Monday, April 28, 2008

Commentary: Interrogation or torture?

Go to Atlanta Journal-Constitution
On March 8, President Bush vetoed legislation that would have barred the CIA from using so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" to extract information from terrorist suspects. This unleashed a new storm of criticism from those who equate techniques such as waterboarding with torture.

It also put the president at odds with prospective Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, who has rejected the use of such techniques, saying that if the U.S. resorts to what he describes as "torture," it will put our troops and other American citizens abroad at risk.

But is this true? Moreover, is waterboarding really torture, and should the U.S. renounce any tool that could potentially save American lives, especially in extraordinary situations where dozens, hundreds, even thousands face imminent death from a weapon of mass destruction?

To begin with, the United States rightly rejects the use of torture, defined as the infliction of intense pain from burning, whipping, crushing, the administration of electric shocks and similar abuses. By contrast, the six enhanced interrogation techniques instituted by the CIA in March 2002 are the following: the attention grab, the attention slap, the belly slap, longtime standing, the cold cell and the controversial practice of waterboarding.


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