The Instigator
left_wing_mormon
Pro (for)
Losing
27 Points
The Contender
PublicForumG-d
Con (against)
Winning
51 Points

Water Boarding is indeed torture.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/19/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,270 times Debate No: 3712
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (25)

 

left_wing_mormon

Pro

I will assume that my opponet has not been water-boarded by the U.S. Military. I can say honestly that I have never been water-boarded. With that being said my opponet and I cannot use personal accounts on this issue.

To determine if Water-Boarding is torture, I present two things to ponder.

1: The history of Water-boarding
During World War II, Japanese troops, especially the Kempeitai, as well as the Gestapo, the German secret police, used waterboarding as a method of torture. During the Japanese occupation of Singapore the Double Tenth Incident occurred, which included waterboarding consisting of binding or holding down the victim on his back, placing a cloth over his mouth and nose, and pouring water onto the cloth. In this version, interrogation continued during the torture, with the interrogators beating the victim if he did not reply and the victim swallowing water if he opened his mouth to answer or breathe. When the victim could ingest no more water, the interrogators would beat or jump on his distended stomach. (Wikipedia)

Early in history the name water-boarding didn't exist. In fact it had a vareity of names. During the Spanish-American War it was called "Chinese Water Torture".

2: A Personal Account
I cannot say that Water-Boarding from my own personal account (I have not gone through this procedure). But I can use the words of someone else who in fact was water-boarded.

I turn to Henri Alleg, a journalist. In 1957 he was captured by French forces and tortured. In his book he describes the water-boarding experiance:
"The rag was soaked rapidly. Water flowed everywhere: in my mouth, in my nose, all over my face. But for a while I could still breathe in some small gulps of air. I tried, by contracting my throat, to take in as little water as possible and to resist suffocation by keeping air in my lungs for as long as I could. But I couldn't hold on for more than a few moments. I had the impression of drowning, and a terrible agony, that of death itself, took possession of me. In spite of myself, all the muscles of my body struggled uselessly to save me from suffocation. In spite of myself, the fingers of both my hands shook uncontrollably."

Then we look at a more recent case from a man named Daniel Levin. This man who was the acting assitant attorney General, decided the only way to judge whether or not the meathod of water-boarding was in fact torture he went to have it done upon himself. Since 2004 when he had himself water-boarded he has spoken out against the technique calling it "Torture". I trust his word over anyone on this site. And so it stands. Levin said it. Alleg said it. And now, here on debate.org, I speak for these men. Water Boarding is Torture.
PublicForumG-d

Con

Thank you to my opponent for making this debate.

As for his points:

1) A history of waterboarding is irrelavent to this debate.
2) Waterboarding was never known as Chinese Water Torture (CWT), which is an entirely different proceedure.

CWT was a psychological stressor that combined repeated action of a waterdrop being dropped on the subject while being tied down. The water emphasized the feeling of bondage, which compelled the subject to speak.

Waterboarding is entirely different. It simulates the feeling of drowning within the subject.

TO better explain, I'm going to define torture: "the infliction of severe pain".

From RWN:
http://www.rightwingnews.com...

According to a high ranking naval official:

"Waterboarding is hardly torture. It does not maim, cause permanent physical damage,or result in death. It merely simulates the sensation of drowning and having no control over your ability to end the encounter for very brief periods of time. Khalid Sheik Mohammed was subjected to this interrogation technique and was able to resist much longer than would have been expected from an individual who had not been trained to resist waterboarding"

A non-trained individual easily resisted waterboarding.

I now direct you to Newsmax:
http://www.newsmax.com...

"Furthermore, waterboarding should not be considered torture, as some are claiming. Torture is normally defined as the infliction of severe pain, and while waterboarding induces fear because it simulates drowning, it does not inflict pain.

In fact, U.S. special forces are subjected to waterboarding as part of their training in case they are captured and experience the procedure.

Waterboarding was used only when the CIA believed a second wave of terrorist attacks was imminent. But once the media began disclosing that the CIA was using the technique, it became useless, because if terrorists know they will be subjected to fake "drowning," they will not respond to it. "

While I am not detracting from the testimony of the waterboarded that my opponent gave, the truth is that they were merely just frightened. Yes it was uncomfortable, but so are many things in life.

Ironically, waterboarding is so inneffective at causing harm that many terrorists (as per my article) ignore it entirely. We even subject our OWN soldiers to it.

I'll admit that while it may be mean, uncomfortable, or morally wrong, Waterboarding in and of itself cannot be considered torture because it does not inflict severe pain upon those that it is done upon - from terrorists to our own soldiers.
Debate Round No. 1
left_wing_mormon

Pro

Thank you for accepting this debate.

Tortrue:anguish of body or mind : agony b: something that causes agony or pain(http://www.merriam-webster.com...)

Chinese Water Torture. This was the first step in what we now call water boarding. Slowly a new cloth was placed over the nose and mouth with the addition of some water until eventually the suspect felt as if they were drowning. Both CWT and waterboarding have the same goal: They both simulate drowning.

See I belief that torture does not have to be physical, but I want to make it clear that waterboarding is physical torture as well as menatal. I just want to say that things like flushing a koran down a toliet is torture to the captives at Gitmo as well.

Following World War II war crime trials were convened. The Japanese were tried and convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding. The international community to this day stands against waterboarding.

I'm not going to put up a "He said-She said" argument here. The accounts I gave are just as valid as my opponets and I respect his sources. But the words of those water-boarded are very strong. To quote Henri Alleg one more time: "I felt I was drowning and I was in terrible agony"

The reason why our troops go through this is because it is part of a "Torture Resistance" training to help troops resist TORTURE. Why is waterboarding part of this if it is not torture?

This isn't about comfort. Are you comparing waterboarding to writers cramp? The world over agrees this is torture, and history is relevant to this discussion because for the Inquistion is Spain, To the Gestapo in WW2 it is deemed torture. Why should we call this just another interrogation technique? When one drowns, we call it death. When one goes through a process where they feel that they are drowning, that they are going to die, we call it agony.
PublicForumG-d

Con

Chinese Water Torture: Why are we debating this? It's totally irrelavent, and honestly, you're misinformed. The fact that they both have to do with 'water' is not a connection.

"Chinese water torture is the popular name for a method of water torture in which water is slowly dripped onto a person's forehead, driving the victim insane. This form of torture was first described under a different name by Hippolytus de Marsiliis in Italy in the 16th century.

This has NOTHING TO DO AT ALL WITH WATERBOARDING.

Now, to move on to the actual debate:

Waterboarding is not torture because it does not cause any physical pain, or any long lasting damage. In fact, its almost a joke with terrorists, who just sit through it. The purpose of waterboarding is an empty threat - to scare the victim. Thats why we don't use it anymore - know that its commmon knowlege that noone is actually being drowned, the terrorists just laugh it off! Its inneffective! It causes no harm to them at all, and scares them a bit, and even that is not enough to do anything! That's why we've stopped using it.

I admit that it may be uncomfortable, and even unpleasant or scary, but if we are to constitute torture as "uncomfortable or unpleasant" then nearly everything (including parents spanking children, falling off a bike) can be considered torture. If anything scary was torture, then Halloween means we're the US is a torture fest.

I ask my opponent two things;

Is there ANY evidence at all (you've provided none) that Waterboarding leaves a permanant, harmful, crippling impression on the people it is done to?

When you realize that is no, I move on to my second question:

If Waterboarding was really a terrible torture that left long lasting permannt impressions on the victim, then why do we do it to our own soldiers?

The answer is again that Waterboarding is an empty threat - it scares the people without doing any actual damage at all. And once the soldiers know this, they can merely ignore the Waterboarding

Waterboarding is many things: Unpleasant. Frightening. Uncomfortable. But most of all? An empty threat. I know that the common sentiment is to want to vote Pro on this, but use common sense; can something that has almost become a joke in the intelligence community, something that WE SUBJECT OUR OWN SOLDIERS to, be considered torture?

The answer is a clear and resounding no. Please vote Neg.
Debate Round No. 2
left_wing_mormon

Pro

I understand why you feel waterboarding is not torture, but understand the deffinition I gave in the previous round for torture fits the resoulution. I will post this deffinition again: Tortrue:anguish of body or mind : agony b: something that causes agony or pain(http://www.merriam-webster.com......)

Final Statements:

Now What is the point of water boarding? The Sole purpose is to simulate drowning to a person tied and bound to a table. Water is forced into lungs this is not equvilant to a parent spanking a child, this is drowning.

I refer back to the incident of Daniel Levin. He wrote that even though he knew those doing it meant him no harm, and he knew they would rescue him at the instant of the slightest distress, and he knew he would not die — still, with all that reassurance, he could not stop the terror screaming from inside of him, could not quell the horror, could not convince that which is at the core of each of us, the entity who exists behind all the embellishments we strap to ourselves, like purpose and name and family and love, he could not convince his being that he wasn't drowning. This is not only physical but this is clearly a mental torture.

The reason why waterboarding is not used anymore as a torture meathod in the U.S. is because the Congress of the United States felt that it was torture. It was outlawed, not because it was "usless", but rather it was determined to be torture.

I will answer my opponets questions:
1.Is there ANY evidence at all (you've provided none) that Waterboarding leaves a permanant, harmful, crippling impression on the people it is done to?

But whether it's termed torture or an enhanced interrogation technique, as it is sometimes referred to by the CIA, the mechanics of waterboarding cause severe physical stress on the body and deep psychological wounds that can last a lifetime, according to healthcare experts interviewed by Nursing Spectrum and NurseWeek.
"That goes without saying," says Michael Grodin, MD, codirector of the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights in Boston. Grodin has treated Iraqi and Kurdish citizens who were subjected to waterboarding in the Middle East. The practice is an "enormously traumatic experience," he says. "Everyone who knows anything about medicine would agree." (http://include.nurse.com...)

According to the recently published book Torture and Democracy, by Darius Rejali, an expert on modern torture and a professor of political science at Reed College in Oregon, "Even a small amount of water in the glottis causes violent coughing, initiating a fight-or-flight response, raising the heart rate and respiratory rate, and triggering desperate efforts to break free. The supply of oxygen available for basic metabolic functions is exhausted within seconds."

Does this answer your first question?
2.If Waterboarding was really a terrible torture that left long lasting permannt impressions on the victim, then why do we do it to our own soldiers?
Because the U.S. Military does not use this torture meathod anymore, it doesn't have to be used on them anymore either. It's not part of the training. If cops stopped using pepper spray than they wouldn't have to use it on themselves in training.

In Conclusion the international community calls waterboarding torture. Recently Congress deemed this torture. The persons who have had it done to themselves whther it be reporters or government employees, they have called this torture too.

By voting Pro, you are not voting for left_wing_momrmon, you are voting in agreement that the use of waterboarding, a technique used to simulate drowning, is a form of torture. I strongly suggest you read the article I presented earlier where experts dicuss this isuue before making your vote: http://include.nurse.com...

Thank you.
PublicForumG-d

Con

I'd like to thank my opponent for making this debate.

I'm going to address the main issues of this debate, and why I believe that they indicate a Con vote.

"THE SOLE PURPOSE IS TO SIMULATE DROWNING TO A PERSON TIED AND BOUND TO A TABLE"

I agree completely. The sole purpose is to SIMULATE drowning. There is no alterior motive - it is merely a scare tactic in which they try to freak you out. It does NOT leave any permanent or long lasting damage on a person.

Now lets look to my opponents claims.

"INITIATING A FIGHT-OR-FLIGHT RESPONSE, RAISING THE HEART RATE AND RESPIRATORY RATE"

This sounds bad, but in reality, is similar to the reaction to a cup of coffee: caffeine raises heart and respiratory rate, and can cause irritability (which is connected to Fight or Flight). This still coincides with my main point that to reasonably constitute torture, there must be some damage done or severe pain (not discomfort) inflicted.

My opponent has yet to prove this.

"BECAUSE THE U.S. MILITARY DOES NOT USE THIS TORTURE MEATHOD ANYMORE, IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE USED ON THEM ANYMORE EITHER"

http://blogcritics.org...

Actually, you're factually mistaken - we still do do this practice. Why? Its not torture. We do it to our soldiers. If this were a terrible torture and did long lasting damage to people, what does that say about our troops? Are they all in the fetal position while fighting?

Its almost satirical to imply that there is ANY damage from waterboarding, because its being done to our own soldiers! By US!! Its an insult to our troops to think that Waterboarding is torture.

Lets look at a summary of the facts:

1) Waterboarding is used on our own soldiers:

Lets put what my opponent claims waterboarding is in perspective. To constitute torture, my opponent says that it MUST leave a long lasting psychological and physical impact, and inflict severe pain.

Now, if you're the US government, and you know that this war is not very popular, and you risk desertion as it is, I ask you: Why OH Why would you piss your soldiers off? Even worse, why would you emotionally and physically cripple them?

To agree with my opponent is to say that every single person defending our country in Iraq is emotionally and physically crippled, and that (despite high likelihood of desertion) they're putting them under an even HIGHER risk of desertion.

Judges, I don't think this makes any sense at all. It is for this reason that you should vote Con.

2) Waterboarding couldn't be used any more when terrorists realized there was no more danger.

This is the funny - and I mean funnny - thing. The people who we're supposed to be using waterboarding on actually laugh the treatment off. When they realized that they were in NO REAL DANGER (which my opponent and I agree on, see his opening statement quoted in this speech) they began sitting through the process and letting it just happen. This is why the US government stopped using it in 2003 after it got media coverage and they explained that the proceedure was *harmless*. My opponent provides no alternative explanation for why we miraculously stopped using it, *coincidentally* at the exact same time that the media began covering it. Pretty unusual, if you're my opponent....fits perfectly, for the Con.

Judges, to conclude, waterboarding is by no stretch of the mind torture. I've already admitted that its uncomfortable, probably scary, and I bet its an experience that doesn't leave you quickly.

But the answer remains simply: Waterboarding is NOT torture. We do it to our soldiers. We CANT do it anymore to terrorists.

These conclusions provide a pretty sticky situation for the Pro to get out of. The reason is because there IS NO reasonable explanation for why all of these things would coincidentally fall into place all at the same time.

For these reasons, please vote Con.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by magpie 9 years ago
magpie
Of course, civilized people would never resort to gratuitous torture - just for the fun of it, but people who say that they abhor water boarding (or any other means of extracting critical information) are IMHO thinking abstractly. Make the issue more subjective, and all but the extreme will consent to the use of WB and even more painful forms of torture.
MY Challenge: Imagine that some of your favorite and most innocent friends and relatives have been taken by a group of terrorists. You know some of these thugs. You saw them take the captives. As you are trying to find them, one of the thugs, whom you know and saw taking the captives is seen by you. You take hold of this thug and try to use reason with him to disclose the location of the captives. He spits in your face, tells you that the women and children are being raped and the men are being shot one each day. He laughs at the notion of telling you where they are. There is no way to get him back to civilization, because he will not move.
Your choices:
1. You let him go. "Oh well, what could I do. My friends will understand"
2. You kill him. "After all that's more humane than torture."
3. You torture him, using every technique available to you. "It's his choice! If withholding the info, so as to allow the mistreatment of your friends to continue, is worth it to him, them he has chosen his fate."
Tell me that you would not resort to torture, and I will be glad that I'm not one of those pathetic captives who are depending on you. Maybe you're self deceptive; or maybe you're just a liar.
Posted by PublicForumG-d 9 years ago
PublicForumG-d
I say we keep the debate out of the comments :)

If you want a rechallenge, we cam do it, but it seemed like people agree with us equally.

ok?
Posted by left_wing_mormon 9 years ago
left_wing_mormon
The only reason I brought this to the comment section is because some of your claims need to be answered, and I must defend myself.

You said: It does NOT leave any permanent or long lasting damage on a person.

But I gave evidence to say otherwise and you choose to ignore it. Here is some moree from the article I posted, but my opponet refused to respond to: Rejali says although waterboarding only simulates the sense of drowning, the victim will in fact die if the procedure is not stopped in time. Additional respiratory tissue damage occurs when water enters the lungs, a condition that can lead to infection as well as pulmonary edema. The binding of limbs to keep victims restrained can cause deep vein thrombosis, Raymond says. Victims can injure their chests, arms, and legs if they struggle against the straps. The ingestion of large amounts of water into the intestines causes the organs to stretch and convulse causing severe pain, says Rejali.

To look back at my opponets words: This still coincides with my main point that to reasonably constitute torture, there must be some damage done or severe pain (not discomfort) inflicted.
Posted by PublicForumG-d 9 years ago
PublicForumG-d
haha, did you really just try to attack my argument in the comment section?

To point out: The article presented multiple points of view - and never refuted the first half in which it presented waterboarding as non-torture.

Either way good debate.

Oh and Bodhi, I explained why my definition was superior. If you're just going to rate a def as better because its got a source...whatever. Of course, Wikipedia is a source and I could edit to say "Torture is defined as Left Wing winning the debate" lets prevent torture and vote for me. But I digress.

My proof of necessary long lasting physical harm was in my second speech.

==============================
I admit that it may be uncomfortable, and even unpleasant or scary, but if we are to constitute torture as "uncomfortable or unpleasant" then nearly everything (including parents spanking children, falling off a bike) can be considered torture. If anything scary was torture, then Halloween means we're the US is a torture fest.
==============================

Additionally, I addressed my opponents testimony arguments throughout, actually agreeing that it was uncomfortable but saying that that does not mean TORTURE.
Posted by left_wing_mormon 9 years ago
left_wing_mormon
I'm sorry, I know that the debate is over and everything but if I may make a point on my opponets source: http://blogcritics.org...

I quote the article that my opponet presented: "Waterboarding was a method of torture used in the Spanish Inquisitions in which a person is strapped down, his face is covered with cloth, and water is poured over the victim, simulating a feeling of drowning. In many countries this method of interrogation has been considered a war crime for over a century."

Interesting...The article my opponet uses calls this torture. Seems my opponet only liked the first paragraph.
Posted by BodhiDharma 9 years ago
BodhiDharma
I'm going to have to side with left-wing on this.

PublidForum supplied an arbitrary definition to torture as implying permanent damage inflicted(I assume its arbitrariness on the basis of a lack of citation) whereas left-wing provided a viable definition of torture that maintained agony as a a criterion.

Public ignored this definition and went on to persist that there were no permanent damages to the victim that would supposedly warrant torture, then ignoring the testimony of a victim who was subjected to water torture describing it as "agony" which fulfills left-wings definition of torture.

Pretty good debate from what I've seen so far on this site. Good job and good luck to the both of you.
Posted by left_wing_mormon 9 years ago
left_wing_mormon
Thank you PublicForumG-d for a great debate. You helped this debate keep a decent pace.
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