You cannot honestly say you are supporting American soldiers if you support the use of torture techniques like waterboarding. By any objective definition, waterboarding is torture. The technique is a type of simulated drowning of a prisoner who has their limbs bound.
The use of simulated drowning is not new. The Nazis used it in World War II. The Iranian secret police used it under the Shah. It was used in the Vietnam War. Dictators in South America have used this kind of torture. It causes severe psychological damage in most cases and has caused deaths. The Bush Administration claims that it is not torture but the claim is false.
The Bush Republicans defending the use of waterboarding are being dishonest with the American people. Torture usually produces very poor quality information. People will say anything to stop torture. Prisoners will confess to crimes they did not commit. They will implicate innocent people. They will invent fictional plots, fictional conspiracies and fictional dangers. In military and national security terms, torture is not effective. Morally, it is simply wrong.
Torture between international combatants has been outlawed by international law and treaties. Use of torture makes the user a war criminal. The United States has long supported this position to prevent American soldiers from being tortured. American government policies, under Bush, concerning the use of torture put American soldiers at grave risk. We will have great difficulty prosecuting enemies who torture our soldiers if we engage in torture ourselves.
For those Republicans (or Democrats) who defend waterboarding as something less than torture, I have a proposal. Whenever a Bush Administration official is called before the House or Senate to testify, they should be waterboarded the entire time they are testifying. The technique, according to the Bush Republicans, elicits honest answers and does not amount to torture. According to these Bush Republicans, waterboarding does not cause any lasting damage.
Personally, I do not believe the Bush Republicans are correct in their position about waterboarding. However, if the Bush Republicans are sincere in their stated beliefs, we should give them an opportunity to prove it. Cabinets officers, White House staffers, Republican Senators, Bush, Cheney, Rove, Bush appointees like Mukasey and other Bush Administration personnel should all be given personal opportunities to prove that waterboarding is not torture and is effective in providing honest answers to questions.
I think it is a much better idea to waterboard Bush Republican leaders (who support waterboarding) in order to prove that waterboarding is not torture than it is to put our soldiers at risk of being tortured. I think all of them would quickly conclude that waterboarding is torture, illegal, dangerous and ineffective.
In the Dark Ages, they had a version of waterboarding. It was called “dunking.” It was a sadistic kind of torture. Naturally, this type of sadistic, ineffective torture still has a strong appeal to certain types of barbaric Republicans!
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Stephen Crockett is co-host of Democratic Talk Radio and author of the Democratic Voices opinion column.
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