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It is in the prosecution of some single object, and in striving to reach its accomplishment by the combined application of his moral and physical energies, that the true happiness of man, in his full vigour and development, consists. Possession, it is true, crowns exertion with repose; but it is only in the illusions of fancy that it has power to charm our eyes. If we consider the position of man in the universe,—if we remember the constant tendency of his energies towards some definite activity, and recognize the influence of surrounding nature, which is ever provoking him to exertion, we shall be ready to acknowledge that repose and possession do not indeed exist but in imagination. - Wilhelm von Humboldt, The Sphere and Duties of Government (The Limits of State Action) (1854 ed.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Reinhard on Waterboarding & Response

David Reinhard offers yet another humanitarian column:

First, if all waterboarding is torture, why does the U.S. government waterboard its own folks in survival training programs?

. . .

Second, if it's torture, why didn't Congress say so when the issue came up in 2005.

. . .

Does it qualify as torture under some other U.S. law? As former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy points out in a crack National Review Online article, our criminal code defines torture as a government act "specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering," with "severe" meaning "prolonged mental harm." Waterboarding could qualify if done repeatedly. "But," he asks, "what about doing it once, twice, or some number of instances that were not prolonged or extensive?"

. . .

Yes, what about this limited use when the time bomb is ticking and thousands of American lives are at stake? If your answer is "Yes, whatever it takes," you're in line with the public. In a Pew Research Center poll, 12 percent said torture (not waterboarding, general torture) was sometimes justified to gain critical information; 31 percent said it was often justified.

  1. Uh ... maybe they do it in a military program called "Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape", to uh you know, learn how to evade, resist and escape? Stooopid.
  2. Maybe because the Republicans were in the majority in Congress in 2005?
  3. This is just dumb. If you are going to use waterboarding "once, twice, or some number" then it is just sadistic. Making such a policy simply means the 'bad guys' know all they have to do is hold out.
  4. Reinhard's math skill are in line with the rest of his cognitive abilities. "In line with the public" means 12 + 31 = 43% of the public.

How about a video response from someone who ought to know?

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