Sunday, October 28, 2007

Giuliani is objectively pro-torture

Salon reports that leading Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani says that waterboarding might not be torture, and that liberal newspapers have exaggerated the technique's brutality.

Waterboarding has been used for a long time, e.g. by the Japanese during WWII, but has gained notoriety since it became well known that the CIA uses the technique against prisoners in Iraq.

Wikipedia has a good entry on waterboarding, where it is clear that while well-done waterboarding doesn't leave physical marks, they leave deep psychological marks (badly done waterboarding leaves physical marks as well, such as lung or brain damage).

Giuliani might think that it's debatable if waterboarding is torture or not, but a number of US law professors have signed a letter calling for an end to its use, in which they make clear in clear terms that it's torture (directly stating "Waterboarding is torture."). Fellow Republican candidate John McCain, who has been on the receiving end of torture, wrote the following in Newsweek

For instance, there has been considerable press attention to a tactic called "waterboarding," where a prisoner is restrained and blindfolded while an interrogator pours water on his face and into his mouth--causing the prisoner to believe he is being drowned. He isn't, of course; there is no intention to injure him physically. But if you gave people who have suffered abuse as prisoners a choice between a beating and a mock execution, many, including me, would choose a beating. The effects of most beatings heal. The memory of an execution will haunt someone for a very long time and damage his or her psyche in ways that may never heal. In my view, to make someone believe that you are killing him by drowning is no different than holding a pistol to his head and firing a blank. I believe that it is torture, very exquisite torture.

Today McCain would probably be more indirect in his choice of words, but he clearly feels strongly about this (I recommend reading the entire piece by him, in which he among other things dismisses the 'ticking bomb scenario').

Even the US government considers waterboarding torture, at least when committed by others, e.g. Tunisia ("The forms of torture and other abuse included: electric shock; submersion of the head in water;").

For a presidential candidate to state that not only is he unclear of whether waterboarding is torture, but that the liberal media has exaggerated the brutality of the technique, should be grounds for immediate dismissal by the voters. Unfortunately that's not likely to happen, as Giuliani runs on a "tough on terrorists" platform, and the type of voters this appeals to, don't mind torture of "terrorists", if they get the impression that it keeps them safe, and especially not if they can justify it by claiming that it's probably not as bad as the media makes it sound.

Any attempt to justify torture, or to downplay the severity of torture, can only have one reason - to defend the use of torture, and to make it possible to continue to use torture in the future. This is why I state that Giuliani is objectively pro-torture.

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