The Instigator
aircraftmechgirl
Pro (for)
Tied
14 Points
The Contender
PARADIGM_L0ST
Con (against)
Tied
14 Points

Waterboarding is An Acceptable Means of Intelligence Gathering

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/12/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,029 times Debate No: 17490
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (8)

 

aircraftmechgirl

Pro

I would like to propose a debate on the idea that the practice of waterboarding, while distasteful, is an acceptable and sometimes necessary practice during interrogations. I will be arguing in favor of its use.

First round is for acceptance. Thank you.
PARADIGM_L0ST

Con

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my opponent for initiating this debate. I have taken an extended hiatus from serious debate for some time now, primarily due to scheduling constraints, but also due to the lack of quality debate. Despite this, I see a lot of potential in this debate and with my opponent, and have opted to take it. I will make a concerted effort to post my argument on time.

I'd like to focus the bulk of my argument on two main ideas that refute the need of waterboardng. They are as follows.

1. Effectiveness: How effective is waterboarding as interrogative tool? Does it actually extract useful information most of the time, or is it prone to disinformation (saying anything, even a lie, to make the terror go away)?

2. Ethical argument: Even supposing waterboarding is effective, does it lead its practitioners down a slippery slope of increasing the scope of torture, and if so, what are the potential ramifications of its usage on the conscience of a nation that says it believes in one thing, yet practices another?

Since PRO initiated the debate, PRO thusly has the burden of proof. My role in the debate is to simply establish reasonable doubt. I will therefore turn over to PRO for opening arguments.
Debate Round No. 1
aircraftmechgirl

Pro

Thank you to my opponent for his gracious acceptance.

A1. Waterboarding is not torture.

The word "torture" is defined as: "the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information,
or for sheer cruelty."

"Torture involves extreme, brutal pain — breaking bones, passing out from pain, beatings so severe that blood spatters the walls ...[popping] shoulders out of joints..." Col. Leo Thorsness was subjected to this during the Vietnam War by his NVA captors.

Adm. Jeremiah Denton winked the word "t-o-r-t-u-r-e" in Morse code during a propaganda interview while being held by the North Vietnamese. He was subjected to "excruciating pain" for this. Denton says now that "Waterboarding is not an evil. Some of the things [the NVA] did to us were torture. I passed out a dozen times from torture. We’re not exerting that kind of excruciation.”

A document found in an al Qaeda safe house in 2007 depicted diagrams of common torture methods used by terrorists. Some of the methods included limb severing, eye removal, using a clothes iron against the skin, being hung and electrocuted, or putting a subject’s head in a vise. At the time this safe house was raided, coalition forces found a man hanging from the ceiling. He was being kept alive and tortured daily.

What is waterboarding?
"The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt." It’s important to note that at no time is the subject actually drowning.

Waterboarding is different than torture.

a. Waterboarding causes no injuries or lasting physical effects.
c. It causes no "excruciating pain." In fact, it causes none.
d. Torture works to systematically destroy the body over time. Waterboarding lasts 90 seconds or less; in most cases about 20. The object is not pain; it is fear and psychological uncertainty.

Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down, explains that “in most cases, what works is fear, fear of imprisonment, fear of discomfort, fear of pain...” Waterboarding works on “fear of pain,” not pain itself. As Bowden states, “Fear works better than pain.”

Rivkin and Casey explain that “[Advanced] interrogation methods have been adapted from the U.S. military's own Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (or SERE) training program, and have been used for years on thousands of American service members with the full knowledge of Congress.”

A2. It is effective.
Critics of waterboarding claim that terrorists lie to end the torture. However, it has been widely reported that the three waterboarded terrorists have offered up a plethora of information leading to high-profile targets and thwarted plots.

Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind, “possessed a wide-ranging knowledge of the network’s plans, logistics and personnel,” writes Vasko Kohlmayer. “Unwilling to share it voluntarily, he was subjected to forced interrogation…he held out until the interrogators decided to proceed with waterboarding.” KSM, as he is known, lasted the longest. Accounts vary, but the average time given is 2 minutes, well under the limit of time a human being can be deprived of oxygen with no lasting effects. [Note: KSM was waterboarded many more times, and never lasted past 20 seconds after that without giving large amounts of reliable information, further proving the tactic’s effectiveness.] His information ultimately led to the death of Osama bin Laden, as well as the thwarting of many terrorist plots—including a plan to crash another jetliner, this time in Los Angeles.

Other methods of advanced interrogation are also effective but as former CIA interrogator John Kiriakou states in the case of Abu Zubaydah, "Those tricks of the trade require a great deal of time … we didn't have that luxury.”

A3. Waterboarding has saved lives.
This is proven in A2 and A5.

A4. Congress was not only aware of its use all along, but actually questioned whether waterboarding was aggressive enough.
In 2002, four members of Congress—including Rep. Nancy Pelosi—were given a “virtual tour” of the CIA program that included advanced techniques. They were briefed on the methods used, their effectiveness, and exactly how those methods were performed.


At that time, not only were no objectives raised, but “two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder.” One official present stated that “The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough.” All told, from 2002 to 2003, almost 30 more briefings were given to members of Congress on both sides. Porter J. Goss, one of those present, states that “there was a pretty full understanding of what the CIA was doing…and the reaction in the room was not just approval, but encouragement.” The attitude, as another official put it, was “We don't care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.”

A5. Waterboarding does not lead to a “slippery slope” of torture.
Claiming that waterboarding, which is not torture as evidenced in A1, will definitively lead to torture is like saying marijuana (highly contested as to its “drug” status) will definitively lead to heroin addiction. Since my opponent is for drug legalization, I highly doubt he would condone such a statement.


The morality issue is moot as well. Morality can be argued to be a subjective term, based on religion, political affiliation, and upbringing. Obviously the terrorists’ idea of morality does not rule out terrorism. However, the “Western” idea of morality, while eschewing actual “torture” methods, holds innocent life and its protection to be above that of protecting criminals and terrorists.

Several victims of actual torture have spoken out in favor of waterboarding. In addition to Thorsness and Denton, Col. Bud Day has also lent his support to the practice. He is a former POW who received the Medal of Honor for escaping from an NVA POW camp. When he was caught, his arm was broken in three places and he had been shot twice. "I am a supporter of waterboarding,” he says. “It is not torture. Torture is really hurting someone. Waterboarding is just scaring someone, with no long-term injurious effects. It is a scare tactic that works."

Those who would criticize waterboarding at any time would do well to consider the idea that even KSM’s 83 instances of waterboarding, at an average of 20 seconds each (save the initial 90 second event), constitute 29.16 minutes when the 90 seconds is added on. That is one half hour of extreme emotional and mental distress, visited upon an evil man who sought the destruction of innocent American lives en masse, and literally spent years planning and carrying out just such an event. Even if those 30 minutes led to one innocent American citizen from dying due to a terrorist act, it renders the practice distasteful, but acceptable. The fact that his half hour of discomfort led to the protection of potentially thousands of lives saved makes the practice of waterboarding a necessary “tool in the box” of interrogators who are working to protect American lives from acts of terrorism.

I thank my opponent again for this opportunity and thank readers for their time.

Vote Pro!

http://news.bostonherald.com...
http://fdd.typepad.com...
http://archive.frontpagemag.com...
http://www.thesmokinggun.com...
http://abcnews.go.com...
http://blogs.abcnews.com...
http://www.washingtonpost.com...
http://www.globalsecurity.org...
http://online.wsj.com...


PARADIGM_L0ST

Con

=== REBUTTALS ===

PRO begins her argument by attempting to define torture only as physical pain, but different sources define it as,

1. to cause extreme physical pain to, esp in order to extract information, break resistance, etc: to torture prisoners
2. to give mental anguish to
3. to twist into a grotesque form

— n
4. physical or mental anguish
5. the practice of torturing a person
6. a cause of mental agony or worry[1]

She also uses the testimony of Col. Thorsness, a Medal of Honor recipient and POW in the Vietnam War. As we all know, John McCain, also a prisoner of war by the NVA, has been a vocal critic of the practice of waterboarding, stating that it's "indisputably torture."

It's advocates say things like, "It doesn't hurt you, it just scares you and leaves you with no lasting damage." In essence, they're saying that as long as you don't have any lasting, physical trauma, mental anguish or trauma could not be considered tortuous. I find that very ironic considering the sheer amount of PTSD cases treated by the Dept. of Veteran's Affairs and private practices all over the country, or the amount of servicemen who have taken their lives because of the things they've seen and/or have done.

Consider also Chinese Water Torture. All that CWT entails is strapping someone down so that a SINGLE drop of water hits the same spot every 5-30 seconds. The idea is that it drives the victim mad, which is why they used it. No lasting physical damage, and yet it is clearly defined and, more importantly, DESIGNED as torture. It's design is to instill prolonged mental anguish. Now, if we were to go by PRO's definition, no one was actually physically harmed, therefore it couldn't possibly be torture. Makes me wonder how PRO would answer after having been strapped down against her will and either employing waterboarding or Chinese Water Torture.[2]

More to the point, rape and molestation could quite easily be considered by PRO's own definition to not fall under the purview of torture. Yet, somehow, I highly doubt that she would not consider such a violation as a form of torture when it so evidently is.

PRO then uses ADM. Denton, another torture victim, to explain why what the NVA did was worse than torture, which is a non-sequitur. Just because one version of torture may be considered worse torture doesn't invalidate the other side, nor does it justify the use of torture. Anything less is a complete contradiction.

All proponents of waterboarding use Khalid Sheik Mohammed as the granddaddy reason to testify to its effectiveness and the importance of it. The problem is that no one is considering the source. The source is from the intelligence community which is designed to operate in a shadowy underworld where secrecy is preeminent, and one that is trained in disseminating propaganda and disinformation to achieve its own ends. We would have no way of verifying their claims without actually watching the interrogation videos of Mohammed, and quite frankly, the US government would never release that.

Secondly, let us suppose that Mohammed did in fact break from being waterboarded and that he yielded a treasure trove of useful information. Do we have any control to measure how many people give credible information versus how many people either didn't know the information their captors sought, or how many sent the US on wild goose chases to waste funds and resources of the US government?

Thirdly, how would you know the difference between someone who legitimately does not know where Osama bin Laden was versus someone claiming not to know where he is? The methodology would be just continue to waterboard him until he gives up the information. And what if bin Laden wasn't stupid enough to tell anyone about his whereabouts? What then?

At some point in time, when it becomes apparent to the one in custody that they won't stop unless they give some information, what reluctance would they have in fabricating something just to MAKE IT STOP? Just to verify their claims could take days, weeks, months, or years, all the while forcing the US to spend inordinate amounts of money and allocating multiple personnel on a mission that leads, literally, nowhere.

Actual case studies contraindicate PRO's claims:

"Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear." -- U.S. Army Field Manual; 34-52, Chapter 1 [3]

"History has shown us that physical pressures are not effective for compelling an individual to give information or to do something' and are not effective for gaining accurate, actionable intelligence." -- Terrence Russell; SERE instructor [4]

"Torture puts our troops in danger, torture makes our troops less safe, torture creates terrorists. It's used so widely as a propaganda tool now in Afghanistan. All too often, detainees have pamphlets on them, depicting what happened at Guantanamo." -- Jay Bagwell ; Interrogator and Counterintelligence Specialist [5]

[6] This list of dissenters includes people who are both experts in this field and who have actually employed and/or studied the effects of various techniques, to include waterboarding. The overwhelming consensus among them is that it is:

1. A moral travesty
2. Hypocritical
3. Ineffective
4. Creates more animosity than it does mitigate threat levels

And if that doesn't strike a nerve, then consider the Bill of Rights itself, where Cruel and Unusual Punishment is a breach of basic human rights.

=== CONCLUSION ===

Proponents of waterboarding are willing to trim a little fat off of the Constitution in the interest of serving their own goals under the misguided guise of "protecting the nation." It does nothing of the sort. It further endangers America, not only making it more prone to seething hate, but it creates an atmosphere of tolerance to brutalization.

We don't live in the Dark Ages any longer, and these antiquated forms of terror do more to obscure our own sense of humanity than it does anything useful.

"In the eyes of posterity it will inevitably seem that, in safeguarding our freedom, we destroyed it; that the vast clandestine apparatus we built up to probe our enemies' resources and intentions only served in the end to confuse our own purposes; that the practice of deceiving others for the good of the state led infallibly to our deceiving ourselves; and that the vast army of intelligence personnel built up to execute these purposes were soon caught up in the web of their own sick fantasies, with disastrous consequences to them and us." -- Malcolm Muggeridge

=== SOURCES ===

1. http://dictionary.reference.com...
2. http://en.wikipedia.org...
3. http://www.globalsecurity.org...
4. http://documents.nytimes.com...
5. http://www.huffingtonpost.com...
6. http://georgewashington2.blogspot.com...
Debate Round No. 2
aircraftmechgirl

Pro


Thank you to my opponent for his response.

R1. Definitions

He begins by introducing new definitions. While he cites “a cause of mental agony or worry” as a definition of torture, if we take that literally then all of us have experienced torture. That is like saying that because one of the definitions for the word “love” is “sexual passion or desire” that anyone who’s had sex has experienced real love. [1]

R2. Torture Victims Pro and Con

I offered three examples of former POWs who have experienced actual torture, all of whom agree with waterboarding. My opponent offered an identical example of a former POW who is against it. Does his example negate mine, and if so, how? Waterboarding has been used for decades in the training of our own Special Forces with no ill effects and the full support of Congress. For Con to argue the point that it's torture, then he must also admit thus:

a) We have been torturing our own troops for over 60 years with regularity;

b) Congress—including opponents of waterboarding terrorists—has known about and accepted this “torture”;

c) Congress has officially put the welfare and humanity of mass murderers and conspirators above that of our own citizenry.

My opponent brings up PTSD and rape in an effort to claim that these are torture. Con argues that any emotional trauma in someone’s mind makes the causal factor an act of torture. This is fallacious.

Another point that bears mention is the mindset of the three subjects who were waterboarded. They were men who spent the better part of their lives actively planning and reveling in the idea of the deaths of Americans. What’s more, they were actively involved in a group that engages in torture on a routine basis, including sawing the heads off of innocent people on video. Who is more deserving of our protection--our own countrymen, or those trying to kill us?

My opponent also mentions Chinese Water Torture. In Season 3 of Mythbusters, the idea that CWT can cause someone to go insane was proven—but not like he says. Episode notes show that “The required torture equipment (and involuntary movement restrictions) is highly effective even without adding the discomfort of the water drip. The water drip itself... is almost negligible.” [2] Hence, it’s not the water drops that cause the insanity, it’s being restrained. Also, Con insinuates that the drip is on a schedule. In actuality, CWT is most effective when it's NOT on a schedule, as they also found. Since Con’s information on this topic is incorrect, his argument using CWT is null and void.

Con wonders how I would answer if I were waterboarded or given CWT. Perhaps Con should ask those who have been subjected to both—such as every member of the Special Forces, Navy SEALS, Delta Force, and Long Range Recon since World War II, as well as all CIA interrogators and operatives. Waterboarding is not something we pulled out of an Inquisition manual ten years ago. It is a tried and true method that we have been using on our own men for six decades.

R3: Justification

Here, Con misquotes me, claiming that I used Denton “to explain why what the NVA did was worse than torture, which is a non-sequitur.” Please allow me to re-post the actual quote:

“Denton says now that ‘Waterboarding is not an evil. Some of the things [the NVA] did to us were torture. I passed out a dozen times from torture. We’re not exerting that kind of excruciation.’ [emphasis added]

As you can see, Con mischaracterizes my statement and uses it to bolster his argument. In fact, no non-sequitur occurred. He then says that “Just because one version of torture may be considered worse torture doesn't invalidate the other side,” which is true. Unfortunately, in making this statement he agrees that waterboarding, if it is in fact even torture at all, is not as bad as other forms, thus partially negating his own argument.

R4: Sources

Con’s tossing out of my sources because they are mostly government is amusing, since he uses government officials for his own argument. Con would have us believe that those who are in a position to speak on the effectiveness of the practice only have valid opinions if they agree with him that waterboarding is wrong. According to his logic, anyone who has engaged in it or experienced it and still agrees with the practice must be assumed to be part of the “shadowy underworld.”

The truth is, there will be opinions on both sides, even within the "shadow community." Just like there are conscientious objectors in the military, not everyone in the intelligence community is willing to use waterboarding. However, it’s important to look at the example of the CIA agent I quoted in the first round. He actually believes waterboarding is torture—and still agrees that it was necessary. [3] He personally would not perform it, but says circumstances still warranted its use.

Con states that we “have no way of verifying [government] claims without actually watching the interrogation videos of Mohammed…" I ask Con if the videos of Nick Berg being beheaded, or of American soldiers’ mutilated bodies being dragged through the dirt convinced him that we’re dealing with an evil enemy. Does he believe that seeing the videos of KSM’s interrogation would possibly convince him that the methods used were warranted?

As for Con’s query about control measures to see how many people gave credible information as opposed to “wild goose chases,” this is simply not a valid argument. Firstly, any statistics given would immediately be thrown out by Con due to his already-stated disbelief of any member of the intelligence community who does not agree with him. Secondly, how does Con propose to even measure such a thing? And how much credible information justifies waterboarding’s use? He offers hypotheticals knowing that he doesn’t find them valid, then asks “What if bin Laden wasn’t stupid enough to tell anyone about his whereabouts?” Osama is dead because we got him. Con cannot use a false situation to argue a point when the opposite of his hypothesis already happened and proved his argument incorrect.

Con states that “Just to verify their claims could take days, weeks, months, or years,” but ignores:

a) Other methods of interrogation, such as sleep deprivation, exposure to cold or hot environments, or prolonged standing take the same amount of time, during which they have NO information to go on;

b) After one session of waterboarding, interrogators are always given information. Is it a “waste of government resources” if that information turns out to be false, but leads to true information later? Intelligence is a painstaking process, and involves chasing down false leads that may lead somewhere and may not. Police detectives follow every lead regardless of its seeming falsity—because it just might be real, or lead to that.

R5: Testimonials

Con refuses to see my sources as valid, even though they operate in the same circles as his own. I view his sources as educated, and entitled to their opinion. I will mention, however, that Terrence Russell, a SERE instructor who Con cites as being against waterboarding, is actually in favor of it, and has taught it. He's against “something that would cause permanent physical damage.” [4] In fact, he personally waterboarded trainees. Con's sources take quotes against torture and use them to bolster the idea that these men are against waterboarding. They aren't—because they don't see waterboarding as torture.

R6: Conclusion

The Constitution mentions these detainees, certainly—they’re called “enemies, foreign and domestic.” The phrase “cruel and unusual” is not in the eye of beholder, nor does the Bill of Rights apply to enemies of the U.S.

As for us not living in the Dark Ages, Con should take a trip to Afghanistan and Iraq. They do.

[1]http://dictionary.reference.com...
[2]http://en.wikipedia.org...(season_3)#Chinese_Water_Torture

[3] http://abcnews.go.com...
[4]http://www.american-buddha.com...

PARADIGM_L0ST

Con

=== REBUTTAL ===

R1.

PRO begins her argument in this Round by taking exception to the Dictionaries definition (as if I invented the word and its meaning) to allude that it must somehow be misconstrued on my end. Apparently torturing someone through fear and mental anguish is not really torture at all.

That being the proposed case, I have to ask PRO whether or not she thinks locking up a 5-year old in a dog cage for days on end is torture? If not, why not? Does the fact that the child wasn't physically struck mean that they're not being tortured? Any reasonable person of sound judgment would clearly recognize that as torture. And how strapping someone down against their will and pouring water down their windpipe doesn't constitute torture is a complete mystery to me.

R2.

PRO then asserts that I somehow attempted to negate her 3 POW's with my 1 POW. It doesn't negate their testimony, nor does my use of John McCain automatically stand up to scrutiny. What it does do, however, is fully demonstrates that we're dealing with something subjective. What she personally believes is not torture is at odds with mine. It's not really a provable point in the same sense that DNA is, because ultimately it comes down to a difference in interpretation. I'm simply establishing that their testimony can be contradicted.

PRO then asserts that Special Operations units attending SERE school are subjected to waterboarding, so how could it possibly be considered torture? The answer is obvious, and indeed, she unwittingly shoots herself in the foot. The whole reason why they use waterboarding is specifically so the member knows what torture is like. The critical difference is that it's in a controlled environment, and quite unlike what it's like in an actual interrogation, it stops rather quickly. In a real interrogation, this method of torture can be inflicted dozens of times, for an undetermined amount of time in an attempt to extract the information they have, regardless of whether or not the subject actually knows.

But what if PRO is actually being very selective? I have to ask PRO what she would consider if a loved one was subjected to these 'enhanced interrogation techniques.' How would she respond, HONESTLY? PRO, you have the floor.

PRO further states that, "Congress has officially put the welfare and humanity of mass murderers and conspirators above that of our own citizenry." She is mistaken. If the US continues to use these archaic practices on others, you can guarantee that no reprieve or quarter will be given to our troops. It only further exacerbates the ill-treatment, which means it actually makes everyone less safe, not more safe.

PRO then dismisses my next argument about rape and PTSD entirely. Instead of supporting her assertions, she simply states "this is fallacious." That's not an argument, that's a declaration. If PRO would like to keep her credibility intact, she must respond genuinely.

PRO then denigrates her enemies by saying that they are deserving of such treatment. I submit that the greatest virtue of America has been their historical unwillingness to engage in unethical practices that only makes us more like our enemies, not saves us from them. But at last we see the true motivation -- unrestrained retribution.

PRO then states, "In Season 3 of Mythbusters, the idea that CWT can cause someone to go insane was proven—but not like he says. Episode notes show that "The required torture equipment (and involuntary movement restrictions) is highly effective even without adding the discomfort of the water drip. The water drip itself... is almost negligible."

PRO, again, inadvertently makes the case for me. She states that just the act of restraining someone can cause them to go insane. PRO, are you aware of what is necessary to restrain an individual undergoing waterboading? Compounding the issue is not a single drop of water, but a complete lack of oxygen and the terror of drowning. Or as Jesse Ventura stated, "its not simulated drowning, it is drowning

"Perhaps Con should ask those who have been subjected to both—such as every member of the Special Forces, Navy SEALS, Delta Force, and Long Range Recon since World War II, as well as all CIA interrogators and operatives."

I went to BUD/S (Navy SEAL training) in 2000. While I was medically dropped before attending SERE school, and therefore was not personally subjected to waterboarding, I do personally know battle-hardened SEALs and other Special Operators who have been waterboarded. They all stated, uncategorically, that it was terrifying. Mind you, they knew it was going to stop rather quickly and the frequency was not nearly rival to what an actual field operation where there is no assurance when their torment will end.

R3

PRO then alleges that I misquoted her about Denton, when in fact, I didn't quote her at all. She made several allusions, most notably that, since Denton was a POW and was brutalized by the NVA, he therefore must be more credible than everyone else. If he says waterboarding isn't torture, then it must not be.

That's a logical fallacy. Secondly, it is a non-sequitur. Just because what the NVA did to him could be considered worse by many people, doesn't negate the point that waterboarding is ALSO considered a form of torture. So mentioning what the enemy does is entirely irrelevant. It's just an emotive argument geared towards gaining sympathy for her cause in justifying waterboarding.

I'll allow the reader to come to that decision for themselves.

R4

PRO does not take in to consideration that the CIA has, on many occasions, violated not only it's own laws, but also international laws. Here's the plain fact: Waterboarding IS considered TORTURE according to Article 3 of the Geneva Convention.

"It's a clear-cut case: Waterboarding can without any reservation be labeled as torture. It fulfils all of the four central criteria that according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) defines an act of torture. First, when water is forced into your lungs in this fashion, in addition to the pain you are likely to experience an immediate and extreme fear of death. You may even suffer a heart attack from the stress or damage to the lungs and brain from inhalation of water and oxygen deprivation. In other words there is no doubt that waterboarding causes severe physical and/or mental suffering– one central element in the UNCAT's definition of torture. In addition the CIA's waterboarding clearly fulfills the three additional definition criteria stated in the Convention for a deed to be labeled torture, since it is 1) done intentionally, 2) for a specific purpose and 3) by a representative of a state– in this case the US." [1]

As well, the CIA has been caught red-handed in cases of extraordinary rendition, that is, essentially, torture by proxy. They take the detainees to a Black Site in a country that does not abide by the Geneva Convention to engage in these practices. Now, why hide it if it's not torture? Why take them, specifically, to a country that does not follow the Geneva Convention if they honestly believed what they were doing was legal, let alone ethical? [2]

PRO then dodges my argument where I stated that one could only reasonably know the effectiveness of the waterboardings only if we viewed them. That's a reasonable request. Instead of dealing with the argument, PRO strawman's it by mentioning that we're dealing with an "evil enemy." Immaterial! Irrelevant! In kindergarten we learned that doing the same things in return invalidates your justification for doing it back to them.

Sadly, my character counter indicates I've run out of characters to utilize. I will attempt to pick up where I left off in the next round of debate.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. http://www.washingtonpost.com...
Debate Round No. 3
aircraftmechgirl

Pro


The topic for debate is actually that waterboarding is an acceptable means of intelligence gathering. One of the arguments I choose to use in proving that overall point is that waterboarding is not torture. My opponent states that this is subjective, and somehow believes this disproves my entire thesis.


In reality, his disagreement with me on the definition of waterboarding as torture does not, in any way, mean I lose the debate. This is because I do not have to prove waterboarding is not torture to prove that there are situations when it is acceptable or necessary to use. There are plenty of sources who actually agree with Con that waterboarding is torture, and still do not hesitate to use it because in the greater context, its use can be justified.


However, we shall go on to rebut Con’s position one last time before final round closing arguments.


First of all, Con is completely, and bafflingly, misinformed about what waterboarding is. Note the following statements:


- “And how strapping someone down against their will and pouring water down their windpipe doesn't constitute torture is a complete mystery to me.”


- First, when water is forced into your lungs in this fashion, in addition to the pain you are likely to experience an immediate and extreme fear of death. You may even suffer a heart attack from the stress or damage to the lungs and brain from inhalation of water and oxygen deprivation.”


- “In other words there is no doubt that waterboarding causes severe physical and/or mental suffering.”



Even though I clearly defined what waterboarding is and how it’s done in Round 1, let’s revisit the definition one more time.


"The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt."


How, pray tell, if there is cellophane over the terrorist’s face, are we “pouring water down their windpipe?” This is simulated drowning; emphasis on simulated. At no time is the subject actually drowning, nor is he having water “forced into his lungs.”


As for the “immediate and extreme fear of death,” well, yes. That’s why it’s effective. However, there is no medical evidence that “You may even suffer a heart attack from the stress or damage to the lungs and brain from inhalation of water and oxygen deprivation.” That’s simply not possible, because there is no damage to the lungs. There is no inhalation of water, and there is no oxygen deprivation reaching critical levels. What makes waterboarding so effective is that it fools the subject into thinking he is in danger when in reality he is not.


The Cornell Progressive, a liberal source, admits that “Despite the great discomfort associated with waterboarding, the fact remains that it is simulated drowning, and when done properly, no permanent physical damage occurs.” [1]


In the Daily Collegian, alumni Stephen Johnson, a Navy aircrew member, explains that he was waterboarded as part of his training. He states that “It does not maim, cause permanent physical damage or result in death. It is only terrifying. Causing an emotional response is not torture.” [2]


Con’s argument here is null and void, since he finds himself in Round 3 of a debate on a practice he does not even understand.


R2:


He tosses up a decision question meant to make me re-think my position through emotional response: “I have to ask PRO what she would consider if a loved one was subjected to these 'enhanced interrogation techniques.' How would she respond, HONESTLY?”


If someone I knew and loved was actively plotting to kill Americans, and there was no time for interrogators to build up rapport and trust with the subject to get him to talk, I absolutely would not hesitate to support enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. The bottom line is that there are lives at stake.


Con goes on with the argument that “If the US continues to use these archaic practices on others, you can guarantee that no reprieve or quarter will be given to our troops.”


I’ll let Lt. Col. Rick Francona answer this for me. He states that “The argument that use of aggressive interrogation techniques by CIA interrogators will place our military personnel at greater risk in the future should they be captured does not stand up to scrutiny. American prisoners of war have never been treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions – the only countries that adhere to the protocols seem to be the United States and its allies. In virtually every conflict, our captured personnel have been brutally treated and abused.” [3]


Keep in mind, the United States didn’t design waterboarding. We learned it because it was done to our own men. Then again, “some human rights organizations consider even blindfolding and handcuffing to be torture, as well as isolation and sleep deprivation.”


Cornell goes on that “because waterboarding and many of the other interrogation tactics described above may have lasting psychological effects, it should only be allowed in dire situations where the failure to obtain intelligence will most likely mean the certain death of others. In these situations, the ill psychological effects will be the price that the terrorists pay for their involvement in heinous acts.”


Con tries to use yet another version of the moral superiority argument, but I’m going to turn it on its head and hand it back.


Would Con be willing to subject someone to waterboarding if his loved one was about to die and the man in front of him had information that would save them? Psychology shows that the instinct for survival—and by extension, protection of the survival of those we love—is the single most motivating factor in all of human behavior. Chances are good that Con, like almost anyone else, would engage in whatever he had to.


Having sympathy for the perceived suffering of our enemies is not based on moral superiority. It is based on “ignorance of our own mortality, ignorance of any threat against an individual personality, and fear of others perceiving us in a negative manner along with whatever social consequences come along with that.


As for his assertion that I need to respond to his rape argument in order to keep my credibility, I’ll simply say this. I ignored the initial argument for personal reasons. Since Con chose to introduce his own unverified experience in BUD/S as evidence, I will also submit my own unverified experience as a rape victim. Con’s argument about rape being torture is ridiculous. Con can no more argue that rape is torture—especially to someone who actually has experienced it—than I can argue that being kicked in the testicles is torture when I don't have testicles.


One last thing. Geneva applies to the following:



  • members of the armed forces of a party to an international conflict,

  • members of militias or volunteer corps including members of organized resistance movements as long as they have a well-defined chain of command,

  • are clearly distinguishable from the civilian population,

  • carry their arms openly, and obey the laws of war [4]


In order to receive Geneva Protections, combatants have to meet every one of the above conditions. Terrorists do not, the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case notwithstanding.


In this round, I have shown the following:



- Con operates with a completely mistaken idea of what waterboarding even is.


- I do not have to prove waterboarding is not torture to win the debate.


- Terrorists do not meet the criteria for Geneva Convention protection.


- Con’s moral superiority argument is also nullified by basic psychology.



I look forward to closing arguments.



[1] http://www.rso.cornell.edu...


[2] http://www.collegian.psu.edu...


[3] http://www.msnbc.msn.com...


[4]http://jb-williams.com...





PARADIGM_L0ST

Con

I'd like to once again thank my opponent for starting this interesting and provocative topic. I hope that the reader was both entertained and even learned new things during the course of the exchange.

=== REBUTTALS ===

PRO begins her final rebuttal by reiterating that the topic is about waterboarding being an "acceptable" means of gathering intelligence. Of course, "acceptable" could mean many things. Because it's vague and subjective, one can only respond in kind with what she herself wrote, which I have aptly done. It could mean acceptable from a moral perspective, it could mean acceptable from workable perspective. Regardless, I will hearken back to my initial sentiments that it's both immoral and ineffective.

In the interest of time and a finite amount of characters, I will keep my rebuttals brief.

PRO apparently thinks she owns the patent on what waterboarding is, by claiming that cellophane is wrapped around the face preventing water from entering the windpipe. The only thing patent about this statement is that it's patently absurd! What's the point of the WATER and the fear of DROWNING if water never enters the person's windpipe?!?! Secondly, a towel is the most common method, the reason being is that it's porous enough to allow water to pass through, without allowing the victim to breathe.

It's so self-explanatory that I don't even need to waste characters substantiating that. If ANYONE disagrees with that, I invite all to research it.

PRO then explains that it's designed not to leave any permanent physical damage. I don't contest that, which is why it is utilized. But it's not in the interest of the victim, it's in their interest to not get caught doing what they know, by legal mandate, which is torture.

If waterboarding was merely an interrogation tool, why wouldn't domestic law enforcement personnel be allowed to conduct it on murder or rape suspects? The answer is obvious... because it is illegal and considered torture, in accordance with the United States Code. It even has a specific subparagraph that outlines the criteria for mental anguish defined as torture.

SOURCE: http://www.justice.gov...

"As for his assertion that I need to respond to his rape argument in order to keep my credibility, I'll simply say this. I ignored the initial argument for personal reasons. Since Con chose to introduce his own unverified experience in BUD/S as evidence, I will also submit my own unverified experience as a rape victim"

It's not my intention to bring up painful memories for PRO. The question, after all, was a philosophical question in direct relation to her assertion that torture can only be considered as such if excruciating pain was involved. Her answer is obvious that she knows her qualification for torture is absurd, and my rape corollary proves that. As for my BUD/S experience, in order for me to substantiate that, I'd have to disseminate personal information which compromises both my identity and Social Security number.

If anyone doubts my credibility, I invite you to contact Innomen who knows I was in BUD/S.

PRO summarizes that the Geneva Convention only applies to a specific criteria. Sadly for her, the Taliban and Al Qaeda qualify. If it were not so, then that would strongly imply that we could randomly pick up any civilian and torture them on account of them not dressing the part.

=== CLOSING ARGUMENTS ===

Waterboarding is ineffective: Every comprehensive report to date, even amongst the CIA, either willfully or reluctantly relay that waterboarding, or more broadly, torture, is an ineffective means of extracting useful information. It isn't difficult in understanding why this is. Anyone will say or do whatever is necessary to make the pain and terror stop, even deliberately spreading disinformation. One case study examines two high-level Al Qaeda officers who were waterboarded a cumulative of 266 times without gathering useful intelligence. In fact, the CIA was tying up its resources on wild goose chases.

SOURCE: http://www.csmonitor.com...

Waterboarding is torture: I've already given expert testimony detailing how and why torture is an ineffective tool to extract useful information. Since PRO uses the US Navy and its SERE program as template for its effectiveness, who better than a US Navy SERE instructor to define it as ineffective and tortuous?

"In my case, the technique was so fast and professional that I didn't know what was happening until the water entered my nose and throat," Nance testified yesterday at a House oversight hearing on torture and enhanced interrogation techniques. "It then pushes down into the trachea and starts the process of respiratory degradation. It is an overwhelming experience that induces horror and triggers frantic survival instincts. As the event unfolded, I was fully conscious of what was happening: I was being tortured."

SOURCE: http://www.washingtonpost.com...

Waterboarding is illegal: Torture is outlawed by both the US Code and the Geneva Convention, and despite what PRO states, all enemy combatants are protected, and moreover, NO United States citizen can legally engage in any form of torture. PRO is completely wrong from a legal perspective.

"torture" means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control

(2)"severe mental pain or suffering" means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—

(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;

(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;

(C) the threat of imminent death; or

(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality


SOURCE: http://waterboarding.org...

In the final analysis, it is beyond refutation that waterboarding is defined as torture, is illegal for any nation to engage in, and is considered and immoral act. I cannot speak for PRO's motivation, but I suspect most supporters of waterboarding are willing to turn a blind eye as long as they feel they can even the playing field. It's true that many terrorists engage in deplorable acts against our brethren. But the second we behave even remotely like them, the second we lose sight of who we are as a nation. Retribution is not worth assassinating the conscience, in my humblest opinion.

As CON, my only necessary goal in debate is to prove reasonable doubt. I have gone above and beyond reasonable doubt, and have sufficiently proven, unequivocally, that every contention was proven.

I trust the readers know this beyond all doubt. And for this reason, sensible and unbiased voters, vote CON.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by KristophKP 5 years ago
KristophKP
Were I able to vote, my points would have gone to the CON side. One too many attempts by PRO at denigrating CON's introduction of a fair definition of torture.
Posted by PARADIGM_L0ST 5 years ago
PARADIGM_L0ST
If I had any idea that this debate would have boiled down to semantics as much as it did over the term "acceptable," I would have sought for clarification in the opening round. But then, in what other way could the already vague term "acceptable" be applied to waterboarding if not from a legal perspective, a moral perspective, and a perspective relating to usefulness, all of which I covered?
Posted by Cerebral_Narcissist 5 years ago
Cerebral_Narcissist
Torture is not in of itself immoral.
Posted by 000ike 5 years ago
000ike
you know, for pro, I respect people who concede when they're actually convinced rather than continuing a fruitless and incoherent argument. I'm all for free thinking and debate of all kind, but the defense of torture is, as the majority of the world perceives it, the pinnacle of immorality.
8 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Vote Placed by feverish 5 years ago
feverish
aircraftmechgirlPARADIGM_L0STTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Good debate. Pro pretty much gave up arguing that it isn't torture and never made a case for why torture is acceptable. Note that the resolution concerns acceptability rather than effectiveness.
Vote Placed by ohnoyoulost 5 years ago
ohnoyoulost
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Reasons for voting decision: So close that I'm only awarding one point to pro. Both sides did wonderfully.
Vote Placed by thejudgeisgod 5 years ago
thejudgeisgod
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Reasons for voting decision: My vote comes down to this. AFF gave a clear definition of what water-boarding consisted of; which in practice doesn't constitute PHYSICAL harm. I do not choose to accept "mental anguish" as torture, because, then all humanity has been tortured. Furthermore, just because waterboarding can be considered torture doesn't inherently mean it's not acceptable. AFF gets one point for making the more convincing argument. Great job to both debaters/
Vote Placed by Double_R 5 years ago
Double_R
aircraftmechgirlPARADIGM_L0STTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Very good debate on both sides. Pro begins R3 by pointing out that Con has not negated the resolution but Con only argued the points Pro acknowledged in the previous round, showing that Con had a strong level of control in this debate. Beyond that the resolution clearly states that Torture is "acceptable" in a general sense, not in certain situations. Con showed that it is ineffective not adequately countered by Pro, and that it is illegal according to the US convention making it unacceptable.
Vote Placed by Darknes 5 years ago
Darknes
aircraftmechgirlPARADIGM_L0STTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con based many of her arguments on waterboarding being torture, when the title of the debate is if it is an acceptable means of gathering information.
Vote Placed by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
aircraftmechgirlPARADIGM_L0STTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct - I felt that Pro became a little snippy in later rounds. S&G - no real differences Arguments - Con obviously showed that waterboarding is torture, but never really made a strong link to tortune being un-acceptible. The most imporant thing for me was the effectiveness, which Con only had a single argument for, and Pro sufficiently over came (though she could have done better on it). Sources - both used a good number of sources from a wide range of fields.
Vote Placed by Cerebral_Narcissist 5 years ago
Cerebral_Narcissist
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro outlined a great case, but was ultimately unable to address Con's counterarguments. Her definition of torture, though well argued is clearly nonsense and requires us to ignore the meaning of a very well understood and well used term. The sources she offers are invalid, being utterly politically biased. She argues very well, but the narrow range of her arguments and failure to offer a rebuttal means she does not meet the burden of proof.
Vote Placed by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
aircraftmechgirlPARADIGM_L0STTied
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Reasons for voting decision: This was well argued by both sides. Pro got slammed on torture, because water boarding surely is torture, and Con made sure to hammer that point in, so he get's two points for that. However Con did not overcome Pro's statements about its necessity. 3:2, Pro.