Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tongue torture

The director of national intelligence says in a magazine article published today that waterboarding, the interrogation technique that simulates drowning, would be torture if used against him. But Mike McConnell also refuses to condemn the practice, reportedly used against two suspected al-Qaida operatives in the destroyed CIA videotapes, and says the United States does not participate in torture. What? It is generally conceded that the videotapes showed the use of waterboarding on the two suspects, and the head of U.S. intelligence says waterboarding is torture. What is the problem here? The fact that President Bush also denies that the U.S. uses torture, even as he threatens to veto a bill in Congress that would bar the CIA from using waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques not authorized by the military, does not change the truth of the situation. If the president believes the threat of terrorism outweighs the country's founding principles, he ought to make that case to the American people and stop his advisers from bludgeoning the language. CIA spokesman Mike Mansfield also weighs in today on the noncontroversy, saying "the information developed through the detention and interrogation program has been irreplaceable, and the program has operated in strict accord with American law." Of course, that doesn't mean anything, either. To paraphrase a great philosopher of the big screen, stupid is as stupid says.

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