Thursday, December 13, 2007

Morally repugnant

After reading the following post and subsequent comments at All Things Conservative the other day, I can only say that it is a good thing and even a testament to my good character that I am no longer welcome in that little community...

Since waterboarding works, any debate over whether to use it is just ridiculous in my mind....

Ahhh, such a very small and closed mind indeed. The evidence they use to demonstrate that “waterboarding works” is an AP article in which a former CIA official confirms that the U.S. has used waterboarding against suspected al-Qaeda operatives:

According to the former agent, waterboarding of terror suspect Abu Zubaydah got him to talk in less than 35 seconds. The technique, which critics say is torture, probably disrupted "dozens" of planned al-Qaida attacks, said John Kiriakou, a leader of the team that captured Abu Zubaydah, a major al-Qaida figure.

But as Dan Froomkin points out, the former agent could not back up any of his claims:

Kiriakou, whose first interview was with Brian Ross of ABC News, also made the unsubstantiated claim that torture worked. Kiriakou told Ross yesterday that, as a result of waterboarding, suspected al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah coughed up information that "disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks."
Ross asked Kiriakou to say a bit more about those thwarted attacks: "Were they on US soil? Were they in Pakistan?"
Kiriakou replied: "You know, I was out of it by then. I had moved onto a new job. And I-- I don't recall. To the best of my recollection, no, they weren't on US soil. They were overseas."

Furthermore, his claims about Zubaydah providing useful information is contrary to what investigative reporter Ron Suskind said in his latest book “The One Percent Doctrine,” an excellent book, by the way.

...investigative reporter Ron Suskind has written that Zubaydah was a mentally ill minor functionary, and that most if not all of the information he provided to the CIA was either old news -- or entirely made up.

Nevertheless, as far as the denizens of ATC are now concerned, torture works and they are absolutely giddy about the prospects of doing more of it. In fact, they think it should be an election year issue for Republicans:

Democrats should be forced to defend their opposition to waterboarding in light of the evidence proving that it works, but the liberal media won't be doing that anytime soon. 
On this plus side, this is a great election issue for Republicans and I can't understand why we haven't seen ads on it yet.

As if the thought of GOP adds touting themselves as the Torture Party wasn’t bizarre enough, we then get the following exchange in the comments:

I don't think the issue is whether it works or not, it's pretty clear that it does. The issue is whether it is legal or not or whether it is torture. It's obvious there is a difference of opinion on that and it hasn't been resolved. If we want to be intellectually honest about it I think our position has to be that it is torture but we get valuable information that might save lives so we should do it anyway.

Posted by: David | December 11, 2007 at 11:33 AM

If you want to be intellectually honest about it, we wouldn't use the word "torture" to describe things that 20 years ago might have been used as fraternity initiation ceremonies. Just because our society has become weak and cowardly over time doesn't mean we need to start changing the meaning of words. Otherwise you'll soon have people screaming "torture" every time an inmate is denied his ice-cream sundae desert.

Posted by: Alex | December 11, 2007 at 11:38 AM

If you want to be intellectually honest about it, we wouldn't use the word "torture" to describe things that 20 years ago might have been used as fraternity initiation ceremonies.

I agree, waterboarding is not torture, it's an interrogation technique.

Posted by: Bill Crawford | December 11, 2007 at 11:55 AM

No, it was not a “fraternity initiation ceremony” 20 years ago. But we did prosecute Japanese soldiers after WWII for waterboarding American POWs at that time. I’ll bet if any of those soldiers were still alive they probably would not say that they had gone through a fraternity initiation.

But the final word at ATC is that, torture or not, it is “an interrogation technique” and one that works. Therefore we should use it without question and without hesitation.
Does torture really work?
Digby has a fine example of a torture session from 1628 that “worked.”
Come to think of it, the denizens of ATC would have fit in quite well with the folks in 1628.

But if the only criteria is whether or not an “interrogation technique” works or not, then why not capture members of an al-Qaeda suspect’s family and torture them as well. I’m sure if a suspect isn’t telling us what we want to hear after being tortured themselves, they might think twice when we start torturing their infant children.
Then the ATC folks would have even more things to cheer about and I’m sure it would make a great GOP campaign ad.

Morally repugnant imbeciles.