Rudy on torture.
At an Iowa town-hall meeting, Linda Gustitus, president of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, put a couple of questions to America’s mayor. Noting that Attorney General-nominee Michael Mukasey had “fudged” when asked whether waterboarding is torture, Gustitus said:
“I wanted to ask you two questions,’’ she said. “One, do you think
waterboarding is torture? And two, do you think the president can order
something like waterboarding even though it’s against U.S. and
Mr. Giuliani responded: “Okay. First of all, I don’t believe the
attorney general designate in any way was unclear on torture. I think
Democrats said that; I don’t think he was.’’
Ms. Gustitus said: “He said he didn’t know if waterboarding is torture.”
Mr. Giuliani said: “Well, I’m not sure it is either. I’m not sure it
is either. It depends on how it’s done. It depends on the
circumstances. It depends on who does it. I think the way it’s been
defined in the media, it shouldn’t be done. The way in which they have
described it, particularly in the liberal media. So I would say, if
that’s the description of it, then I can agree, that it shouldn’t be
done. But I have to see what the real description of it is. Because
I’ve learned something being in public life as long as I have. And I
hate to shock anybody with this, but the newspapers don’t always
describe it accurately.”
“If I can’t figure out that there’s been a significant media bias
against this war, then I shouldn’t be running for president of the
This is a dodge. There are two definitions of waterboarding, a very old form of torture–neither one was made up by “the media.” And neither is secret. One: a prisoner is bound to a board and repeatedly lowered into water to the point of drowning. Two: a prisoner is bound to a board, which is tilted so that his head is below his feet; then fabric is pulled across his mouth and water is poured on his face to the point of drowning. (The latter is more common.)
In his repetition of the meaningless mantra “we do not torture,” Rudy sounds like President Bush. But can anyone extract a useful definition of the term from Rudy’s ramble? He wants to sound common-sensical by pointing out the “delicate line” between “aggressive questioning” and torture–but nothing he says does anything to clarify where the line is. He was provided with one of the most obvious examples of torture by Gustitus, and he danced around it. “It depends.” No it doesn’t. I’m afraid so-called liberal media bias doesn’t cover this one, Rudy, no matter how much applause it garners. Waterboarding is as old as the Inquisition. The United States has prosecuted those who have used it. The longer we pretend not to know torture when we see it, the farther down this dangerous rabbit hole we go.
Update: for those whose stomach isn’t strong enough to read to the end of his circular monologue, have a look at Rudy’s concluding remarks–equal parts hilarious and frightening.
“I have known every American president since Gerald Ford. I knew
Richard Nixon, but before he was president. I met him, I didn’t know
him. I can’t say I knew Richard Nixon. But I’ve known every American
president since Gerald Ford. Some Republicans, some Democrats. I can’t
think of a one that would ever want to see somebody tortured. Also
can’t think of a one that wouldn’t have the courage to make some tough
decisions to protect the lives of the American people. And that’s the
kind of person you have to have as president of the United States.”
I knew Richard Nixon, too. Well, I met him once in the mid-1990s. I got off on the wrong floor in the Capitol Building, and there he was with Bob Dole. We shook hands. Wouldn’t call us close. Actually, we barely touched. I wouldn’t even call it a shake. More of a brush. And I don’t think he would remember me. If he were alive. Anyway, it was well after he had those offices broken into. You know what, forget I even mentioned it. Keep America safe.