The HOWTO torture site waterboarding.org launches today:
The confirmation vote for Michael Mukasey, nominee for United States Attorney General, is scheduled for Tuesday, November 6. In his confirmation hearing Judge Mukasey was asked for his opinion on waterboarding as a constitutionally valid technique for interrogation. Mukasey replied, "I don't know what's involved in the technique. ... I think it would be irresponsible of me to discuss particular techniques with which I am not familiar."

Waterboarding.org would like to offer to help the nominee become more familiar with water-based coercive interrogation techniques. Using unclassified sources, news reports, and historical records we are attempting to put together as clear a picture as possible of this technique, its history, its legality, and the scope of its use. We are also attempting to organize a group of doctors, paramedics, lawyers, and volunteers to allow anyone who remains confused or unclear on the details of waterboarding to safely subject themselves to as much of the technique as they are willing to endure.

We look forward to advising, educating, and assisting Michael Mukasey, future candidates, public figures, and anyone else who professes ignorance of our nation's most controversial coercive interrogation technique.



  1. Including, one would hope, free sample waterboarding for the ones who don’t think it’s such a big deal?

  2. This wouldn’t be necessary if Congress had the backbone to say “look, we’re not going to buy this ‘I don’t know what waterboarding is’ bullshit. Every American with a television or internet connection has seen descriptions and possibly demonstrations of the technique”.
    Claiming to not know what is now common knowledge should be reason enough to shoot down his nomination outright.

  3. holy crap, that’s horrible. I know it’d be naive to think that torturing doesn’t happen in the western world, but surely that’s just taking it a little too far?

  4. “Coercive interrogation technique” – Anywhere but America, land of the free and home of the brave, that would be called torture. Good on the site creators for providing the facts and letting people make up their own minds on this.

  5. Th ppl tlkng bt mpchng Bsh r frng mrns – nbdy tks ths nts srsly, nt vn ldng dms lk th trnlly srprsd Nncy Pls.

    Waterboarding, which hasn’t been used since 2003, was only used on three people. Each of whom were important Al Qaeda leaders. Very useful, actionable intel was gathered from these sessions that may have saved thousands of lives.

  6. If it’s torture it’s unconstitutional. Even torturing high level Al Qaeda leaders, no matter how horrible you think they are as humans, is not justifiable because it raises the question of “well if we can torture them, who else can we torture?”

  7. I’m interested that it was “only” used on 3 people – where does that stat come from? Does it come from the same source of information that tells us all how many people have been extraordinarily renditioned? From the same place that says half a million Americans need to be on a watchlist (we’re only up to 2000 people in the UK – small beer at the moment)? Or the same place that tells us that there were WMD in Iraq and that it was behind 9/11?

  8. @#2, “fringie morons” like Bruce Fein, a former Justice Department official during the Reagan administration who drafted articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton? He makes a very well-reasoned, patriotic, and ultimately non-partisan case for impeachment.

    But are you arguing that torture should be acceptable under some circumstances? For instance, if the one to be tortured is obviously a terrorist, and is obviously withholding information?

    So, you mentioned fringie morons. Exactly where is that line drawn?

  9. Very useful, actionable intel was gathered from these sessions that may have saved thousands of lives.

    Or not.

    Remember, any time you are reduced to saying “X may have done Y” you have also said, “X may NOT have done Y.” The two statements are semantically equivalent. The only non-contradictory thing you are saying is, “I have a need to believe that X did Y.”

    Making up numbers and stating them as fact is not an argument. Making up outcomes and stating them as fact is not an argument.

    And, for the sake of an argument, even if it were true that only three people were tortured, and all of them did by some unfathomable luck happen to be senior al Quaeda members, and even if by some greater improbability the intel they gave was both reliable and useful, torturing them would still be morally unconscionable, and the people advocating and defending the use of torture would be morally depraved monsters who are a danger to everyone.

  10. The quote attributed to Mukasey has also be attributed to Giuliani:

    “I should not take a position on waterboarding until I know precisely what we’re talking about. If we’re talking about what the media says constitutes waterboarding, I have said that I think that’s repulsive. But I’ve also said that I have not been briefed on precisely what we do. I would want to keep an open mind until I heard that.”

    – Rudy Giuliani

    < http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071105/ap_on_el_pr/giuliani_ap_interview_2;_ylt=AmaABWnzIDhtOTcU24yf.4QE1vAI>

    Which is correct… or do they have identical chips embedded in their brains?

  11. Waterboarding is torture, those who claim it is not are playing a weird semantical game. Dick Cheney insists “The US does not torture” but then defends waterboarding as a valid interrogation technique. It is obvious to me that he WANTS waterboarding to not be considered torture so that he has it in his arsenal. If you can play the intellectual game that “if it saves lives then it’s OK”, well, why stop at waterboarding then? Why not whips and thumbscrews and gang rape? After all, if “it saves lives”. . . ?

    What would the founding fathers think?

  12. Waterboarding is NOT torture. The democrats know this too, which one of the reasons why the Democrats have consented to the confirmation of Michael B. Mukasey.

  13. >>Waterboarding is NOT torture.

    I’m curious about what definition of “torture” you’re using.

    Collapsed lungs and drowning sure seem like “pain and suffering” to me.

  14. And the source for ABCNews.com is…hey, presto! The CIA! Which of course means the CIA doesn’t operate “extrordinary rendition” flights, either, nor conduct any torture at Guantanamo. Well, glad we cleared that up!

    And yes, Congress can outlaw just about anything it likes – as could the Executive branch, at least for itself, by means of an Executive Order. The question of whether or not such a law or order would be legally defensible is up to the Supreme Court. In the regular operation of the U.S. Government, such things are taken into account before they are passed…but these are anything but regular times in the operation of the government. Congress is paralyzed, and the Executive operates in an imperial mode. Neither is of ultimate benefit to the people of the U.S.

  15. Yes, very important note that Congress can outlaw waterboarding. Funny. Since when did this criminal administration care about any laws Congress passes? Ever heard of the insane amounts of signing statements the Shrub has used?

  16. http://www.mentaldribble.com

    “Very useful, actionable intel was gathered from these sessions that may have saved thousands of lives.”

    Hmmm, really? Says WHO?

    It seems to me that the vast majority of experts on this topic conclude that the information gathered from torture is weak at best. People will say anything to stop the pain.

  17. Um… only 3 that they have publically admitted to. This probably doesn’t include anyone at Abu Graib, not to mention any of the persons in custody with Blackwater, CIA secret ops and so on.

    The people running this Administration have very much lost my ability to believe they’re telling the truth about the time, much less whether or not prisoners have been treated in accord with the Geneva Conventions.

  18. Re: kevitivity’s link about waterboarding, note the final sentence of the article:

    Contacted after the completion of the ABC News Investigation, CIA official would neither confirm nor deny the accounts. They simply declined to comment.

    So, let me get this straight, kev… according to unnamed sources, the CIA used waterboarding only three times back in 2003… yet CIA officials would neither confirm nor deny this claim.

    Wow! That’s some really great proof you’ve got there, buddy. You’ve sure made a believer out of me.

    You got any inside info about UFO landings, or Jimmy Hoffa’s whereabouts?

  19. Wow, Kevitivity, dude, I can barely keep up with all this great stuff you’re puttin’ down:

    1. I read your fine article. “Quotes” from *anonymous* “CIA officials” are certainly all I need to convince me! After all, the CIA never lied to me about Iraq WMD, or Valerie Plame’s status, or how wonderfully effective “enhanced interrogation” techniques are (http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Investigation/story?id=1322866).

    2. Waterboarding is NOT torture because the Democrats haven’t banned it yet and because they only did it to three people. Cool! Hey, dudes, let’s dust off the thumbscrews! We’re golden, as long as we only use them on three guys and the Dems don’t ban them!

    Frankly, my friend, the only “fringe moron” posting here is you.

  20. Kevitivity, what kind of kool-aid have you been drinking? Waterboarding is unquestionably torture, it’s been used on more than three prisoners, and the “intel” it produces is worse than useless.

  21. DUUS: Kentivity needs to be rebutted, because some people will read him, and absent refutation, think him to be right.

    Waterboarding, which hasn’t been used since 2003, was only used on three people. Each of whom were important Al Qaeda leaders. Very useful, actionable intel was gathered from these sessions that may have saved thousands of lives.

    How put this succintly… ah, got it. Bullshit.

    Why do I say that? Because interrogation (and the teaching of same) is what I do. US Army, 1993 to present. Class 94 Echo 01 (OCT-DEC) 93. I was the V Corps Order of Battle NCOIC A/519th MI in during the shooting war. When the shooting stopped I was in a THT OMT, until I was medevacced.

    Google my name and torture, or interrogation to see other things I’ve said on the subject.

    The rest of this may get a little strongly worded. I think I can walk this side of disemvowelling, but if I don’t, just run the search.

    As to the claim that it’s only been used on three people, one of two things is going on here. 1: You are talking bollocks, and have no idea what you are talking about.

    2: You are in possession of classified information and in violation of the release documents you signed when read-on to the program you have published it.

    I am leaning toward one. Be glad of that. If you want to convince me that 2 is the case, I will be more than willing (in fact I would be duty bound) to inform a field office of the 902nd Intelligence Battalion about it, so they can investigate.

    To the meat of the matter.

    Torture doesn’t work. Since it doesn’t work, waterboarding (even so few as three people) hasn’t produced any actionable intel. Full stop.

    Torture doesn’t work because the subject will say anything to make it stop (and if you think waterboarding isn’t torture, make one, and let someone use it on you. Make sure you tell them to ignore your pleas to stop. That will be a pale imitation of the real thing, because you will know who is doing it, and knew in advance they weren’t going to kill you, and will stop).

    Since he will say anything (and, apparently) is claiming to be ignorant under more benign questioning, he is being asked things which he might not know anything about. When he starts to lie; you will have no way to verify the information.

    At which point the stream is either corrupted (most likely, since most people know nothing) or the information is uncorroborated, and needs someone else to confirm it, which means either 1: just as much time as a traditional interrogation would have taken, or will use more torture, and provide more suspect information.

  22. Mr. Karney, as you have experience from within the army, maybe you can answer something that I’ve never understood: if the military is aware that torture doesn’t work, then why does it continue to use it?

  23. Ah, thank you for linking to the details. That would be similar to the treatment the Dutch used on English spice traders at Amboyna in 1623 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amboyna_massacre/
    “This was the usual torture in the Dutch Indies at the time” (Wikipedia).

    Torture or, uh, coercive interrogation, it was unpleasant enough to induce the victims to confess to false capital charges, for which they were all executed. Must have been pretty nasty.

  24. Crash: The “Army” doesn’t. Some members of it have been convinced it is either legal, or functional.

    There are lots of reasons for that. 1: Command pressure. The people at the top have no clue as to how interrogation works (it’s an enlisted/NCO job. Officers don’t do it).

    2: There isn’t much institutional knowledge. What there is lives between the ears of people like me. As people like me leave, those who have little experience, and are under pressure from those who have no clue (and suffer from the poor logic which makes people think 1: they would break, and 2: they would never confess to something false) they are corrupted.

    Once corrupted, they have a vested interest in torture working (who wants to say they burned someone with cattle prods, beat them with hoses and such other indecencies as are perpetrated, were all for nothing), so they preach the gospel of “lots of information was collected, and thousands of lives were saved, which those who are willing to give over to fantasy and authoritarianism then accept.

  25. Kevitivity –

    After World War II, the US tried and sentenced Japanese soldiers for the crime of having waterboarded American prisoners.

    If waterboarding is not torture, then are you suggesting we pay their survivors reparations?

  26. IF waterboarding is not torture, then prove it– those who suggest waterboarding is not torture should be subjected to it.

    After all, Asst. Attorney General Levin offered to try it to see, and he did it under close supervision, with medical personnel present (so logically he would know that his life was not in danger), and yet he STILL felt his life was in danger, and confirmed that “YES it is torture.” And I’m sure he went into it hoping to confirm it wasn’t torture.

    So those of you who suggest it isn’t torture– are you calling a member of the Bush Justice Department a liar?

  27. I sent a message to Mr Schumer and Ms Feinstein:
    “When America’s enemies capture our soldiers you can rest assure that your efforts to confirm Mr Mukasey will give them the righteous belief that it is ok to torture American POWs, since obviously OUR policy makers are ambivalent and have shown no reluctance to use torture on enemy combatants.”

  28. Er, Miasma, surely you realize that America’s enemies already employ torture on prisoners (of war or otherwise), often to the death, sometimes followed by beheading the corpse and dragging it through the streets tied to the back bumper of a car.

    I’m not quite sure how anything we do can make our enemies any more horrible than they already are. I’m not quite sure there’s anything we can do to make them any nicer, either. Some people are just evil to the core.

  29. No-one is evil to the core- just insanely angry (terrorist) or neurotically insecure and tragically retarded (freedom fighter).

    The sooner American people can understand what the anger of “their enemies” is about the sooner we can hope to see the slaughter diminishing instead of escalating.

    Amerika’s enemies are not *your* enemies, unless you “choose” to swallow the war propaganda- the same one since the 50’s , just different enemies.

    If you join in the war, then you can expect to have lethal enemies. If you want to support biological and cultural genocide in the name of a very expensive and fake freedom, cheap gas and gadgets, you can expect to have enemies.

    I wonder what it is that drives middle aged women with families to become suicide bombers?

    This isn’t a battle between good and evil, unless our philosophical background is Star Wars.

    A real shame George Lucas sold out after THX1138, he could have done a lot of good work educating our generation.
    Instead , he gave us metaphysical neurosis. Darth Vader as the ultimate fetish for an entire culture- more sex than Skywalker and Leia put together.

  30. America’s enemies are *my* enemies when they “choose” to blow up buildings I might happen to be standing in.

    If you want to support the abandonment of Israel and the subsequent armageddon style conflict that would erupt in the middle east, we can certainly avoid having enemies. Millions of people will die, but at least they won’t be Americans, right? They’ll be mostly the people involved in the nuclear war that would erupt when Iran goes unchecked for about 10 more years and forces a battle to the death with Israel (possibly less than 10 years, depending on how fast they can invade Iraq and turn the extra oil fields into a profit). I also expect that with an isolationist America, China would certainly capture Taiwan and I don’t see why they wouldn’t go after Japan while they’re at it.

    I think an America that doesn’t want to have any enemies is going to be the first thing that ushers in a new world war. These other powers out there aren’t holding back out of the kindness of their hearts, they’re holding back because they fear retribution from America.

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