Republican Politician Admits that Waterboarding Is Torture

Speaking before the American Bar Association, former Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, went against most of his fellow Republican politicians, at least on the subject of torture: “And I believe, unlike others in the administration, that waterboarding was, is, and will always be torture. That’s a simple statement.”

Author: Laurence Vance

Laurence Vance holds degrees in history, theology, accounting, and economics. He has written and published twelve books and regularly contributes articles and book reviews to both secular and religious periodicals.

26 thoughts on “Republican Politician Admits that Waterboarding Is Torture”

  1. Too bad Mr. Ridge didn’t say that when he was the acting Secretary of Homeland Security. It might prevented someone’s torture. Oh well, better late than never.

  2. Well, see the Constitution talks about “cruel and unusual punishment”, not “cruel and unusual interrogation”, right?

    So torture is okay on some innocent until proven guilty, right?

    Then, you prove him guilty with torture, and you fry him, right?

    Strict constructionism–THE GOOD OLD AMERICAN WAY!

    I am sure a young jurist studying law at Liberty University will get all the legal fine points lined up one day.

  3. Unlike Scalia who thinks that torture is just fine, it would seem:

    More and more, it becomes apparent that Catholics seriously interested in seeing that the human life is protected at every stage of its development need to scrutinize more carefully the “pro-life” Supreme Court appointees that are so uncritically receiving their support at the present time. Are they the kind that would appear to hold to the so-called “unitary” concept of the executive that would provide cover for the many abuses of liberty – including torture – now so closely identified with the Bush Regime? I say no Catholic worth the name could support a nominee with such an outlook any more than they could a politician that promotes war, abortion, embryonic stem-cell research or the destruction of the environment. When life issues become the property of Nazis its time to take a second look.

    1. I second that, and would add: too many Catholics have been suckered into the political far right by forgetting that the agendas of mainstream social conservatism and its disingenuous use of the term "pro-life" are often inconsistent with Catholic views on social justice.

      1. Hello Weston,

        You say:

        “…too many Catholics have been suckered into the political far right by forgetting that the agendas of mainstream social conservatism and its disingenuous use of the term “pro-life” are often inconsistent with Catholic views on social justice…”

        Yes, indeed, and not only the social teaching. The curious silence of Fr. Richard Neuhaus regarding the Bush stem-cell compromise in 2001, or Neuhaus’s and Michael Novak’s notorious apologetic for this vicious war, that in the teeth of the Holy Father’s clear condemnation of it. Imbued initially years ago with just a touch of neo-con ideology and by now thoroughly poisoned by it, Neuhaus has turned the influential journal, FirstThings, into a kind of ReichsChurch house organ. He is an embarrassment to the faith in my view.

  4. Yes, water boarding is a kind of torture and you all should be proud of John McCain for being against it.

    But by the way, just remember, the Islamists will use torture whenever and wherever they feel like it. They have no regard whatsoever for the sanctity of life ( unless of course you are a fellow radical Muslim) So we as Americans should never stoop down to their level. All life is sacred and we are better than that.

    And one more thing, its fine to be against torture, there is no excuse for it, however, stop worrying so much about the IslamoFascists at Gitmo. They get copies of the Quran ( so they can learn more hatred) and are allowed to get on the floor and pray five times a day and they are well fed. I wonder, if an American citizen and Christian fell in to the hands of HAMAS or Hizzbolah or Islamic Jihad or Al Quida or any of their detestable clubs, how would he be treated? Would he get a copy of the Bible? Would he get to say his prayers? Would he not be tortured? Instead of constantly and EXCLUSIVELY bashing the United States, how about worrying about people living under Islamic totalitarianism. People on here are always angry at the US, but you always let Islamic violence off the hook, well stop making excuses for it!

    1. That McCain is against torture is a damnble lie. He supported the MCA knowing full well that it gave the president the authority to selectively torture. His “opposition” was cosmetic, for public consumption and no more. The man is a 24 carat phoney.

    2. The U.S. employs those Islamic torturers in Syria and Egypt when we send prisoners there.

      Israel helped create and support Hamas since the early 1980s. U.S. provides tuition to students attending Hamas’ Gaza university. Israel’s 2006 Lebanon War strengthened Hezbollah and weaken Siniora’s government.

      Bush’s invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq have increased Iran’s influence by taking out the Taliban and Saddam Hussein who saw himself as a bulwark against Iran and the Iranian Revolution.

      Yes, Israel and the US have been strengthening radical Islam by their policies.

    3. How does Tim R. know that those in Gitmo are guilty? Because the government he worships and trusts without question has told him they are, and that’s good enough for him. After all, we are dealing with a public instution with a proven track record of honesty and integrity… right? lol. Never mind that it has been repeatedly demonstrated that Amerika has been filling up its many gulags in places like Iraq and Afghanistan with overwhelmingly innocent people, as even the authorities running these institutions have been forced to admit.

      As far as “Islamic violence” goes, Tim R. could use a history lesson. In the postwar years, no other country on the planet Islamic or no comes anywhere even remotely close to the level of violence (overwhelmingly) Christian Amerika has directed against other countries. While the victims of terrorist violence, including terrorist organizations that aren’t Islamic, number in the thousands during this time period, the number of Amerika’s victims literally number in the millions. Sadly, this propensity for violence on a massive scale is not an anomaly of the postwar years. Amerika has literally been at war in some form or another somewhere in the world since its inception. If that’s not a sign of a deeply pathological society I don’t know what is.

      By the way, pointing at violence committed by others is simply a form of misdirection. The equivalent of yelling, “look over there, a thief” as I’m picking your pocket. In addition to a history lesson, Tim R. could also use a lesson in logic.

      1. Maybe you need a history lesson as well. Are you aware of the manner in which Islam was spread? Are you aware of what Mohammed did to passing caravans if they did not convert? Are you aware of how much death and destruction was wrought from the earliest days of this peaceful religion? Are you aware that they got as far as Spain and even into France before a great heroe by the name of Charles Martel stopped them? As for America, yes, I have to admit that you are right in as much as we do have a propensity for violence. However, I would argue that most of the time we employ violence it is to meet a noble objective. We wanted to defeat fascism and nazism so we fire bombed Dresden and Tokyo. The goal was noble, right, and just; however, the means we employed were not. Killing innocent people is never morally justified. But what are the goals of the IslamoFascist? To create a world wide Islamic theocracy.

    4. Gee Tim, asking us to be proud of John McCain because he is opposed to water boarding is like asking us to be proud of Hitler because he was kind to dogs. It’s true but trivial compared to McCain’s thirst for the destruction and carnage of eternal war.

      Furthermore what makes you so certain that only “IslamoFascists” are being warehoused at Gitmo? People are cruelly held there to be tortured on hearsay. They are held in solitary confinement, without charges, without legal representation and without trials. They are hooded, shackled and exposed nonstop to loud noises. That’s not exactly an environment conducive to separating the “IslamoFascist” terrorists from the innocent.

      That’s why Western civilization has developed a quaint concept called due process. In case you don’t know, that’s a procedure for ascertaining facts while protecting the innocent. And facts are very important to those of us not comfortable with faking reality. Protecting the innocent is also important to those of who care about justice. Due process is like applying the scientific method to justice. In fact, due process is one of those things that has made Western civilization possible.

      It’s nice that you are worried “about people living under Islamic totalitarianism” on the other side of the earth. But that’s akin to fretting over broken windows across town while your house is on fire. In case you haven’t noticed, fascism, JudeoChristoFascism to be precise, has come to Main Street in the form of police state laws such as the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act and the Homegrown Terrorism Act. These are all attacks on what makes America America – our quaint Bill Of Rights. We even have our very own Gestapo – Homeland Security.

      Your dreaded “IslamoFascists” have been awfully quiet in America since 9/11 but not the homegrown variety. The JudeoChristoFascists are running amuck. They have infiltrated the government, military and media, and they are braying for war, glorious war against both foreigners and the American people. If these people have their way, Gitmos will be spawning all over America to house not darkskinned men with unpronounceable names but Americans with names like Smith and Jones.

      So Tim, forget the “IslamoFascist” mirage. It’s only an excuse to saddle us with the real thing, the truly scary JudeoChristoFascism.

      1. Question for MetaCynic,

        Do you believe that due process rights under the 5th and 14th Amendments should be extended to sworn and indefatigable enemies of the United States? Do you believe that due process rights should be granted to our enemies( who are not US citizens) in a time of war? Do you believe that the Constitution applies to American Citizens or to all the people on earth? I am just curious as to how far you believe these rights should be extended. Are you aware that the Supreme Court has said that the Constitution is not a “suicide pact” and rights can be limited in a time of war or national emergency? ( See Ex parte Milligan and Korematsu v. the United States)

        1. Well Tim, people who create a drunken disturbance aboard an airplane can now be prosecuted under the Patriot Act. A case of corruption in Las Vegas was recently prosecuted under the Patriot Act. Just this past year, outdoor concert goers in Tennessee(?) were threatened with arrest under the Patriot Act by federal police manning a roadblock at the event just because someone taped them stopping and searching people going to the concert. Are we to believe that all those targets are “sworn and indefatigable enemies of the United States” and deserved to have their rights trampled just because the Bush administration has illegally dragged us into an immoral war?

          That’s what happens when a free people carelessly slacken their vigilance. The psychopath politicians, bureaucrats and police, always among us, will not hesitate to increasingly employ these police state powers to abuse us – the very people that they are supposedly protecting. This totalitarian impulse is always present in any government and must be eternally guarded against. As always, threats to liberty from domestic threats are always greater than foreign ones.

          That’s why the Founders gave us a Bill Of Rights and a government with powers severely limited by the Constitution. That’s not a suicide pact. That’s what’s required for peace, prosperity and justice. Just as a person wishing to remain alive will not tolerate the tiniest cancer in his body, so should a people wishing to remain free not tolerate the slightest encroachment on their liberty. To do so, now that’s a suicide pact!

          As for who the protections of the Constitution should apply to, my answer is everyone residing within the U.S. and everyone within the custody of U.S. government employees.

          How do you propose to identify individual enemies of the U.S. without applying due process? If you were the commander running Gitmo and the military brought in a detainee sold to them as a terrorist enemy of America by an Afghan bounty hunter, what would you do? Take their word for it and lock him away in solitary confinement and throw away the key? Or would you question the man and be told that the bounty hunter is a business rival who denounced him because he covets the detainee’s wife and goats. Now what would you do? Release the man or interrogate him more “intensely?” You could increase the pressure until the man breaks down and confesses to all sorts of grisly crimes and intentions just as you, of course, expected him to do under such methods. Would you now pat yourself on the back for having faked reality and expect a promotion for saving America from yet another “sworn and indefatigable enemy of the United States?”

          Or perhaps would your attitude be that the man might be entirely innocent but you have no way of knowing either way? So, just to be safe, you waste him and scores more like him with the consolation that American lives are more precious than those of the teeming dark skinned races. Such is the slippery moral slope that awaits those who disdain due process.

    5. Tim R.,

      To quote Danilo Kis: “The nationalist is by definition an ignoramus.” I seriously doubt that there is anything that you could ever teach me about history. I’m referring to authentic history–not the dumbed-down, whitewashed tripe fed to those who are unfortunate enough to endure the public school system in this country.

      The “my God is better than your God” debate is a silly and pointless one that I’m not going to engage in with you. I view all religions as equally silly and irrational. And the proselytizing religions infested with fundamentalists like Christianity and Islam are the worst of them all. Neither has a more noble history than the other. This includes recent history as well as the distant past. What’s more, what happened in the Middle Ages is completely irrelevant to the discussion and is just another hand-waving attempt on your part to distract.

      As far as Amerika’s violent foreign policy, there is precious little that is “noble” about it. I mentioned the postwar years in particular. While I’ve studied this period in Amerikan history in painful detail, I’ll let Paul Harris provide a succinct summary:

      “The US claims to be a nation of peace lovers, but since the end of the Second World War, it has been at war with: China (1945-46); Korea (1950-53); Guatemala (1954 and again 1967-69); Cuba (1959-60); Belgian Congo (1964); Dominican Republic (1965); Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia (1959-75); Lebanon (1976 and again 1982-1984); Iran (1980); Grenada (1983); Libya (1986); El Salvador (1980-92); Nicaragua (1981-90); Panamá (1989); Iraq (1991); Somalia (1993); Haiti (1994-1995); Bosnia-Herzegovina (1995); Sudan (1998); Yugoslavia (1999); Afghanistan (2001-02); Iraq (2003-2???). Have I missed any?

      “In the same period, the US has attempted to overthrow or displace more than 40 foreign governments; they have conducted unprovoked military assaults on some 20 nations; they have crushed more than 30 populist movements which were fighting against US-sanctioned dictatorial regimes. The US provided indispensable support to a small army of brutal dictatorships: Mobutu in Zaïre, Pinochet in Chile, Duvalier in Haiti, Somoza in Nicaragua, the Greek junta, Marcos in the Philippines, Rhee in Korea, the Shah in Iran, 40 years of military dictators in Guatemala, Suharto in Indonesia, Hussein in Iraq (remember him?), the Brazilian junta, Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and others.

      “As well, they dropped powerful bombs on the people of about 25 countries, including 40 consecutive days and nights in Iraq, 78 days and nights in the former Yugoslavia, and a few months in Afghanistan. These latter three countries met the primary requirement for an American bombing target — they were utterly defenseless.

      “Not content with conventional warfare, they have also ramped up an increased use of depleted uranium, a truly despicable weapon which produces grossly deformed babies and a long slow death amongst those unfortunate enough not to actually be standing at ground zero. This weaponry, by the way, meets every US criteria for a so-called ‘weapon of mass destruction’; it is clear that while the US might not care for other countries even thinking about WMDs, they are quite willing to take those same weapons out for a test drive themselves. And as an added bonus, they happily drop cluster bombs willy-nilly and refuse to ban landmines.

      “There have been assassination attempts on the lives of about 40 foreign political leaders, and there is no secret about the US being behind theses attempts. At the same time, they have interfered in dozens of foreign democratic elections, manipulated trade union movements, manufactured news. There is credible evidence of America supplying handbooks, materials and encouragement for the practice of torture, chemical or biological warfare along with the testing of these weapons, and the use of powerful herbicides causing terrible damage to people and environments in China, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Panamá, Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia and elsewhere.

      “The CIA has encouraged and aided drug trafficking in various parts of the world when it served their purposes, and supported death squads, particularly in Latin America. And the US has caused terrible harm to the health and well-being of the world’s masses by tightening the screws of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, and other international financial institutions, and by imposing unmerciful sanctions and embargoes.

      “Gratefully, the Americans are peace lovers or this could be a much longer list.”

      As far as your hysteria regarding “IslamoFascists” and your idiotic fears over a “world wide islamic theocracy”, even if we indulge you in your irrational fantasies and pretend that the entire Islamic world is some monolithic block all conspiring against us, all of the Muslim-majority countries in the world together don’t have the GDP of Spain and their military capabilities are laughable. They are simply incapable of presenting any sort of strategic threat to the U.S., not to mention the “wide world” of your fevered imagination. The reality of course is that the U.S. government is in bed with and supports most of the Islamic world’s autocratic governments and the radicalized and violent elements in these societies with an explicit anti-American agenda with a few exceptions are hardly representative of the mainstream throughout the entire Islamic world. As far as those who are willing to take up arms against us, people (nationalists) who are entirely ignorant of human nature are seemingly surprised that people living in other countries don’t want to be militarily occupied and slaughtered en masse by the U.S. government. People are funny that way.

      Anyway, given that I’m statically more likely to be killed by a police officer in my own country or even by a bolt of lightening than I am a terrorist, I spend more time worrying about what I’m going to have for lunch. As far as the threat of a “world wide Islamic theocracy”, I spend as much time worrying about that as I do an invasion from little green men from the planet Mars.

      1. All of the above, fr.bread&circuses, but don’t forget to mention the aid and abetment we provide Israel to maim and assassinate.

  5. Another question for MetaCynic,

    Since America is over 80% Christian and you believe that “Judeo Christian Fascism” is such a danger to your liberty, why not move to a country that is niether Jewish nor Christian?

    1. Since the U.S. government has troops stationed in about 120 countries around the world and is propping up who knows how many puppet dictators and is, furthermore, threatening yet others with economic sanctions, depleted uranium, nukes, and invasion, it would be difficult to escape the tentacles of our nascent JudeoChristoFascism. But frankly, why should I have to go anywhere? I want my country back from the freedom snatchers just as the Founders intended. It should be those who value the illusion of security more than liberty who do the leaving. North Korea would be a suitable destination.

      I, however, do have a modest proposal that would satisfy both the power hungry psychopaths and the easily frightened masochists yearning to be abused and protected while liberating us risk taking souls. Disney could build a franchise of an archipelago of gulags with fun names such as “Adventures In Security” or “Resorts Without Risk.” The staff could be recruited from the psychopaths and the inmates could be all those who jump at their own shadows. Instead of coarse slogans such as “Arbeit Macht Frei” above the gates, new inmates could be greeted with a Disney character passing out “It’s For The Children” tee shirts. Americans will tolerate any outrage if they’re told that it’s for the children.

      Such a harmless celebration of fear and self abasement would be supremely entertaining for the freedom loving elite and immensely profitable for anyone who buys Disney call options.

    2. Wow! That’s a great question – I had to answer myself in 2004 (after the Iraq invasion). Not being born in the US, although deeply sympathetic with the cause of personal freedom I did not feel obligated (and being a foreigner having zero protection from the US Govt.) to stay in the US. So, I had to move somewhere. But any country in the World, which is not an extension of US rule is subject to bombing and other fun activities. So you either have to praise the US (and having seen it from a close distance – I can’t) – or expect bombs and troops.

      Fortunately I’m a citizen of Russia…. And having 4000 nuclear missiles to keep US under some control gives me SOME peace of mind. But the SDI which is being actively developed around Russia makes me very upset. Be rest assured – I will support and compain for any political force that invests more into keeping the MAD intact.

      And the ONLY reason for Russia’s current economical well-being is this old nuclear sward – crafted by prior generations, under the steel fist rule of Stalin. But he is gone, his victims are gone – and we are now getting some payback from that investment of sweat and blood. Have to work tirelessly though on keeping it from rusting.

      Quite a sad World we live in, isn’t it?

  6. Of course waterboarding is torture, but so what? The American people – every single one of them – KNEW that Bush was running torture chambers BEFORE the American people rewarded Bush with a second term in power, back in 2004.

    With the majority of American people unconcerned about America’s torture chambers – so long as OTHER people’s kids are being tortured there – why should American politicians care? It’s not like political support for torture chambers might cost them their seat or something….

    Family values.

    1. And what is the logical extension of such political trend?

      IMHO – The World at large hates the US more and more. So – this road goes not to the temple, but to the Nuclear World War I.

      But as long as US does not have the SD to neutralize Russian nuclear forces – the Russia is the only country that can be more or less content with the US. But non-SD treaty is gone…

      If there was some brain in the heads of US elite (and people) they should swallow that hard fact – Russia has the key (N.sword) – and the US has to share its unequal position with Russia. Russians being as they are – barbarian, uneducated, swearing on even the sacred (Jews). Let Russia exist as it wishes – stop talking dirty, silence your doggies (Ukraine, Georgia, Poland, Baltics), talk to allies (UK, France), allow Germany to NOT talk dirty about Russia. Then the US can have it’s way for another 30 years.

      But what we have now – is SD arm’s race. The window of opportunity to get to peace with Russia is closed. Resources are abundant to work on better SD. Angry patriots in technology, science, military are widely present. It is impossible to seal Russia under the iron curtain any more – due to China – which US depends on, and which loves Russia (mutually) after all. It was only due to efforts of pro-Western Ukranian origin politicians that have taken over the USSR after Stalin’s death that Russia/China hostility had existed. Fortunately – first time after Katherine the Great, Russia’s elite is free of Ukranian traitors (don’t get me wrong – my own ancestors are from there :-), but those that affiliated with the West had done the wrong choice. I want to be with Asia.

      But when God wants to punish someone – He takes sanity from them.

  7. I say do what ever it takes to get the information you need.

    Other countries do it and have been doing it for years. I dont see why its such a problem now. It seems to be working fine i think.

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