Defining “torture”


I’ve known about Christopher Hitchens’ Vanity Fair article where he changed his tune regarding whether or not waterboarding constitutes torture; but I hadn’t realized there’s also a video that shows the session he had.

He lasts for only about 5 or 6 applications.

I wouldn’t be so quick to pass judgment on Hitchens as a wimp, either; not unless you’ve personally experienced the same, yourself (I know some of our readers have).

Regardless of whether it’s applied to our own soldiers in SERE training to develop coping mechanisms to resist, or whether it’s being inflicted on enemy combatants to go beyond their breaking points….can we or should we concede that waterboarding does in fact fit into the categorical definition of “torture”?

After all, I could potentially classify such things as tickling and most hip hop music as torture, so why not waterboarding?

Conceding the language and calling the “harsh interrogation methods” as “torture” without a distinction is politically damaging to those of us who have defended the Bush Administration and CIA decision to engage in “enhanced interrogation” to keep us safe.

How should we define “torture”? And how effective were the “harsh interrogation” methods in extrapolating actionable intelligence?

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Obama, said last night Winston Churchill wouldnt use torture in WW2…..Excuse me he broke the german code years before didnt need to torture to get his information…..Are the english people not using torture on the irish for the last hundred years…or did he forget all of that…How convient to miss that fact…Lets just make stuff up and call it history…..Duke

Well looks like the Commies reckon the English torture…

Although in the same article…in regards to the actions against those interned in Northern Ireland in the 70s….

In 1978 the European Court of Human Rights said that the techniques Britain had used caused “intense physical and mental suffering and … acute psychiatric disturbance”, but that while this was “inhuman and degrading treatment” it didn’t amount to torture.

Retired. I used to be in toxiclology research pharmaceutical R&D and quality control. And you?

Knowing what’s in you library really helps us understand how you “think,” so thanks for that “enlightening” bit of propaganda.

When the President is done with America
1) We will be flat broke.
2) We will be taxed to death
3) We will be defenseless
4) We will be at war with ourselves
5) Our National Health will be diminished
I will still love this country


41 @B Ciz
I wasn’t clear in your answer as to whether you waterboard the uniformed soldier. As for torture vs waterbaord – I wonder if waterboard is so effective then why was it used over 80 times on the same suspect? And say if waterboard wasn’t effective and traditional torture (and I’m sure their are plenty of ways to injure someone without taking out fingers or killing them) was more effective – would you allow it on both suspects?

We are trained to EXPECT to be water boarded, at the very least. As we do not participate in unlawful combat activities, we would expect to be protected under the GC. So by that simple observation, water boarding is not “torture”, unless you are willing to accept that we are to expect that we will be tortured. Then there goes your argument that we shouldn’t do anything bad, so the enemy wont do anything bad back.
Your comment about the same subject being water boarded 80 times is naive and ill-informed. The number that was quoted is of individual streams of water. That could all be in one session or 80 sessions. Of course now we know that isn’t the case. The number of pours, the duration of pours, and the amount poured were all very strictly limited. They were even guaranteed a specific rest period of several hours.
But there is a obvious flaw in your attempt to infer outrage over the idea of 80 water boarding sessions. If water boarding were as horrible and torturous as you imply, then no one would endure 80 sessions. And if they could, they certainly would not surrender useful intelligence under anything less.
As to your question, your dilemma is interesting. But it actually only pretends to be an intelligent question. You comply ignore the greater moral dilemma. Do you allow many thousand innocent people die, so that you can claim to be morally superior. Is that morally superior? My answer remains. For the POW you will be legally culpable if you take action to force the information from the POW. You are not legally liable (according to the GC) for forcing the information from the terrorist. But you will be morally culpable for the deaths of those innocent people if you do nothing.

@B Ciz:

it actually only pretends to be an intelligent question.

As all his “questions” are, posing, and rather badly, at being intelligent. He’s a waste of time, except to show that fact, as you have quite effectively done.