Monday, November 14, 2011

Waterboarding and torture

Look, when does a physical punishment qualify as torture?  If waterboarding is not torture, then why does it, supposedly, work -- in the sense that it is a physical punishment that gets people to give information (true or otherwise) that they would not ordinarily give?

I know that logic is not a strong suit for Republicans, but isn't that, in fact, a workable definition of torture? Sure, there is the phony assertion that torture only occurs when the pain inflicted is the equivalent of a life-threatening injury. But that is nonsense, or at least not serviceable. Some life-threatening injuries are not, in fact, that painful (e.g. snapping ones neck, or OD-ing on some narcotic). On the other hand, genital electric shocks are well-known tortures, yet are not life-threatening.

If a prisoner will not "talk" until he/she is waterboarded, then waterboarding must be a pretty powerful incentive. Isn't it rather perverse to say that it isn't torture? Especially when all branches of the U.S. military say that it is? Remember: waterboarding was done not by the military -- as some Republicans seem to think -- but by the CIA. After all, the CIA does not exactly occupy the honorable place in our affection and patriotism held by the Army, Navy, Marines or Air Force. John McCain, who knows something about at least this issue, says that waterboarding is torture.

 What is the matter with these would be presidential candidates anyway? Is there any aspect or meaning of "beneath contempt" for which they don't qualify?

(BTW: Several of these candidates seem to think torture is OK anyway. It's an interesting judgment since the Israelis, who know a thing or two about terrorism as well as torture, have determined, after a lot of soul-searching, to reject torture as immoral.)

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