What The Torture Memos Tell Us About Us

Ken AshfordWar on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

So now we know that waterboarding was used 266 times on two terrorist suspects.  183 of those times were on Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of 9/11, in one month.

The Bush administration euphemistically used waterboarding as an "enhanced interrogation technique", but when you hear that it was used 183 times in one month, a couple of common sense things jump out.

The main thing is this: as "interrogation techniques" go, this one obviously wasn't working.  If I were present at, oh, the 35th waterboarding, I might raise my hand and say: "Okay.  Either he has given us every piece of information we want, or this near-drowning thing isn't working".

I have absolutely no way of knowing, but I suspect that what was going on had less to do with information-gathering (clearly it was ineffective if you had to do it 183 times), and more do to with — let's be honest — punishment.  Or, to be blunt, outright sadism.  Sadism in the name of our government.

I don't care that the subject was KSM.  It's not about him.  It's about us.  We live in a country which has sunk to KSM's level.

Charles Lemos over at MyDD notes his close friendship with WSJ reporter Danny Pearl, who was brutally murdered by al Qaeda, and responds to the torture memos:

Those of us who knew Danny are very protective of Danny and his legacy because Danny Pearl was an exceptional human being. It is hard to talk about Danny and not wax eloquent. It is beyond belief to us that when Al Qaeda killed Danny, they killed someone who actually was interested in having their grievances heard. Not that Danny or I sympathized with Islamic terrorism, but there are many who think it important to understand its causes so that we might be able to better mitigate its spread.

In thinking about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the fact that he was waterboarded 183 times in the month of March of 2003, I cannot but express how this denigrates everything that Danny stood for. In waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, we have descended to the level of that butcher. We have proved that we are no better than them and I refuse to believe that. The West has a moral obligation to live up to the ideals that Danny Pearl embodied.