Monday, December 24, 2007

Waterboarding: A Call to Martyrdom

Mark Bowden, writing in The Philadelphia Inquirer, offers his defense of waterboarding as a tool for gathering operational information (as opposed to gathering legally actionable evidence):
It is an ugly business, and it is rightly banned. The interrogators who waterboarded Zubaydah were breaking the law. They knew they were risking their careers and freedom. But if the result of the act itself was a healthy terrorist with a bad memory vs. a terror attack that might kill hundreds or even thousands of people, it is a good outcome. The decision to punish those responsible for producing it is an executive one. Prosecutors and judges are permitted to weigh the circumstances and consider intent.

Which is why I say that waterboarding Zubaydah may have been illegal, but it wasn't wrong.
Accepting, for the sake of argument, Bowden's definition of waterboarding as "torture," what is the logical outcome of his viewpoint? That our interrogators must operate with the knowledge that they are subject to arrest and imprisonment at any time, just for doing their jobs effectively.

How long will we be able to find patriotic, courageous people willing to do what they must to save innocent lives, knowing all along that their careers and freedom are hostage to the whims of cowardly, hypocritical politicians who will sell them up the river for a few percent swing in a close election?