The NYT had a hysterical editorial calling out the GOP candidates for claiming that waterboarding is not torture.
As hard as it is to believe, the Republican candidates for president seem to have learned very little from the moral calamities of the administration of George W. Bush. Three of the contenders for the party’s nomination have now come out in favor of the torture known as waterboarding. Only two have said it is illegal, and the rest don’t seem to have the backbone to even voice an opinion on the subject.
At Saturday night’s debate in South Carolina, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann said they would approve waterboarding of prisoners to extract information. They denied, of course, that waterboarding is torture, even though it’s been classified as such since the Spanish Inquisition. “Very disappointed by statements at S.C. GOP debate supporting waterboarding,” Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, wrote on Twitter. “Waterboarding is torture.”
As empty as Mr. Romney’s remarks were about Iran, his refusal to renounce waterboarding is disturbing. There are few issues that more clearly define a candidate’s national security policy in the 21st century than a position on torture. A few candidates will fight terrorism using the rule of law, honoring the nation’s moral standards to encourage other countries to do the same. Others will defend the United States by promising to extract information from captives using pain and simulating death, degrading the nation’s reputation. That group now includes Mr. Cain, Mrs. Bachmann and Mr. Romney. [my emphasis]
Oh, I agree with the sentiment. On this issue (aside from Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul) the GOPers are a bunch of immoral thugs.
But I’m rather amused that the editorial page of the NYT–the NYT!!!–is attacking others for refusing to call waterboarding torture.
As Glenn Greenwald noted, here’s what two of the then-editors have had to say about whether waterboarding is torture or not.
[D]efenders of the practice of water-boarding, including senior officials of the Bush administration, insisted that it did not constitute torture.
I have resisted using torture without qualification or to describe all the techniques. Exactly what constitutes torture continues to be a matter of debate and hasn’t been resolved by a court. This president and this attorney general say waterboarding is torture, but the previous president and attorney general said it is not. On what basis should a newspaper render its own verdict, short of charges being filed or a legal judgment rendered?
And here’s what the NYT’s spokesperson said in response to a study showing that they had changed their language on waterboarding once the US embraced using it.
“As the debate over interrogation of terror suspects grew post-9/11, defenders of the practice (including senior officials of the Bush administration) insisted that it did not constitute torture,” a Times spokesman said in a statement. Read more