Joe Lieberman told Greta Van Susteren yesterday on Fox that he thinks releasing the torture memos was a "bad idea" because it lets our enemies see too
April 21, 2009

Joe Lieberman told Greta Van Susteren yesterday on Fox that he thinks releasing the torture memos was a "bad idea" because it lets our enemies see too much.

Moreover, he's been busy watching "24", and he thinks waterboarding is just fine as an "enhanced interrogation technique":

Van Susteren: First of all, is waterboarding torture?

Lieberman: Well, I take a minority position on this. Most people think it's definitely torture. The truth is, it has mostly a psychological impact on people. It's a terrible thing to do. I've said in the past, and I'll say it again to you -- that I want the President of the United States, in a given circumstance where we believe somebody we've got in our control may have information that will help us stop an attack, an imminent attack on the United States like 9/11 or, God forbid, worse, we ought to be able to use something like waterboarding. But generally speaking it ought not to be on the table.

Incidentally, I believe General Hayden when he says that not just waterboarding, which he stopped, as I understand it, but a number of the other items on that list that has been published, really did work -- did help to give us a lot of the information that we have about Al Qaeda.

Regarding whether waterboarding is simply a "psychological effect", the reality is that while waterboarding can be performed in ways that do not cause lasting physical damage, it often is not. And when it is not, not only causes extreme pain, damage to the lungs, brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation, and injuries (including broken bones) due to struggling against restraints, it can also cause death.

Recall the actual facts of what happens during waterboarding, as Human Rights Watch has explained:

Waterboarding is torture. It causes severe physical suffering in the form of reflexive choking, gagging, and the feeling of suffocation. It may cause severe pain in some cases. If uninterrupted, waterboarding will cause death by suffocation. It is also foreseeable that waterboarding, by producing an experience of drowning, will cause severe mental pain and suffering. The technique is a form of mock execution by suffocation with water. The process incapacitates the victim from drawing breath, and causes panic, distress, and terror of imminent death. Many victims of waterboarding suffer prolonged mental harm for years and even decades afterward.

As for the efficacy of the torture -- a proposition that is dubious at best -- the question always is: At what cost? Is it worth it to get that data at the price of becoming the world's greatest monster?

As the late Joan Fitzpatrick put it:

The prohibition on torture is a peremptory norm of customary international law binding on all nations. The torturer is the enemy of all mankind.

And it will always be so. No matter how much fearful little worms like Joe Lieberman want you to forget it.

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