We, as a nation, are having a crisis of honor.
Last week the Attorney General nominee Judge Michael Mukasey refused to define waterboarding terror suspects as torture. On the same day MSNBC television pundit and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough quickly spoke out in its favor. On his morning television broadcast, he asserted, without any basis in fact, that the efficacy of the waterboard a viable tool to be used on Al Qaeda suspects.
Congress had two recent opportunities to specify that waterboarding was illegal and declined to do so both times. But I just learned something I hadn’t known: this was not just a mere omission. It was a positive, conscious decision not to do what Senate Democrats are demanding that Mukasey do: declare waterboarding a war crime.
“[I]f it isn’t torture, it can’t be that bad, right?” our hero wonders rhetorically before declaring it most definitely bad — and recounting how he went in for one, two, three, four rounds of the stuff. Which, incidentally, was fewer than his brother managed. A possible alternative standard: If it is torture, you probably wouldn’t be so willing to have it done to you.
Four times. And his brother went five times! I wonder how many times they went in for the power drill into the shoulder or through the skull?
My brother and I just waterboarded each other… yup, it’s torture..
The carnival-like he-said, she-said of the legality of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques has become a form of doublespeak worthy of Catch-22. Having been subjected to them all, I know these techniques, if in fact they are actually being used, are not dangerous when applied in training for short periods. However, when performed with even moderate intensity over an extended time on an unsuspecting prisoner – it is torture, without doubt. Couple that with waterboarding and the entire medley not only “shock the conscience” as the statute forbids -it would terrify you. Most people can not stand to watch a high intensity kinetic interrogation. One has to overcome basic human decency to endure watching or causing the effects. The brutality would force you into a personal moral dilemma between humanity and hatred. It would leave you to question the meaning of what it is to be an American.
In recent media accounts, it is suggested, as one would hope, that waterboarding has scarcely been used (on perhaps three detainees since 9/11) and hasn’t been used in a long time (perhaps not in four years). I hope that’s true — the tactic should be considered illegal and shocking to the conscience (a violation of the McCain amendment) in almost all circumstances. But the Democrats want to go further. They want the law to be that we must never, ever resort to waterboarding, no matter how imminent and grave the threat of mass-slaughter. That is a worthy debate to have. And if they win it, we will all honor the result whether we like it or not. But they have to win it first — by convincing the country and passing legislation. They shouldn’t get to pretend they already won by trying to coerce a nominee into helping them rewrite history … and law.
I was wiped out after four tries. My best time was 20 seconds, and I literally gritted it out. It took about all I had, so much so that right afterward on my last try I barely lasted 9 seconds.
My brother tried it a few more times than I did. He beat me on average times, but his highest was 18 seconds.