Monday, April 28, 2014

Not drowning but waiving

My Heart is a Ticking Time Bomb by txgirlinaz at DeviantArt.
Over at the National Review, Andrew McCarthy chides Sarah Palin for making "jokes" equating waterboarding with baptism as not wrong but impolitic,
since they manage to provoke devout Christians and authentic Muslim moderates as much as they do jihadists
but finds it important to remind everybody that he doesn't believe the waterboarding performed by the CIA amounted to torture, because if you're being responsible you'll stick to legal definitions, as in the US Criminal Code, according to which torture only takes place in the event of "severe mental pain or suffering", that is,
the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering...
Whereas according to McCarthy, who appears to think he knows more about the subject than Senator McCain,
Waterboarding the way the CIA executed was highly uncomfortable, but it did not cause severe pain, it was of short duration, and it did not cause fear of imminent death (the detainees were told that they were not going to be killed).
The weaseling in that little sentence is just amazing, as he substitutes "severe pain" for "severe physical pain or suffering", talks about prolonged waterboarding instead of "prolonged mental harm" (which clearly doesn't end the second they let you breathe again), and assumes that somehow telling your victims you don't plan to kill them will keep them from believing they're drowning when they feel themselves drowning. (Unlike the SERE trainees, who absolutely knew in advance they wouldn't be killed and still found it totally terrifying.) What an asshole.

There's a lot more casuistry including bringing in Nancy Pelosi (in a quote from that nonpartisan expert Karl Rove), and a complaint that
People who want a categorical ban on such tactics constantly avoid addressing the ticking-bomb scenario and similar questions that bring the logic of their position into stark relief
which is really not true; it is well understood by all torture abolitionists that the ticking-bomb thought experiment deals with an entirely fictional issue that nobody has ever dealt with or is ever likely to deal with in the real world (or as McCain says, in the utterly unlikely event that it happened, the jury would undoubtedly let you get away with it, so it's still best to keep it illegal). We don't avoid it, we dismiss it. Peremptorily.

Then he winds up announcing his victory—
there is a very strong factual and legal argument that what our government did was not torture.
but I really haven't seen it. I'm left wondering why the dog is returning to his vomit in this peculiar way; is it somehow meant in defense of Palin's misunderstood "joking"? Or does it just give him a rare hard-on?
Via Giphy.

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