What does he think about torture? (Bolds are mine.)
“Now, on the question of torture. We should not torture. America should not stand for torture, America should not allow torture. But America should engage in aggressive questioning of Islamic terrorists who are arrested or who are apprehended. Because if we don’t we leave ourselves open to significant attack.”
“And the line between the two is very delicate and very difficult. But we can’t abandon aggressive questioning of people who are intent on coming here to kill us. Or killing us overseas. I think that that’s the point that the attorney general designate was trying to make.”
“And the powers of the president are pretty significant in protecting the national security of the United States. They always have been. So I think what he was also trying to do was protect the powers of the United States to deal with unforeseen circumstances like the hypothetical we were asked during one debate – I’ve forgotten which one: If there was a terrorist attack on an American city, and it was clear that there were all going to be additional attacks, some of them were going to be nuclear, and they were planned for the next couple of days and one of the people involved in it was arrested, and the head of the C.I.A. came to you and said we have to do certain things to get the information from him, would you authorize it? And I think most of us answered it, yes we would, we would authorize doing whatever we thought was the most effective to get that information.”
“The president has to have that kind of leeway. We’ve got to trust our president well enough to allow that. If we surround this so much with procedure, we’re going to have some unforeseen circumstance in which a president’s not going to feel comfortable making the right decision, particularly if you have the wrong person there. “
“So I think America should never be for torture. America should be against torture. It violates the Geneva Convention. Certainly when we’re dealing with armed combatants, we shouldn’t get near anything like that. There is a distinction, sometimes, when you’re dealing with terrorists. You may have to use means that are a little tougher.”
Like waterboarding? "It depends on how it’s done. It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it."
If we do it, in other words, it's okay. Christopher Orr says, At least he's honest:
What the United States is doing isn't torture because it's the United States doing it. I suspect this is the way a lot of torture apologists feel, but give Giuliani credit for being (I think) the first to come out and say it.
But how honest is he being, really? As Jeralyn points out, he is still playing word games:
On the line between aggressive questioning and torture:And, sure we should be against torture. But we should not be against aggressive questioning. And the line between the two is going to require some really difficult decisions about drawing it and kind of trusting each other with the discretion for the president to make decisions about what has to be done in the interests of the American people.
Taking the opposite and more accurate view on waterboarding is law professor Jonathan Turley in yesterday's Los Angeles Times, writing about the inadequate response of Michael Mukasey at his confirmation hearing:At first, he repeatedly stated that he does not support torture, which violates the U.S. Constitution. This is precisely the answer given so often by President Bush like a mantra. The problem is that Bush defines torture to exclude things like water-boarding.
It is like saying you do not rob banks, but then defining bank robbery in such a way that it does not include walking in with a gun and demanding money from the cashier.
And having defined torture to exclude practices like waterboarding and sleep deprivation, Bush and Mukasey and Giuliani define down those practices even further with flawed analogies to their own lives. Here is Giuliani on sleep deprivation:
"But they [the Democrats and the 'liberal media'] talk about sleep deprivation. I mean, on that theory, I’m getting tortured running for president of the United States. That’s plain silly. That’s silly."
Torture survivors who have been subjected to sleep deprivation would disagree:
Sleep deprivation is not like torture - it is a form of torture, a tactic favoured by the KGB and the Japanese in PoW camps in World War Two.
The British Army was also accused of using sleep deprivation to extract information from suspected IRA members in 1971.
"It is such a standard form of torture that basically everybody has used it at one time or another," says Andrew Hogg, of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.
Going without sleep is intensely stressful, with unpredictable short and long-term effects. People lose the ability to act and think coherently. And as it leaves no physical mark on the victim, the interrogator can claim that they never laid a finger on those in their charge.
John Schlapobersky, consultant psychotherapist to the Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture, was himself tortured through sleep deprivation, in his case in apartheid South Africa in the 1960s.
"I was kept without sleep for a week in all. I can remember the details of the experience, although it took place 35 years ago. After two nights without sleep, the hallucinations start, and after three nights, people are having dreams while fairly awake, which is a form of psychosis.
"By the week's end, people lose their orientation in place and time - the people you're speaking to become people from your past; a window might become a view of the sea seen in your younger days. To deprive someone of sleep is to tamper with their equilibrium and their sanity."
Here is Menachem Begin, describing how sleep deprivation felt when the KGB used it to torture him (from the same BBC article, quoted by Anonymous Liberal):
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.
If the use of sleep deprivation as torture is no more stressful than life on the campaign trail, then "this is what it's like on the campaign trail":
Mr. Bashmilah was subjected to severe sleep deprivation and shackling in painful positions. Excruciatingly loud music was played twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. Guards deprived him of sleep, routinely waking him every half hour. Initially, the cell was pitch black, his hands were cuffed together, and his legs were shackled together, severely restricting his movement and causing him pain. Later, he was chained to a wall and the light in his cell was left on at all times, except for brief moments when the guards came to his cell ... Mr. Bashmilah's psychological torment was such that he used a piece of metal to slash his wrists in an attempt to bleed to death. He used his own blood to write "I am innocent" and "this is unjust" on the walls of his cell.
The paragraph Jeralyn quoted, above, is my personal favorite, though [my emphasis]:
And, sure we should be against torture. But we should not be against aggressive questioning. And the line between the two is going to require some really difficult decisions about drawing it and kind of trusting each other with the discretion for the president to make decisions about what has to be done in the interests of the American people."
That rumbling sound you hear is Thomas Jefferson rolling in his grave.