Reject reinstatement of waterboarding
Near the end of former President George W. Bush’s time in office, high-level members of his administration decided to discontinue the torture practice of waterboarding on the grounds that the practice was illegal. Just ask Stephen Bradbury, head of the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice under Bush, who in early 2008 stated “there has been no determination by the Justice Department that the use of waterboarding, under any circumstances, would be lawful under current law.” But despite the illicit nature of waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique used during interrogations, not everyone in the United States has given up on trying to justify its usefulness, especially in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death. The event gave many proponents of the practice the chance to claim that without information obtained via waterboarding, the Al Qaeda leader would not have been found. Perhaps the most high-profile supporters of waterboarding at this moment are three GOP presidential hopefuls. Herman Cain, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Texas Gov. Rick Perry all stated at a recent debate that they would like to reinstate the use of waterboarding. The problem with this desire to return to waterboarding, though, is that it relies on misleading semantics and hazy evidence to make its case.
Cain and others are quick to point out that they support waterboarding because it is not torture but “enhanced interrogation.” Of course, no one is actually fooled by this attempt at obscuring the issue with weak wordplay. “Enhanced interrogation” is nothing more than the family-friendly name for torture, like referring to sex as “making love” instead of dropping the dreaded “f-bomb.” While proponents of waterboarding say that it is an important interrogation technique, there is no proof that any of the information extracted via waterboarding actually led to finding bin Laden or any terrorist. In fact, a large portion of the information on bin Laden’s whereabouts came not from tortured prisoners, but from Pakistani informants, including an Army major.
As a world power and one of the most developed nations on the globe, the United States should act as an example for other nations to follow. It cannot be such an example if it resorts to violating human rights through torture. Instead, the United States should look to diplomacy whenever possible and remember that our nation is built on the free and equal treatment of all people. It should not perpetuate barbarism such as waterboarding.