PowerlineBlog.com’s Pro-Torture Position

It turns out that not everyone shares my anti-torture by the US government stance. One example of this is the local political blog focusing on national issues: PowerlineBlog.com. They not only don’t says that torture is wrong, but they’ve actively defend torturing people in multiple blog posts:

PowerlineBlog.com Defending Waterboarding Torture

Powerline has more than one writer, so it would be unfair to say that ALL writers at Powerline Blog are pro-torture. To be fair, let’s break it out:

John Hinderaker, June 26, 2008:

The Democrats sought to advance the view that waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was a crime on a par with the Holocaust, whereas I, for one, think that waterboarding is exactly the right technique for interrogating terrorists: it takes only two or three minutes, is almost always effective, and does no harm to the terrorist.

Paul Mirengoff, September 29 ,2006, In Defense of Waterboarding:

David Adesnik says he became very, very angry when I referred to Senators McCain, Graham, etc as “the terrorist rights wing of the Republican party.” I’m sure it makes me at least as angry that McCain and Graham have placed sparing Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and Zacarias Moussaoui from two minutes of anguish ahead of saving the lives of thousands of innocent people. Perhaps I should start calling McCain and Graham the leaders of the “security endangerment wing” of their party.

Scott Johnson, May 15, 2009, on the lack of a specific mention of waterboarding being illegal justifying waterboarding:

McCarthy pauses here to note that the Spanish Inquisition lacked a torture statute, as did the United States until 1994, and that to this day federal torture law leaves waterboarding unmentioned.

Hmmm, maybe it is fair to say that all writers at PowerlineBlog.com are, indeed, pro-torture? It sure looks that way based on what they’ve written over the past few years.

Here’s another Paul Mirengoff pro-torture quote that’s too pathetic to not reblog:

McCain, by contrast, has allied himself with the Dems on nearly a full spectrum of issues — everything from tax cuts, to free speech, to immigration, to energy and environmental policy, to judicial nominations (in that case the outreach was limited to moderate Dems). Even when it comes to the war on terror, McCain made common cause with the liberals in opposing effective terrorist interrogation techniques, notably waterboarding.

Mirengoff comes across as a sadistic single-issue voter based on whether or not a candidate has a pro-torture platform. John McCain, a man who has been tortured, is clearly soft on torture by Paul Mirengoff’s standards.

I do have to give PowerlineBlog.com credit for one thing though: They are consistent. Consistently wrong. But still, consistent.

22 thoughts on “PowerlineBlog.com’s Pro-Torture Position”

  1. Oh, my. When I read this in google reader the google ad was one encouraging me to tell Senator Bennett to oppose Obama’s latest big labor scheme.

  2. @Ren, that’s funky. I wonder what keywords within that post would have triggered Bennett’s ads? Or, why he’d choose to serve them to people outside of his home state? There are politicians buying ads directly on The Deets, but I don’t think Bennett is one of them. Also, I’m not sure why Bennett is opposed to working people.

  3. You should leave a comment on Powerlineblog’s site about this. OH WAIT, you can’t leave comments on their posts. Fascinating.

  4. Actually, your “anti-torture by the US Government” stance doesnt seem to outline why you oppose waterboarding. Only that you associate waterboarding as torture. OK, so what?

    In the absense of your explaination, I will just assume that you are a liberal and as such subscirbe to the sophistry that proposes that torturing mass murdering manatics to obtain information relating to uncovering plots involving the mass-murder of hundreds, if not thousands of innocent people is a bad thing making us just as bad as the mass murdeing religious fanatics. In my mind, its people like you who are the moral despots.

    I’ll side with Powerline any day.

  5. @Harry, it’s tough to argue with someone who’ll “side with Powerline’s any day”, since it shows a preference for ideology over mature reasoning.

    Torturing humans is wrong, and waterboarding is a form of torture. I don’t thin that make me a liberal. By your definition, 70%+ of the country is liberal due to their “waterboarding is torture” perspectives. I think my opinion on this issue just makes me a bit more humane than the guys at Powerline on this issue.

    It may be worth considering the longer-term consequences of torturing people. For example, how many people fighting against the USA in organized or terrorist-like fashion are partly motivate, today, by their knowledge of how Donald Rumsfeld treated detainees? How many people are willing to fight to the death today rather than surrender because the USA treated prisoners the way Paul Mirengoff thought detainees should be treated? How difficult will it eventually be for the USA to reach a peace settlement with people it has tortured?

  6. Ed, how many people have been waterboarded by the Bush administrations own admission? Three right. How many people have the religious fanatics beheaded before a video camera? Five that I can recall. Who should be more outraged? We should and we show far more restraint than those people are ever likely to. How many fundamental murdering religious fanatics were waterboarded prior to 9/11? None. Your argument that torturing religious fanatics makes it harder to fight terrorism or helps promote it is deeply flawed and bereft of critical thought. Terrorist do not murder hundreds of innocent people because they dont like Rumsfeld’s interrogation policies. Terrorists torture people for much, much less. We dont have to reach a peace “settlement” with religious fanatics (another deeply naive idea). We need to do what it takes to secure the lives of ordinary people.

    Looking at some of the links you provide on your page, Ive notice some fool conducted his own experiment to determine whether or not waterboarding was unpleasant. No surprise to the fool, he found that it was. Only a liberal would need to conduct an experiment that the rest of us could have determined without an experiment. But if you like experiments schedule yourself to be waterboarded tomorrow then the next day have someone fly you into a building. Without your actually having to do either, tell me witch one would you rather have done to you.

    Honestly, when do you people wake up? This is not meant as an insult, its an honest question.

  7. @Harry

    My grandfather was a Missionary detained by the Chinese in World War 2. He and two of his peers were seperated from his family and “waterboarded” with the intent that they confess that they were American spies (which they were not). Based on his first-hand account (and the fact that one of his peers died during the process), I would submit that he was in a position to judge whether or not this was torture.

    I don’t think my grandfather would have split the hairs you are attempting to split and until you have taken your turn on the waterboard, i suggest you keep your “holier than though” tone in check.

  8. @Harry, I hope it doesn’t make me sound too crazy to say that relying on the Bush administration to tell us how many people they tortured may not be the best source of information. This is the same group that destroyed interrogation tapes from when waterboarding was used. Additionally, that doesn’t include cases of extraordinary rendition (aka outsourcing of torture to other countries).

    I find it humorous that you compared US torture tactics to that of religious fanatic terrorists as a justification, then backpedal in the very next sentence by saying that we need to show far more restraint. Well, I suppose there is a torture spectrum, so you appear to be more comfortable with certain forms of torture than others, while I’m not comfortable with any forms of torture because . . . they’re torture.

    Your argument that, because waterboarding wasn’t the justification for the 9/11 attacks is extraordinarily poor. I suppose you COULD attempt to twist what I said to make it seem that I was suggesting that the only reason someone would want to attack Americans is due to Rumsfeld’s interrogation techniques. Clearly, that’s not the case.

    Am I to understand that the US torture policy under Bush had NO negative impact on the motivations of religious fanatics? Are you really saying that people like Osama bin Laden wouldn’t use something like “oh, by the way, if they catch you they’ll torture you, like they did to _______ so fight to the death” to motivate people? That seems like a pretty strong pitch to me. And it only exists because the people you seem to support chose to act like the terrorists.

    It sounds like we share the same goals. Peace and security. I don’t see torture as a path to peace.

    Your “wake up” question intrigues me. Have you ever considered that you may be on the wrong side of this issue? It’s an honest question.

  9. Have I ever considered myself on the wrong side of this issue? No. Especially given the arguments you people make. What about yourself? I would guess not. You cant seem to even follow the argument coherently.

    1. If you read my first post I did not contest your equating waterboarding with torture. You may if you wish. I dont care. It doesnt matter what happened to your grandfather. US authorities waterboarding terrorist in order to glean information is no more the moral equivalent as it is to use any other sort of violence to remedy a situation that requires the use of violence. Cops having to shoot bad guys does not make cops as bad for having done so.

    2. I dont care if it were somehow discovered that more than three murdering fanatics were waterboarded. I doubt the Bush administration would care to lie about something they dont feel was wrong to do. The bourdon of proof that he lied however, is on you. Please try to stick with facts as they are.

    3. Waterboarding and beheading people are not the same thing. I have made no comparison. I dont know how you could. This was actually a good learning point for you and you could not grasp it. Your point was the silly assertion that terrorist might take our waterboarding as reason to fight harder or more brutally. More brutally than what? Than chopping peoples heads off? Than flying plane loads of people into buildings? I did not say that we should show more restraint. I said that we ALREADY DO and this INCLUDES waterboarding!!! Why is this so difficult for you? This is really not that hard.

    4. You wrote: “I suppose you COULD attempt to twist what I said to make it seem that I was suggesting that the only reason someone would want to attack Americans is due to Rumsfeld’s interrogation techniques. Clearly, that’s not the case. ” I was not putting words in your mouth. Just showing you how silly your torture-begets-terrorism argument is.

    5. Only a liberal could write this: “Are you really saying that people like Osama bin Laden wouldn’t use something like “oh, by the way, if they catch you they’ll torture you, like they did to _______ so fight to the death”” Honestly, do you people pay attention at all? These people regularly obliterate themselves along with their targets. They dont need any added motivation! This is what makes these people so dangerous. This is why we waterboard these people in the first place!! This is what you have to do, because they are so strongly motivated. They willingly kill innocent people along with themselves and your afraid Bin Laden might use waterboarding as a motivation to fight to the death? What’s wrong with you?

    6. And the last bit of liberal cognitive disconnect: “I don’t see torture as a path to peace.”
    Gee. I dont see blowing up hundreds of innocent people as a path to peace either. As long as these fanatics continue their war on innocent people, we should be taking those measures necessary to ensure their protection and if that includes waterboarding, so be it.

  10. @Harry

    I guess my grandfather’s experience with waterboarding doesn’t make you empathetic to my opposition to waterboarding. Fine. You missed MY point.

    I don’t oppose waterboarding because I am liberal, I oppose it because I heard a firsthand account from a close family member who experienced it.

    Your faith in the legitamate use of torture is a difference of opinion. You are entitled to it, but presuming that people who disagree with you have no rational beyond the paper tigers you construct is a sign that you are not exactly prepared for the Oxfiord Debate Society.

    Perhaps people can’t follow the coherence of your argument because there is no coherence. As far as I can tell you are just spitting venom at people who disagree with you.

  11. Again: Waterboarding is bad. Its nasty. Its extremely unpleasant. Its….tourture!!! I dont need to have had a relative who has experienced it nor do I have to “experiment” with it on myself to imagine it so. I wouldnt wish waterboarding on anyone else…unless of course it just happens to be the most effective means of breaking the will of people with plans on mass murdering your fellow citizens and fully intends to do so unless you are able to pry this information from them. This is what broke KSM, the mastermind of 9/11 who was planning another airliner delivered terrorist attack on the west coast. As for the venom, I have little patience for people who are unable to connect with reality on an issue of this importance.

  12. @Harry

    So you support waterboarding because it broke KSM?

    Do you believe this was the only way it could have been accomplished?

    What is your evidence for this?

  13. @Harry, here’s a quote from Ron Suskind that I think explains at least some of the differences in our opinion on this issue:

    “What the evidence shows is that there are cases in which some information that was valuable came from very, very harsh techniques,” Suskind says. “On balance, what the evidence shows more clearly is that torture creates many, many more problems than it can ever solve. That in some ways, that information is probably costing too much.”

    I see your perspective as short-term thinking that relies upon dehumanizing people to justify torture.

    I’m not sure about this, but it seems like you’re suggesting that people may be born as terrorists. At least, I’m trying to understand how you can suggest that torturing people would not be used to fuel the flames of anti-American propaganda. Are you suggesting that the flames already existed before we waterboarded people, so we may as well pour gas on the flames?

    Harry, I feel like I DO connect with reality. And I do consider it to be an extremely important issue. I just happen to see a different reality than the minority of Americans who share your opinion on this issue.

  14. @Ed and Harry

    Don’t we EVER discover that the person we interrogate doesn’t have the information we think they have?

    Isn’t it POSSIBLE that the information gained through torture is unreliable because the “subject” would say just about anything to get the torture to stop?

    Is torture really the “most effective means” to this end?

  15. @Matt, the ends don’t justify the means. Short term, the information gathered would be whatever people need to say to make the torture stop. Long term, we have to deal with the blowback fostered through torture.

  16. I know you guys like to imagine hundreds if not thousands of poor downtrodden brown people unfortunately caught up in George Bush’s illegal war for oil being waterboarded at the whim of Cheney’s hand-picked tobacco chewing NASCAR watching red-neck white boys out of vengeance or sport and in complete secrecy. This just was not the case. There were 3 people waterboarded out of the many detained. Think the number is higher? Prove it. Until then evaluate that as to whether or not this program was better thought out. The candidates were chosen because they were top tier individuals with information vital to the security of the United States and it had been determined this was the only method that would produce results, carried out by people who could tell the efficacy of the effort and properly evaluate the validity of the answers obtained. Far from being hastily done in secrecy, the Bush administration consulted constitutional and treaty lawyers and consultants and informed several members of congress including Nancy Pelosi (who’s now saying she was lied to) and the then current speaker of the house.

    As Ive already noted above, information contained from KSM led to the discovery of the plot to hijack a passenger aircraft and fly it into a building in Los Angeles. Do the ends justify the means? How can you say it doesnt?

  17. @Harry, the ACLU sued the government to get them to release CIA information where KSM admitted to making up information to stop the waterboarding. Outside of that, it seems like the well-cited Wikipedia entry about KSM shows that we don’t really know what happened (KSM was waterboarded somewhere between zero and 183 times).

    Attempting to create a caricature of our opinions may make them easier to dismiss. This isn’t an issue of race, oil, NASCAR, or American lifestyles. It’s about our government’s torture or fellow human beings.

    Question for ya: When the most powerful country in the world tortures members of one of the poorest countries in the world, how are we winning the hearts and minds of their residents?

  18. @Harry

    Why are you bringing race into this? I never did.

    Why are you talking about the vast number of people tortured? I never mentioned this.

    You keep arguing against things I have never said.

    Are you trying to make a case or spit venom?

  19. @ed

    I wasn’t saying that the end justified the needs, I was trying to understand Harry’s argument.

    Harry seems to believe that the 3 people who were waterboarded were waterboarded because it was necessary. Circular though it seems, he seems certain it is sensible. I guess our unanswered questions are unimportant when compared to his certainty.

    With vocabulary like “top tier” I am convinced he knows far more about national security than I do so I will surrender to his superior wit.

  20. Ed: “Question for ya: When the most powerful country in the world tortures members of one of the poorest countries in the world, how are we winning the hearts and minds of their residents?”

    Oh, you’re such a child. Are we torturing people because they’re poor?

  21. @Harry, I like to think that you’re capable of arguing without tossing in irrelevant insults.

    No, we’re not torturing people because they’re poor, and I think you know that that was not the point I was making.

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