Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Brighter Side Of Waterboarding

The original headline said, "Senate votes to ban waterboarding," but is a Congressional bill ever that simple?
The prohibition was contained in a bill authorizing intelligence activities for the current year, which the Senate approved on a 51-45 vote. It would restrict the CIA to the 19 interrogation techniques outlined in the Army field manual. That manual prohibits waterboarding, a method that makes an interrogation subject feel he is drowning.
So the clause was nestled into a much larger bill. Bush may veto it, given that he has sworn not to constrain intelligence from the full array of techniques. Twenty or so years ago, waterboarding didn't exist (to my knowledge) as a term of art. It was accurately enough called "water torture" since you actually drown or suffocate to death when it's done to you.

Torture has been used by everybody, including the United States, even when it was officially banned. It's not something that needs any encouragement, and people who decide to employ it should at least be desperate enough to put themselves on the wrong side of the law. It'll be really cool for a lot of people when this finally does get banned again, and it'll benefit all of us regular Amis, especially those of us who travel overseas.

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