Before 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, his only answer to interrogators inquiring about future attacks on the United States was, "Soon, you will know." Indeed, soon they did know because they waterboarded him and extracted information leading to the capture of key al-Qaida operatives and the closing down of an East Asian terrorist cell that was planning to attack Los Angeles -- the "second wave" plot.
So much for the ineffectiveness of coercive interrogation. I'd like to hear someone propose an alternative to these methods and it had better be soon since Obama has outlawed what we know works. The people who devised these techniques, the officials who advised their utilization and the agents who applied them should be honored and rewarded. Their actions saved thousands of innocent lives. Instead they're threatened with prosecution.
And despite what Peggy Noonan and others claim, the application of harsh methods to protect us do not "coarsen" us. We weren't permanently coarsened by actions we took to win World War 2. Actions that can certainly be called barbaric when viewed from outside the context of the conflict, e.g. dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima or firebombing Hamburg and Tokyo. With determined enemies poised to inflict death and destruction on us, stopping them with the very limited use of waterboarding is hardly an extreme or cruel measure.
Another thing Noonan does is invoke John McCain to buttress her argument. If McCain says waterboarding is torture, she says, then it must be so. McCain suffered true torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese and for no other purpose than infliction of pain. The purpose of waterboarding is to obtain lifesaving intelligence. And it does. It's unfortunate that McCain doesn't make this distinction.
In the end though, it doesn't matter what you call it. Say it's torture if you like. If it saves lives, do it.
Here's a concurring opinion.
Look, if the president needed an option, there’s all sorts of things they can do. Let’s take the best case, OK. You picked up someone you know is the No. 2 aide to Osama bin Laden. And you know they have an operation planned for the United States or some European capital in the next three days. And you know this guy knows it. Right, that’s the clearest example. And you think you can only get it out of this guy by shooting him full of some drugs or water-boarding him or otherwise working him over.
"Every one of us can imagine the following scenario: We get lucky; we get the No. 3 guy in al-Qaida, and we know there's a big bomb going off in America in three days and this guy knows where it is. We have the right and the responsibility to beat it out of him."
Both by Bill Clinton
Finally, the following illustrates how the MSM tries to portray the interrogations in the worst possible light. By Cliff May in NRO.
How many times have you read and heard in the mainstream media that terrorists were waterboarded more than 180 times?
It turns out that’s not true. What is?
According to two sources, both of them very well-informed and reliable (but preferring to remain anonymous), the 180-plus times refers not to sessions of waterboarding, but to “pours” — that is, to instances of water being poured on the subject.
Under a strict set of rules, every pour of water had to be counted — and the number of pours was limited.