As I said few months ago, when it comes to the issue of whether waterboarding is torture I trust experts like former Navy SEAL and SERE instructor Malcolmn Nance over speechwriters like Marc Thiessen. Now Nance is offering to help make Theissen an expert on the topic :
I spent twenty years in intelligence and four years in the SERE program waterboarding people before I ever opened my mouth on the subject. Marc Thiessen is a fool of the highest magnitude if he thinks he knows anything about waterboarding. His claims are based not on first-hand experience but on a classified briefing from people with an agenda of justifying what was done. That makes Thiessen into a court stenographer for war criminals rather than a person with any real claim of expertise. As for his claim about the relationship between Pol Potera waterboarding and what we have done derived from the SERE program, hes wrong. Before I arrived at SERE, I went to S21 prison in Cambodia. Right next to the Wall of Skulls sits the exact waterboard platform that the SERE program copied for our own use in the training program. Remember, our goal was to prepare pilots for the techniques they might face if they fell into the hands of our enemies. I was waterboarded on arrival at SERE, and then as a senior staffer, I performed the technique or supervised it through hundreds of evolutions.
Thiessens central purpose is apparently to glorify the most extreme practices used by the CIA in the Bush era and to argue that each of these practices, including waterboarding, is vitally necessary to our national securityeven though no president used them before, and it seems that President Bush himself halted many of these practices over Cheneys objection. We have prosecuted and convicted men for using these techniques in the past, and we were right to do so.
This suggests to me that, while he may cite Thomas Aquinas, Thiessen has no sense of honor and no moral compass. I give him credit for his loyalty to the Cheneys, but hes blind to their errors in judgment. The use of waterboarding and other torture techniques was a powerful recruitment tool for Al Qaeda; it spawned thousands of would-be suicide bombers. Thiessen claims that we gained intelligence by using these torture techniques. But this shows that he knows nothing about the intelligence process or how our enemy grows and sustains itself.
Thousands of American POWs died and suffered resisting torture practices that we have always called the tools of the enemy. The SERE program was designed to help them grapple with this inhumanity and retain their dignity in the face of it. Now Thiessen and his boss want us to embrace the tactics we used in that programtaken from the Russians, the Communist Chinese, the North Koreans, the North Vietnamese, the Khmer Rougeas our own. He claims that these techniques are unpleasant but have no long-term physical or mental impact. Really? I challenge him to put up or shut up. I offer to put him through just one hour of the CIA enhanced interrogation techniques that were authorized in the Bush Administrations OLC memosincluding the CIA-approved variant of waterboarding. If at the end he still believes this is not torture, Ill respect his viewpoint. But not until then. By the way, I can assure you that, within that hour, Ill secure Thiessens written admission that waterboarding is torture and that his book is a pack of falsehoods. Hell give me any statement I want in order to end the torture.
If Theissen takes Nance up on his offer, survives an hour of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” and then is still able to claim that it isn’t torture, then I’ll stop making the claim that waterboarding is torture. I’ll go on record right now and say that I’ll never write another word about waterboarding if he accepts the challenge.
Of course Theissen won’t do it. Despite the foolish claims he makes about waterboarding, I don’t think he’s a fool. He may be willing to claim it isn’t torture from the comfort of his easy chair but even he knows that once strapped to the waterboard he’d have to admit the truth. It’s much easier to claim to be an expert on waterboarding until you truly do become a expert.
(Via: Mark Shea )
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