Can Waterboarding Ever Be Justified?Posted: November 12, 2010
For those who don’t know, waterboarding is the act of pouring water continuously over somebody’s face, almost (but not completely) drowning them.
Bush was advised that such a practice is not torture (to which I reply ‘what is it then?!’). Although the former President claimed that waterboarding saved British lives, Downing Street has denied it.
Let’s imagine I capture Osama Bin Laden and he tells me he has placed a bomb under The Houses of Parliament which is set to go off in 3 minutes. Only he knows the code to stop it. There’s not enough time to evacuate everyone but we find the bomb and sure enough it needs a code. Do I a) initiate waterboarding until he tells me the code or b) ask him politely?
It’s certainly not inconceivable that many (or even most) Americans agree with Bush’s policy on this issue (although Mr “Nice Guy” Obama would never sanction such a thing!).
On one hand it makes perfect sense, on the other it’s seriously dodgy ground to say the least.
In my completely ridiculous above example I would actually agree with Bush. You have a mad man who has admitted he is about to kill thousands of people and you have found the evidence to back it up. If the only option is waterboarding- (something which although nasty, will not kill you) then surely it is worth it?
Where the lines blur on this issue is when it comes to identity. What if I think the man in front of me is a terrorist, and I think he’s got a bomb planted somewhere and I think he knows how to stop it. THAT is where waterboarding could never be justified. It’s also one of the reason I’m very cautious about supporting the death penalty- because it can be very difficult to prove for certain that someone is a murderer.
Bush’s comments are interesting because it demonstrates that being in charge of anything (especially a country) is never an easy job. Whether your leading a business, a church, or a country (or anything else for that matter) you will be faced with tough decisions, and no matter which option you choose there will always be plenty of people who disagree with you.
I’ll leave you with the words of Bush’s old slave friend, Tony Blair…”I think if you have faith about these things, then you realise that that judgement is made by other people… and if you believe in God, it’s made by God as well.”
So, over to you… Waterboarding- can it ever be justified?