Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

It Doesn't Effing Work!

Another grad student taught me this neat study trick to get A’s on all my exams without having to study.  The upside is that it is easy and perfectly legal.  The downside is that I had to try it 183 times before it worked.  Oh, and now I learn it might not be that legal.  But it’s a great study method, I swear!  You should try it.

I’m not that stupid, but those it appears that politicians and their right-wing cheerleaders who believe that everything they see on 24 is real are that stupid.  According to the New York Times, intelligence officials had to use water boarding more than 200 times to extract information from two detainees.  


Photo of waterboarding device used by the Khmer Rouge at S-21, a facility where political prisoners were tortured and held for execution.

C.I.A. interrogators used waterboarding, the near-drowning technique that top Obama administration officials have described as illegal torture, 266 times on two key prisoners from Al Qaeda, far more than had been previously reported.

The C.I.A. officers used waterboarding at least 83 times in August 2002 against Abu Zubaydah, according to a 2005 Justice Department legal memorandum. Abu Zubaydah has been described as a Qaeda operative.

A former C.I.A. officer, John Kiriakou, told ABC News and other news media organizations in 2007 that Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew.

The 2005 memo also says that the C.I.A. used waterboarding 183 times in March 2003 against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

It doesn’t work and it is cruel.  That is why the American government sentenced a Japanese to 15 years of hard labor for using waterboarding in World War II.

Twenty-one years earlier, in 1947, the United States charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian.  The subject was strapped on a stretcher that was tilted so that his feet were in the air and head near the floor, and small amounts of water were poured over his face, leaving him gasping for air until he agreed to talk.

“Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor,”  Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) told his colleagues last Thursday during the debate on military commissions legislation.  “We punished people with 15 years of hard labor when waterboarding was used against Americans in World War II,” he said.


Or as then-presidential candidate John McCain put it…

“There should be little doubt from American history that we consider that as torture otherwise we wouldn’t have tried and convicted Japanese for doing that same thing to Americans,” McCain said during a news conference.

It’s inhumane.  It’s a war crime.  It doesn’t work.  When will that sink in?


  1. HappyinVT

    release of the memos and Obama’s non-prosecution statement.  Could it be that he, and others, will let politics hold sway?  I’d like to see one person defend the number of times waterboarding was used on these two detainees.  Especially given that the NYT article also cites an interrogator as saying that Zubaydah didn’t have any additional information to give beyond what he provided prior to the waterboarding.  Sounds like the CIA was engaged in some retaliation.

  2. The fact is “Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew.”

    Why did they do it another 182 times then?

    The fact is that terrorist organisations know that most operatives spill the beans under interrogation, and calculate accordingly. Most the crucial intelligence is provided by infiltration and sigint, and you’re much more likely to get infiltrators and double agents if you have the moral high ground.  

  3. Strummerson

    Why does psychodrew love terrorists and hate freedom? (snark, of course, but just to be sure…)

    While I understand the debate about prosecutions, I cannot believe anyone is still debating the use of this technique by our government and military.  Then again, people still use the deterrence argument to support the death penalty, even though that has been discredited.  Of course, the death penalty does have a 0% recidivism rate.  So does life in prison for most crimes.  

    And then there is the issue of equal application.  Would anyone support waterboarding Bernie Madoff to expose everyone who helped him?  What is preventing his family members and associates from swindling countless more charitable foundations and thus endangering the people they help.

    Given that waterboarding has been used at least since the glory days of the Spanish Inquisition, perhaps its proponents would consider bringing back other more entertaining early modern punitive mechanisms such as stocks.  Should we put Sheikh Khalil Muhammed in stocks and pelt him with rotting vegetables?

    The whole thing is so painfully absurd.

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