Monday, September 17, 2007
It is commonly said, at least by many left wing critics and others, that waterboarding is torture, both as a legal and moral matter. Lets assume that is correct.
Now, it is my understanding that many people in the military, including Navy Seals, are waterboarded as part of their training. If that is true, are we torturing our military personnel?
This is a significant question. Take paradigmatic forms of torture, such as breaking bones or even severe psychological torture. I take it people would object to doing that to our troops. Then why don't they object to waterboarding?
There are a couple of possibilities. First, waterboarding is not really torture. It is tough, very unpleasant, but not torture. Second, it may be OK to torture our troops, it just depends on the type of torture. And, third, waterboarding is only torture when done by an enemy, but not when the victim knows that he will not be harmed.
Well, I suppose they are all possible, but I do think that the most likely possibility by far is that waterboarding is not really torture. The second and third possibilities seem quite weak to me.
I would fully admit that my facts may be wrong here. Perhaps Navy Seals are not waterboarded or not waterboarded in the same way that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was. Or some other discrepancies may be important. But unless that is the case, I do find the argument about waterboarding being torture -- rather than a harsh method which is effective -- quite puzzling.