Giuliani on Waterboarding: “It depends”

Yesterday, Rudy Giuliani said he didn’t know whether waterboarding is torture.

Rudolph W. Giuliani told a group of Iowans on Wednesday night that he favors the “aggressive questioning” of terrorists but that he does not know whether waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique, is torture.

Asked at a community meeting here whether he considered waterboarding torture, Mr. Giuliani said: “It depends on how it’s done. It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it.”He went on to say that the way the practice had been described in news reports — “particularly in the liberal media” — he did not believe it should be allowed. But he expressed doubts about whether it had been described accurately.

“America should not allow torture,” Mr. Giuliani said. “But America should engage in aggressive questioning of Islamic terrorists who are arrested or who are apprehended.”

Unfortunately, Giuliani seems to be buying into the Bush Administration’s view on waterboarding: when anyone else does it, it’s torture, but when we do it, it isn’t. But, as John Hutson, former judge advocate general of the Navy said last week after Judge Mukasey’s confirmation hearing , “Waterboarding was devised in the Spanish Inquisition. Next to the rack and thumbscrews, it’s the most iconic example of torture.”

The Supreme Court in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld held that humane treatment obligations of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions apply to “enemy combatants” in U.S. custody. President Bush issued an executive order requiring the CIA to comply with Common Article 3 in its interrogation of detainees. Thus, if the government uses techniques, such as waterboarding, and claims that they are allowed under Common Article 3, then it concedes that the same techniques could be used by other nations on captured US soldiers or citizens.

Finally, the United States has long considered waterboarding to be torture and a war crime.

1. A U.S. military court in 1901 convicted Major Edwin Glenn of subjecting a suspected insurgent in the Philippines to the “water cure.”
2. After World War II, U.S. military commissions prosecuted as war criminals several Japanese soldiers who subjected American prisoners to waterboarding.
3. A U.S. army officer was court-martialed in February 1968 for helping to waterboard a prisoner in Vietnam.


Published on October 25, 2007


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