Overstatement of the Day – Torture Edition
“It appears that waterboarding – a torture technique popularized by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney – has been picked up overseas.” – Andrew Sullivan
Now, look, I’m opposed to torturing suspected terrorists. But the United States Government waterboarded a grand total of three of them during the Bush-Cheney tenure. So let’s not pretend it was somehow a favorite pastime of the administration.
Moreover, as Andrew himself has reminded us on numerous occasions, waterboarding has a long, long history. Not only were much more severe forms used during the Spanish Inquisition and by the Khmer Rouge and the Gestapo, but there’s been a long use by police, military, and intelligence agencies. Including by the United States.
Further, it’s not as if Bush and Cheney hatched up a plan on how to best interrogate prisoners and Cheney turned to his boss and said, “Let me tell you about this thing called waterboarding. . . .” Rather, professional interrogators decided what techniques would work best and were on this side of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2340-2340A as described to them in the so-called Bybee Memo, written by then-Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee to his boss, then-AG Alberto Gonzales in response to a request from the CIA for guidance as to where the lines were.
Beyond that, do we really think Scotland Yard never engaged in dubious interogation techniques before now? Or that they relied on the Bush administration for clues?