December 4, 2020

Editorial: Water under the bridge

America finds itself back in the waterboarding debate as competition for the Republican presidential candidacy heats up. At Saturday’s debate, three hopefuls embraced the controversial practice, perhaps as a way to gain more attention.
Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry all said they would reinstate waterboarding as an acceptable interrogation practice if elected. Waterboarding, which was embraced by George W. Bush’s administration, is currently outlawed under President Obama.
The Journal is seriously disappointed in the GOP for making the use of torture techniques an actual option for the United States. Haven’t we been taught from birth that America is the land of freedom and equality?
Sure, Perry claims that waterboarding is an “enhanced interrogation technique” that in no way goes against international torture laws. The United Nations disagrees with Perry, stating as far back as 2008 that waterboarding should be, and can be, prosecuted as an act of torture.
Then again, America has a habit of ignoring much of what the U.N. says. Maybe they should pay attention to U.S. history for the solution to this debate. The single purpose of waterboarding is to simulate the sensation of impending death by drowning, and America hanged Japanese soldiers known to use waterboarding on our own soldiers in World War II.
We don’t mean to call America a hypocrite, but those are the facts — if we don’t allow other nations to use waterboarding against us, we shouldn’t consider ourselves above the same standard. If we become violent and unreasonable in our quest for security, what peace can there be? What nation will look sympathetically upon us?
What may be an even better question than the ethical approach is the practicality of waterboarding potential terrorists. At the debate, Bachmann claimed that disallowing waterboarding deprives the CIA of a valuable interrogation tool.
But it’s not. Senator John McCain told the Washington Post that waterboarding al-Qaida prisoner Khalid Sheik Mohammed more than 150 times never gave the CIA a concrete lead on finding and eventually killing Osama Bin Laden.
The GOP should take a piece of advice from The Journal — when a respected Republican politician like McCain (who fought bravely in our military, unlike a number of 2012 contenders, and was once held, tortured and starved by enemies of war) backs away from a practice like waterboarding, presidential hopefuls should probably follow suit.
America prides itself on being a leader in the world, setting an example for prosperity and growth. Allowing the CIA to interrogate prisoners through simulated drowning puts America behind many other respected nations and goes against all that the U.S. claims to stand for.
The Journal realizes that Webster is a school with strong emphasis and an active role in pursuing human rights, justice and equality. We feel within our bounds when we say to Cain and those politicians similarly minded, waterboarding is one talking point that should be off the table for good.

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