Thursday, November 8, 2007

Note To "Greenhouse" Radio Knuckleheads: Waterboarding Is Torture

The wacky boys over at AM-620 WTMJ's afternoon "Green House" radio show were yukking it up earlier this week about waterboarding.

Here's some of their "waterboarding party" hilarity, pod-casted at the program's website (if a screen prompts asks you, click on the Active-X control button).

Here's the testimony of a former US Navy instructor describing in an AP story why waterboarding, an interrogation technique that simulates drowning, is torture.

"[Instructor Malcolm] Nance described the experience as a "slow motion suffocation" that provides enough time for the subject to consider what's happening:

"Water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel(ing) your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs."

"The victim is drowning," Nance said in materials submitted with his testimony."

Yeah, that's pretty funny stuff - - but in reality, it's another nail in the coffin for the credibility of a once-great radio station whose management has decided that anything inane and preferably rightist - - up to and including the late-night homophobe Michael Savage - - should be beamed our way at 50,000-watt strength.

Mighty WTMJ likes to call itself "the biggest stick in the state," but all I can hear when I listen is "the biggest stiff in the state."


Anonymous said...

The moral position you take here is convenient and blind to history. If a pedophile took my daughter and hid her somewhere I'd pray that government did anything--things well beyond waterboarding--to make him tell where she was. You would too, so quit being a phony hypocrite. If the government had a terrorist they suspected had vital information about a pending attack and didn't waterboard the person even as a last resort, you'd be among the first to demand to know why they didn't do more after the bomb went off. Knucklehead....

James Rowen said...

You can construct any 'what-if' scenario to fit the end you want, but you and I know that so-called suspects so very often turn out to be innocents, wrongly picked up, turned in by personal enemies, and so forth.

If you read a little more about this, you will see that people being tortured will and do say anything - - leading to a lot more bad information getting into circulation.

That iw why many military experts believe it is a bad practice, in part because it produces bad information - - let along that it is outlawed to also protrect our captured soldiers or civilians from being the victims of torture tit-for-tat.

Torture also harms the torturer, and the society that tolerates or encourages it.

I think we're already down the slippery slope if the Green House gang can take it all so lightly.

I wasn't entertained.

Anonymous said...

you're right about it being in bad taste to make light of it--I wholly agree. I'm also aware of the other objections you mention, but it does not always lead to bad information. But to take it totally off the table is completely wrong. And only fools resort to the "lowering yourself argument". We are at war with an enemy that tortures and beheads as a normal activity. Our civilians are regularly subject to torture. Was Daniel Pearle given a copy of the Old Testament and three warm meals? The social contract you speak of applies only to civilized nations and must be two-way.

Now I'm not advocating we start waterboarding the scum at gitmo--though I wouldn't lose sleep--what I'm saying is that the necessity of 'clear and present danger' might make the use of this type of strategy morally acceptable. (like firebombing of german cities or hiroshima to hasten the end of war)War is always about lowering yourself to the other guy's level--ask those military guys you mention.

Look, the next president is likely to be a democrat who will put his or her own people into place. You'll be more comfortable with their moral compass, I'm sure. But what I worry about is that we will have stripped them of the power to defend us. Can't waterboard, can't evesdrop, can't get phone records, can't track bank transactions. Like it or not, these are extraordinary times. I hope the next democrat president sees the safety of americans as the highest moral imperative. And while I'm no fan of tampering with constitutional freedoms, I'm sure we both note that the constitution is not a suicide pact and has proven itself resiliant before. Think of Lincoln and the civil war period.

Anonymous said...

Ah, nothing like a good brace of nitschean ethics to start the day.

I just can't wait for the defense of anal rape and genocide.

Anonymous said...

It is certainly wonderful that we as a country, have nothing else to worry our pretty little heads about. Gas and energy costs are cheap, everyone has a job, nobody gets shot in Milwaukee, or any other metro area, crops are at record levels, nuclear power plants are cranking out more electricity that we can consume, yet this is what we find ourselves worried about? Whether waterboarding is torture? Get your damn priorities straight!!!!!!! If there is a threat to the United States or its people, take whatever action is needed, as often as needed to as many enemy as needed to extract the information needed, by ANY MEANS necessary. Do you think for a second if the shoe was on the other foot, they would give a snot's crap about our people? All enemies of the United States need to have it explained to them, by ANY means applicable. Let's stop worrying about prisoners and worry about what's really important.

James Rowen said...

Read the post more carefully, Anon: It takes issue with WTMJ for making light of the matter, which the commentator Patrick noticed even though he has the strong feelings you do.

And this isn't just about what we do to prisoners. It is about what it does to the rest of us.