Patterico's Pontifications


I’m Still Missing Answers from Some of You on the Waterboarding Question

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:58 am

Over the weekend, I asked a question about the morality of waterboarding. It was directed primarily at the self-righteous chest-pounders who like to pretend that the moral issues are easy and obvious — that of course we should never consider waterboarding under any circumstances, no matter how dire. The question was:

Let’s assume the following hypothetical facts are true. U.S. officials have KSM in custody. They know he planned 9/11 and therefore have a solid basis to believe he has other deadly plots in the works. They try various noncoercive techniques to learn the details of those plots. Nothing works.

They then waterboard him for two and one half minutes.

During this session KSM feels panicky and unable to breathe. Even though he can breathe, he has the sensation that he is drowning. So he gives up information — reliable information — that stops a plot involving people flying planes into buildings.

My simple question is this: based on these hypothetical facts, was the waterboarding session worth it?

Further assume that no less coercive tactic would reveal the information.

I am driving at a moral question here. What I really want to know is: do you consider the waterboarding session to have been the most moral choice under the circumstances?

Self-righteous chest-pounders like nosh, Oregonian, and Semanticleo all checked in at this blog since I put up the post. But none of them answered the question.

It wasn’t easy to get people to answer the question. The thread is over 470 comments, and it consists mostly of obfuscation and evasions. But I have gotten answers from many commenters.

I have follow-up questions for the people who answered the question. But before I get too far into the follow-ups, I want to make sure I have all the liberals here on record answering the question. Especially the self-righteous ones like those named above.

To answer the question or leave a comment, go here.

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