Ms. Gustitus said: “[Mukasey] said he didn’t know if waterboarding is torture.”
Mr. Giuliani said: “Well, I’m not sure it is either. I’m not sure it is either. It depends on how it’s done. It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it. I think the way it’s been defined in the media, it shouldn’t be done. The way in which they have described it, particularly in the liberal media. So I would say, if that’s the description of it, then I can agree, that it shouldn’t be done. But I have to see what the real description of it is. Because I’ve learned something being in public life as long as I have. And I hate to shock anybody with this, but the newspapers don’t always describe it accurately.”
It should go without saying, that Giuliani is a gruesome authoritarian by nature, but this exchange is especially revealing. Mukasey-like, he denounces the use of torture while pretending not to have sufficient information to judge whether waterboarding meets the definition of torture. This is nonsense, of course. Along with the rack, there is no more notorious method of torture than waterboarding; there is no special technique (disguised by the liberal media, as Giuliani would contend) that would make waterboarding acceptable under international law or bring it into conformity with any standard of morality. As Phillip Carter and Dahlia Lithwick pointed out the other day
[e]verybody knows what [waterboarding] involves, and even if you live in an igloo without wireless, you can tell it’s illegal. The argument that you can’t call it torture until you’ve been “read into” the torture program is just a lawyer’s trick that justifies keeping bad conduct secret to end-run the laws.
Later in his response, Giuliani repeats the Bush administration’s false belief that “terrorists” — so labeled at the president’s discretion — are not covered by the Geneva Convention, and he invokes the illogical “ticking time bomb” scenario to further lard his vision of an executive power unrestrained by law.
Most interesting, though, is Giuliani’s brief and jocular defense of sleep deprivation, which — along with the kinder, gentler methods of simulated drowning that the liberal media refuses to tell us about — apparently doesn’t count as torture either. “I mean, on that theory,” Giuliani surmises, “I’m getting tortured running for president of the United States. That’s plain silly. That’s silly.”
Well, here’s Menachem Begin famously describing the “silly” time he spent with Soviet intelligence officials, who detained and tortured him during World War II:
In the head of the interrogated prisoner, a haze begins to form. His spirit is wearied to death, his legs are unsteady, and he has one sole desire: to sleep… Anyone who has experienced this desire knows that not even hunger and thirst are comparable with it.
I came across prisoners who signed what they were ordered to sign, only to get what the interrogator promised them.
He did not promise them their liberty; he did not promise them food to sate themselves. He promised them – if they signed – uninterrupted sleep! And, having signed, there was nothing in the world that could move them to risk again such nights and such days.
It’s always refreshing to hear candidates for public office admit that the US should not even bother to improve upon the record of the old Soviet Union.
Rudy Giuliani — Putting the ‘G’ in KGB.