Diary

There Never Were Any '180 Waterboardings'

Once again, we see the truth take a back seat to the best spin by Democrats. NRO’s The Corner blog has an exclusive report on the supposed “180 waterboardings” that the US government conducted on terror suspects and it appears that the truth is a bit different than the spin.

You see, it seems that there weren’t “180 waterboardings” but were instead 180 “pours.” In other words, water was poured on the suspects 180 times. Further, the rules were quite specific. No more than two sessions could be conducted on any suspect within a 24 hour period and no more than 6 “pours” of water were allowed per session.

This means that instead of 180 sessions on the waterboard there was a much lower 30.

But, as Cliff May notes on The Corner blog, all the carefully crafted rules for how to conduct waterboard interrogations reveals a far different situation than the Torquemada-like, torture loving Bush administration that critics are trying to advance.

1) Such detailed rules suggest that serious thought was given to where to draw the line between coercion — “stress and duress” — and torture. You can disagree with where those lines were drawn, but I don’t see how you can say no attempt was made to set limits.

Nor do I see how — except in an Orwellian universe — lawyers from the current administration can prosecute lawyers from the previous administration because they disagree with their legal opinions.

Not only lawyers but also physicians and psychologists were involved in these decisions. Indeed, these interrogations were supervised by physicians and psychologists who had the power to stop them. (My column today touches on this question.)

Time and intensity are relevant factors. Who would argue that a single night of sleep deprivation constitutes torture? Who would argue that a month of sleep deprivation is not?

2) Remember that Abu Zubaydah said: “Brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardships.”

Any interrogator worth his salt would understand this means it is his job to bring his subject to the point at which cooperation is no longer betrayal but permitted according to his religious beliefs. Can that be achieved short of torture? Sure. Can it be achieved without coercive interrogation techniques? No, not with subjects who have the beliefs described above.

This picture is changing. Let us all try to quell the wild-eyed speculation and bring clarity to the situation, shall we?