McCain on Rudy on torture. (updated)
“All I can say is that it was used in the Spanish Inquisition, it was used in Pol Pot’s
genocide in Cambodia, and there are reports that it is being used
against Buddhist monks today,” Mr. McCain, who spent more than five
years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, said in a telephone interview.
Of presidential candidates like Mr. Giuliani, who say that they are
unsure whether waterboarding is torture, Mr. McCain said: “They should
know what it is. It is not a complicated procedure. It is torture.”
Rudy’s senior military adviser, retired Adm. Robert J. Natter, offered this response:
“The highly politicized nature of political campaigns makes that forum
a poor arena in which to debate the distinctions between torture and
different forms of interrogation,” Admiral Natter said. “Is
waterboarding torture? I don’t know. I was waterboarded as part of my
military training, and I would say that it falls into a gray area.”
Yes, especially when you know that the person waterboarding you has no intention of killing you.
And what about Rudy’s blithe dismissal of sleep deprivation as a form of torture? “They talk about sleep deprivation. I mean, on that theory,
I’m getting tortured running for president of the United States. That’s
plain silly. That’s silly.” It seems he doesn’t know much about that either.
Update: Andrew Sullivan links to a post on waterboarding by Malcolm Nance, a former master instructor and chief of training at the U.S. Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego, California. The post is titled “Waterboarding Is Torture.”
I know the waterboard personally and intimately. SERE staff
were required undergo the waterboard at its fullest. I was no
exception. I have personally led, witnessed and supervised
waterboarding of hundreds of people. It has been reported that both the Army and Navy SERE school’s interrogation manuals were used to form the interrogation techniques used by the US army and the CIA for its terror suspects. What was not mentioned in most articles was that SERE was
designed to show how an evil totalitarian, enemy would use torture at
the slightest whim. If this is the case, then waterboarding is
unquestionably being used as torture technique.
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.
Update 2: In case you don’t want to read Nance’s entire post, have a look at the section on waterboarding here:
Waterboarding is not a simulation. Unless you have
been strapped down to the board, have endured the agonizing feeling of
the water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel your throat open
and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs,
you will not know the meaning of the word.
Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that, in the American model,
occurs under the watch of a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and
a trained strap-in/strap-out team. It does not simulate drowning, as
the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate
that. The victim is drowning. How much the victim is to drown depends
on the desired result (in the form of answers to questions shouted into
the victim’s face) and the obstinacy of the subject. A team doctor
watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the
physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from
painful psychological experience, to horrific suffocating punishment to
the final death spiral.
Waterboarding is slow motion suffocation with enough time to
contemplate the inevitability of black out and expiration –usually the
person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is
horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to
terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death. Its lack of
physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threaten with its
use again and again.
Read the rest of the post right here.