The Instigator
RoyLatham
Pro (for)
Winning
27 Points
The Contender
InVinoVeritas
Con (against)
Losing
12 Points

Waterboarding should be legal in the United States.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 10 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/30/2012 Category: Society
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 14,913 times Debate No: 23939
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (26)
Votes (10)

 

RoyLatham

Pro

There are a number of definitions of waterboarding. The definition of interest for this debate is the technique used by the Central Intelligence Agency to interrogate terrorists. Wikipedia quotes a CIA manual:

"In this procedure, the individual is bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The individual's feet are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes. Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner. As this is done, the cloth is lowered until it covers both the nose and mouth. Once the cloth is saturated and completely covers the mouth and nose, air flow is slightly restricted for 20 to 40 seconds due to the presence of the cloth... During those 20 to 40 seconds, water is continuously applied from a height of twelve to twenty-four inches. After this period, the cloth is lifted, and the individual is allowed to breathe unimpeded for three or four full breaths... The procedure may then be repeated." [1. http://en.wikipedia.org...]

The resolution affirms that waterboarding should be legal in the United States under certain limited circumstances to be specified. The negation argues that the techniques should never be legal in the United States under any circumstances.

Rules

The burden of proof in this debate is shared, meaning that the better case should prevail.

This opening round is for definitions and acceptance only. The Pro case will be given at the start of the second round.

Standard debate conventions apply. I list them here for the benefit of new debaters and readers. I believe there is nothing tricky or eccentric. Both sides agree to the following rules, and that violating the rules is a conduct violation, with anything contrary to the rules to be ignored by readers judging the debate:

DR 1. All arguments must be made in the debate. Evidence may be cited or linked from the debate, but only in support of arguments made in the debate. Arguments made in Comments are to be ignored.

DR 2. Source links or references must be included within the 8000 characters per round limit of the debate. No links or sources are permitted in comments.

DR 3 Any term not specifically defined before use is to be taken with the ordinary dictionary definition of the term that best fits the context of the debate.

DR 4. No new arguments shall be made in Round 4. Arguments and evidence may be presented in R4 in rebuttal to any previous argument, but no new arguments.

DR 5. DDO site rules always apply. Neither side may add or modify rules for the debate once the challenge is accepted.

DR 6. Dropped arguments are not counted as concessions. They may be taken up again or left to be judged as part of the case.

This debate is part of the 99th percentile tournament http://www.debate.org...

Thanks to my opponent for the opportunity to debate. Waterboarding is a much-debated topic. More information has come to light recently, so I'm looking forward to an interesting debate.

InVinoVeritas

Con

I accept this challenge. Furthermore, I agree with the definition of "waterboarding" and the rules of debate, both of which have been provided by the opponent.

I look forward to an insightful debate on this matter. Many thanks to RoyLatham for acting as my opponent in this debate.
Debate Round No. 1
RoyLatham

Pro

1. Waterboarding is used to collect life-saving information

Waterboarding should be used only when lives are at stake. It's not for punishment or for extracting confessions.

Suppose terrorists have hidden a nuclear bomb somewhere in New York City. One of the terrorists is detained and there is good reason to believe he knows where the bomb is located. The objective is to obtain the information from him in time to stop the detonation. I claim that it would be immoral not to use waterboarding under those circumstances, because the potential is for saving many innocent lives, and the worst case for the detainee is that he is terrorized temporarily, but not permanently harmed.

The phrase "ticking time bomb" is somewhat misleading. The detainee must have information that is likely to save lives if revealed, but the information may retain it's critical nature for months or years.

Is it morally justified to kill one innocent person to save the lives of many others? That's debatable. Our question is whether it is justified to subject a terrorist to temporary discomfort to save the lives of many citizens. It's not only justified, it is morally required.

The case of a nuclear weapon is extreme, but it is a valid hypothetical to demonstrate the principle. We know of only three cases at Gitmo when the CIA used waterboarding. In one case, a plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge was uncovered and prevented. It's used so infrequently because other enhanced interrogation techniques usually are effective.

2. Safeguards prevent indiscriminate use

The conditions for using waterboarding ought to be as follows:

a. It is to be only used by trained CIA interrogators, never by the military or the police.

b. The detainee must be certified by an attending physician as unlikely to suffer permanent harm.

c. The objective is to get information that will save lives.

d. Either the President or a Judge appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate must issue a warrant based upon a showing probable cause that the detainee knows the information sought, and it is probable that lives are at stake.

e. It's not prohibited by mutually subscribed to and mutually honored treaty with the enemy.

Famed liberal lawyer and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz supports the morality of using waterboarding under presidential warrant. He says, "If the president of the United States thinks it's absolutely essential to defend the lives of thousands of people, he ought to be on the line. He ought to have to sign a torture warrant ..." [2. http://www.npr.org...]


3. Waterboarding is effective

Waterboarding unquestionably produces time-critical information needed to save lives, and that information could not be obtained by other means.

Waterboarding of Kalid Sheik Muhammad "— led to the discovery- of a KSM plot, the "Second Wave," "to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airline into" a building in Los Angeles," In the three cases that waterboarding was used on terrorists, Al Qaida members Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, it always worked and the information obtained was verified. [3. http://directorblue.blogspot.com......]

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT), and ultimately waterboarding (in the three cases):

"produced 3,000 of the 6,000 critical counter-terror intelligence reports only after normal techniques had proved fruitless; used on Zubaydah revealed KSM's identity as a mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks; KSM ratted out a number of mass-murderers including Hambali; Hambali's brother ratted out a cell bent on "9/11 Wave 2" on the West Coast; Zubaydah also revealed Padilla and his plan to detonate a simplistic dirty bomb in Washington, DC" [3]

Former CIA operative John Kiriakou also told CNN:

"The former agent, who said he participated in the Abu Zubayda interrogation but not his waterboarding, said the CIA decided to waterboard the al Qaeda operative only after he was "wholly uncooperative" for weeks and refused to answer questions. ... All that changed [... after waterboarding], Kiriakou said he learned from the CIA agents who performed the technique. ... The terror suspect, who is being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reportedly gave up information that indirectly led to the the 2003 raid in Pakistan yielding the arrest of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, an alleged planner of the September 11, 2001, attacks, Kiriakou said. ... The CIA was unaware of Mohammed's stature before the Abu Zubayda interrogation, the former agent said." [4. http://tinyurl.com... ]

Author Marc Theisen independently verified Kiriakou's claims, saying "And in Courting Disaster, I meticulously document the evidence for the efficacy of the CIA interrogation program — based not on Kirakou's claims, but on the testimony of the actual interrogators, interviews with top CIA and other intelligence officials, the evidence presented in the CIA inspector general's report, and other top-secret documents declassified by the Obama administration." [5. http://tinyurl.com...]

Former CIA official Jose Rodriquez, who was in charge of the program, recently wrote in his book Hard Measures that milder FBI techniques cold not have replaced waterboarding. [6. http://tinyurl.com... ] Rodriquez writes, “Could we have gotten the same information using FBI practices?” Rodriguez asks. “Maybe. If we had all the time in the world, perhaps we could have. But we did not.”

In 60 Minutes interview [7. http://www.syracuse.com...], Rodriquez said
"We made some al Qaeda terrorists with American blood on their hands uncomfortable for a few days," Rodriguez said on Sunday's "60 Minutes." "I am very secure in what we did and am very confident that what we did saved American lives."

"In particular, Rodriguez defended the treatment of suspected al Qaeda leader and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who did not cooperate during initial questioning. After a combination of waterboarding, which simulates drowning, and sleep deprivation, Mohammed gave up information that helped disrupt 10 large-scale terrorist plots, Rodriguez said." [7]


4. The alternative to waterboarding is rendition.

No moral leader is going to let a terrorist enjoy a comfortable retirement while the terrorist holds information that could save lives. The policy of the Clinton Administration was to turn over detainees to other countries [8. http://www.fas.org...] who would use torture to extract information. The Bush Administration changed that policy to use EIT, including waterboarding in the extreme, in order to improve the reliability of the information being obtained by poorly trained foreign interrogators, and also to prevent the severe torture used. The Obama Administration has continued a policy of rendition. [9.http://tinyurl.com... ]

Waterboarding is certainly harsh, but it produces no lasting physical harm or serious mental harm and is therefore superior to rendition. It is used in the training of CIA operatives and special forces personnel. A fair number of journalists have volunteered to be waterboarded, so they can write about the experience. Those in include Kaj Larsen and Christopher Hitchins They report a horrible experience, but they would not have volunteered if they thought it would seriously injure them, and it did not. How many other forms of "torture" has a list of journalists volunteering for it? I know of none.

Whether or not waterboarding meets the definition of torture is moot. It is currently legal in the United States. It's use has been suspended by President Obama's executive order. [9] If it is torture is is certainly in a different category from the type of torture that causes permanent harm.

No interrogation technique is guaranteed to save lives, but waterboarding provides a good chance when all else fails. It should remain legal.

The resolution is affirmed.


InVinoVeritas

Con

COUNTER-ARGUMENTS




Re: 1: Waterboarding is used to collect life-saving information


The opponent states that there is a potential for saving innocent lives, and "the worst case for the detainee is that he is terrorized temporarily, but not permanently harmed."

a. This, however, represents an unrealistically hypothetical situation. Here are the things that the scenario implies knowledge of:

1. Lives at stake: Are there lives at risk? Without knowing the type of bomb and location of the bomb (among other details), it is not possible to know. Without knowing with certainty that lives are at risk, is it right to submit someone to torture.

2. Terrorist's knowledge: There is no way of knowing, with certainty, that the terrorist who is being tortured actually knows the critical details about the bomb that investigators are looking for. Hence, the terrorist could be tortured to find information that he, in fact, does not know. Without certainty that the terrorist actually knows information about the bomb's details, one cannot justify the use of waterboarding.

3. Type of bomb: The scenario implies that investigators know, with certainty, what kind of bomb is being used. However, the knowledge of the type of bomb is typically not known with certainty. Hence, this unproven knowledge cannot be used to justify the use of torture (e.g., waterboarding) to find further information.

4: Location: The scenario implies that investigators know, with certainty, where the bomb is planted. And based off of that, the torture would be justified. In real life, the knowledge of the location is not known with certainty, in all cases. Therefore, it cannot be stated that the knowledge of the location can justify the use of torture (e.g., waterboarding.)

The "ticking time bomb" scenario implicitly includes an invalid presumption that the decision-maker can know, in advance, the outcome of torture. However, this is never the case. Due to a substantial number of omitted uncertainties, the hypothetical ticking time bomb argument fails to justify the legalization of waterboarding.

b. The opponent provides an example of a success story resulting from the use of waterboarding. Indeed, waterboarding CAN lead to positive results, but this does not prove its effectiveness. Perhaps an investigator can force a terrorist to release valid information by playing Justin Bieber songs to him; nonetheless, the Bieber approach still cannot be deemed effective based on the aforementioned example.

c. The opponent states that the detainee would be "not permanently harmed." This will be disputed in my later argument.


Re: 2: Safeguards prevent indiscriminate use


b. a physician determine the mental trauma that is sustained by the victim after the incident and whether or not the trauma would be permanent.

c. But it is impossible to know that the terrorist knows the information, that lives will be saved, or if there is even any information to be sought. The objective is founded on hypotheticals.

d. There is a chance that known information that justifies the use of torture and suggests that there is "probable cause" will later be proven invalid. There is much uncertainty and "probable cause" is arbitrary, especially due to this lack of definite knowledge of the matter at hand.

The quoted statement by Alan Dershowitz does not pose an argument; it is an appeal to authority.



Re: 3: Waterboarding is effective

This argument is founded on specific instances in which waterboarding was used and success came out of it. In addition, cherry-picked figures are quoted in support of waterboarding. However, the statements form no factual indication that waterboarding is, all in all, effective. For example, Jose Rodriquez's statement is solely based on how he felt about the situation, that information could not have been acquired if waterboarding were not used; this, however, is not a proveable statement.

As I will later show, waterboarding is not effective, overall.


Re: 4:

This basis for this argument is that waterboarding is not harmful. This will be contradicted later on.




ARGUMENTS:


1: Waterboarding has a long-term negative psychological impact

The effects of waterboarding include significant long-term post traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression. Submission to asphyxiation torture, such as waterboarding, can have many serious effects on one's life. Some subjected people fear showering and exercising. [1] A number of waterboarding survivors have a long-lasting inability to develop close and intimate relationships, and this profoundly affects marriage, families, and the ability to raise kids, but also long-lasting relationships are a key part in the success of working, so this form of withdrawal and non-trust seen in torture survivors is extremely disabling. [2]

Waterboarding, as evaluated by those who underwent it, is described as painful; most of those who disagree have not experienced, and therefore, a so-called "empathy gap" exists. [3] The implementation of waterboarding in governmental affairs was designed and assured to be safe by two well-paid psychologists who had no interrogation experience and the CIA later announced that their "expertise" was probably "misrepresented." [4]

It is supported by a very large number of health professionals and mental health clinicians/researchers that waterboarding leads to seriously adverse psychological effects.

2. Waterboarding is ineffective

"And all too often, [torture] does not work. After John McCain was bound, kicked and exposed to the elements, beaten every few hours by a different guard, he signed a document confessing to war crimes. Because when you're tortured, you'll say anything. Anything. Anything. Anything." [5] Indeed, false information is often acquired from the use of waterboarding. People are willing to say anything to avoid the torture. Bad information fuels improper decisions and would, in a society that upholds waterboarding, lead to further waterboarding without justifiable cause.

According to CIA sources, Ibn al Shaykh al Libbi, released information that the CIA was looking for. As a direct result of this information, the Bush administration formed the conclusion that biochemical weapons were present in Iraq, and this (faulty) concept was used as the initial justification for waging war with Al Qaida in Iraq. [6] This came about because Libbi wanted to avoid the torment of waterboarding and was willing to appease the investigators with whatever they were looking for, true or not.

3. Consequences

By torturing enemies, the enemy is more likely to react more harshly, escalating violence. By using torture in order to avoid violence, further violence is enabled, because opponents begin to feel as though, in vengeance, US soldiers may also be brutally tortured. This forms an international justification for torture, and in this way, it is counterintuitive, promoting violence through an attempt to prevent violence.

"The interrogations, torture and socialization of prison turned most of the men rounded up by Mubarak into hardened militants, thirsty for revenge: they would become the foot soldiers of terrorism." [7]

"Not only will torture create a dedicated core of anti-American jihadists, their stories will lose us the "hearts and minds" campaign with the larger Muslim population." [8]




The resolution is deemed null.




[1] http://www.time.com...

[2] http://news.nurse.com...
[3] http://www.cnn.com...
[4] http://abcnews.go.com...
[5] http://voices.yahoo.com...

[6] http://abcnews.go.com...
[7] Book: http://www.hup.harvard.edu...
[8] http://www.au.af.mil...
Debate Round No. 2
RoyLatham

Pro

1: Waterboarding is used to collect life-saving information


All of my opponents arguments are claims that without absolute certainty, no harsh interrogation is justified. Certainty is never used as a legal standard, because certainty is never attainable. As one academic put it, "The [highest] standard of proof is "absolute certainty." Although the law recognizes this standard of proof, it explicitly never requires it, because the law considers absolutism unworkable (i.e., no criminal would be convicted if 100% proof were required)." [10. http://karws.gso.uri.edu...]

Evidence that may provide adequate foundation for a warrant includes: claims of knowledge made by the terrorist himself, documents or computer files showing substantial involvement in terrorist acts, testimony from undercover agents or witnesses as to the nature and extent of terrorist involvement, physical evidence like DNA on bomb-making components, intercepted phone or computer communication showing general involvement in a terrorist plot, or other evidence of participation.

2. Safeguards

In the proposed safeguards, either the President or a judge must determine that there is both probable cause that the captured terrorist has critical information and that lives are at stake. Currently, the President authorizes drone strikes to kill suspected terrorists without any certification of probable cause, although it's likely the President maintains reasonable standards. Without the option of waterboarding, two options available are death by drone strikes or rendition to another country. Neither require any judicial review or formal certification of probable cause.

I posed the argument that it is immoral to let many people die in order to spare a terrorist from waterboarding. The quotation from Dershowitz serves to phrase the argument and to show that a liberal jurist believes it true. Con did not respond to the moral argument. con must assert that if the President believes thousands of lives can be saved by waterboarding a terrorist, then morality lies with sparing the terrorist and letting the people die. Con must give his reasoning behind that moral dictate. My reasoning is that the potential harm to the terrorist is low and that the value of saving thousands of innocent lives is high, so morality demands that water boarding proceed.

3. Waterboarding is effective

My case for the effectiveness of waterboarding comprises specific examples and expert opinion. Con did not deny any of the examples in which waterboarding saved lives. We have therefore established that waterboarding saves some lives. All that is left at issue is how many. I claim that saving innocent lives in any number is a positive balance when weighed against the duress endured by the terrorists.

Expert opinion is valid evidence. The question is whether the person cited is qualified as an expert. The FBI is forbidden by law from engaging in harsh interrogation techniques, because they are a domestic agency. The U.S. military is forbidden by law from using harsh interrogation. Only the CIA has experience with the methods, and they are best qualified to judge the results. The CIA seeks intelligence data, and they use escalating measures to obtain the vital information. Of the 1500 or so detainees at Gitmo, only three were waterboarded. The rest yielded less extreme methods. The CIA is therefore best qualified to judge effectiveness of different techniques, and Rodriquez opinion is therefore valid.

4. The alternative to waterboarding is rendition

I claimed that no moral person would spare a terrorist if it meant the death of innocent civilians. The Clinton Administration relied upon handing over terrorists to other nations so the terrorists could be subjected to unlimited torture, and that the Obama Administration has kept the policy of rendition. Con has not responded.

C1. Con argues that waterboarding has long term negative psychological impacts. Con cites an web post that claims a type of waterboarding dramatically different from that used by the CIA. In the waterboarding cited, interrogators "Pour water onto the inclined face so that the water runs into the upturned mouth and nose. The water stays in the head, filling the throat, mouth, and sinuses with water." In the waterboarding used by the CIA, water is prevented from entering the mouth and throat of the detainee. In the CIA method "the cloth is lifted, and the individual is allowed to breathe unimpeded for three or four full breaths." [1] There is a psychological impact from the sensation of drowning, but it is far short of the trauma studied.

The source for the long term effects was a professor of political science at Reed College who studied unspecified historical accounts of waterboarding. It seems unlikely that in historical use that interrogators would carefully limit exposure so as to not cause harm; in all likelihood more severe methods were used along with waterboarding as well. Terrorists are conditioned to expect waterboarding, as are U.S. special forces and CIA agents who are subjected to waterboarding as practice. There is no evidence that a single terrorist or U.S. operative has suffered any of the traumatic effects claimed.

Journalists have volunteered to be waterboarded so they could write about it. None have reported suffering any permanent mental or physical harm.

Are we in any case really worried that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, having masterminded the killing of 3000 innocent people will "have a long-lasting inability to develop close and intimate relationships?" If he escapes execution, he will remain in prison for the rest of his life.

C2. Con conceded that sometimes it does work, and I concede that sometimes it does not work. Thus there is a possibility of saving innocent lives, but not a guarantee. Morality lies on exercising the possibility of saving lives rather than sparing the terrorist discomfort.

Con argues that a person will confess to anything. In the proposed constraints on waterboarding, confessions are never sought, only verifiable intelligence information. Terrorists provide false information whether they are waterboarded or not. Intelligence agents always have to verify the information. KSM gave up the identity of a man plotting to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge, and agents acting on that information discovered documents proving the plan.

C3. Con argues that "the enemy is more likely to react more harshly, escalating violence." So, without waterboarding, terrorists kill 3000 innocent people and cut off the head of journalist on television but if waterboarded they might escalate the violence. What is left? Is there any doubt that if they had a nuclear weapon they would use it?

The resolution is affirmed.

Al Qaeda mastermind Khalid sheik Mohammed admits he personally murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, according to an updated version of his confession released today by the Pentagon. "I decapitated with blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan," Mohammed said in a written declaration submitted to a military tribunal at Guantanamo last weekend. … "For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head," KSM said in his statement. US officials had told ABC News that identifying marks on the hand of the masked man holding Pearl’s head matched those of KSM. http://abcnews.go.com...

Terrorists can choose to avoid waterboarding by simply signing on to the Geneva Conventions or negotiating a mutual ban with the U.S. They refuse to do so.

If waterboarding is legal, as it now is, the President is allowed to make the judgement as to whether the risk of inflaming enemy forces outweighs the potential benefit of averting terrorist mass killing. That option should be left with the President, who has the best ability to appraise the situation.

InVinoVeritas

Con

Re: 1: The point I tried to make was this: It is nearly impossible that intelligence would lead to the certainty of the existence of a "ticking time-bomb" (in the ticking time-bomb scenario that the opponent proposed in his initial first argument.) The exact nature of the bomb, its location, its timing of the detonation, and the lives that at stake. It is also impossible to know that a suspect has information that will end up helping authorities locate and eliminate the bomb threat. And lastly, it is uncertain whether torture will be able to sway an individual to unveil this information (assuming that they, in fact, have it.)

Hence, it is impossible to determine with any certainty the exact result (the potential to save lives) as well as the effectiveness of the means (torture) in helping save said lives. This makes it impossible to enter into the ticking time-bomb scenario's ethical calculation that would justify the means (torture) and the ends (saving lives).

Re: 2:
The opponent states that it is "immoral to let many people die in order to spare a terrorist from waterboarding."

This argument is ineffective unless one presupposes that waterboarding is an effective means to preventing the death of people.
In the same way, one can say: "It is immoral to prevent a mass murder in order to not brush the killer's teeth." This presupposes that if brushing the teeth of the killer, in theory, were to prevent the mass murder, then it should be done; however, this is a complete assumption made for the sake of the argument, and it brings about a loaded question. Hence, without evidence of effectiveness, this argument does not stand.

Re: 3:
Waterboarding has, at some point, saved lives. In the same way, I'm sure at some point, someone's decision to bring a fork to his workplace saved a life. Effectiveness is in a completely different realm from this.

Ali Soufan, an FBI special agent from 1997 to 2005, told the Senate subjudiciary committee that waterboarding was ineffective. Some CIA officers who were directly involved in the Abu Zubaydah interrogation agreed with Soufan; when interrogated normally, Soufan gave actionable information, but when coercive interrogation was used, Zubaydah stopped talking. After being submitted to coercive interrogation, Zubaydah (a 9/11 planner) was more reluctant to share information.[1] In this way, the waterboarding technique was not only ineffective but also detrimental to the operation. Soufan stated in a New York Times Op-Ed: "there 'was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn't, or couldn't have been, gained from regular tactics.'" [1]

Furthermore, A nearly three-year-long investigation by Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats found that little evidence supports the claim that waterboarding is effective. [2]

Re: 4: I disagree with the implementation of the rendition policy under the Obama Administration. However, its instatement does not justify its existence. Any claim stating otherwise would be putting forth an "is-ought fallacy." Just because something is just not mean that it ought to be. The opponent must argue that the administration is justified in doing this.

Let us remember that the CIA recoiled at the prospect of using waterboarding in the post-WWII era, and the United States prosecuted countries that implemented it during that time. [3]

The opponent states that "the alternative to waterboarding is rendition." This statement establishes a false dichotomy. There are other means of gathering information, such as interrogation, which has yet to be evidenced as less effective than waterboarding.


---


1: The opponent argues against the judgment of researchers, such as a Reed College professor who researched historical use of waterboarding. I am not in the position to defend the intricate details of the research, since I am not the one who conducted it; however, NUMEROUS studies suggest that serious, long-term psychological harm does occur.

A journalist for the Sun wrote his experiences of waterboarding. During waterboarding he felt like he was choking and about to drown and die. Lastly, he said that he would have said anything the interrogator wanted to hear just to make the torture stop. [4] This experience shows how unreliable and torturous this procedure is.

Journalists who get waterboarded tend to get waterboarded once and then call it quits. When one is repeatedly waterboarded (upwards of 50 times), as many tortured terrorists are, more damage is inflicted. Each time feels like drowning and a near-death experience.

2: If something sometimes works, it is not necessarily effective. And waterboarding's effectiveness has been discussed in a prior argument.

The possibility of saving lives justifies torture? Any action has the possibility to save lives, and every action can "sometimes work." I could urinate onto my friend's lap thinking that his discomfort is justifiable if my urinating had the potential to save lives. The opponent's notion of "morality" is more vague than one may think, and the line that can be drawn is vague, indeed. And the ethical calculations that led to the opponent's conclusion here have yet to be portrayed.

3: The use of waterboarding encourages terrorists to continue using violent techniques, with the justification of retaliation. Without waterboarding, perhaps terrorists would not be fueled with revenge-fuelled hate, and they would hence be able to be more open to negotations to release prisoners of war.

All in all, though, the use of waterboarding undermines the "moral legitimacy" that it has established for itself by making members of its own society doubt the moral foundation of the war against terrorism. Overall, the institution of "interrogation" is being delegitimized by the use of harsh methods of torture (e.g., waterboarding), especially due to their lack of evidential legitimacy.

The resolution is deemed null.

---


[1] http://articles.cnn.com...
[2] http://www.dailystar.com.lb...
[3] http://www.nytimes.com...
[4] http://www.thesun.co.uk...
Debate Round No. 3
RoyLatham

Pro

Waterboarding is used to collect life-saving information

Consider the following hypothetical: A nuclear weapon goes missing in Pakistan. The trail leads to New York City, and coded e-mails implicate a certain Pakistani national, identified as a member of al Qaeda, as instrumental in smuggling the bomb into the U.S. by landing it on an unprotected coast where it would be picked by up and transported by truck to an undisclosed location for detonation. A search warrant is obtained, and the New York terrorist is arrested. His computer files reveal his deep involvement in the plot, but some files cannot be decoded and the suspect refuses to talk, proclaiming that soon it will be too late to interrogate him.


Under present law, President Obama could choose to revoke his executive order and allow waterboarding in this case. here is no guarantee that water boarding would work, but there is significant probability that it would. There is no guarantee that if waterboarding works, that the bomb could be recovered before it is exploded. It's not likely, but possible, the terrorist might suffer permanent harm from the waterboarding. he resolution does not demand that the intransigent terrorist be waterboarded; it allows the President to make the tradeoff and to order waterboarding if that protecting the United States requires. The Con position is that waterboarding should never be used, and it should be illegal under all circumstances.

I provided a list of the types of information that could properly lead to a warrant for waterboarding. Con argued that the standards of absolute certainty should be used. I pointed out that absolute certainty is never used in law, because it is obviously unachievable. No person could ever be found guilty of anything, nor could wartime enemies ever be fought on any scale. Con did not justify his use of "absolute certainty" as the appropriate standard.

Waterboarding is effective.


Waterboarding is only used as a last resort. Only three of the 1500 GITMO terrorists were waterboarded. Con did not deny that it worked, revealing, for example, a plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge that would have killed a thousand innocent people. Con argues that even though it worked to save lives, that there is some definition of "effective' it does not meet. The only thing relevant is that at least sometimes it saves lives. Con's approach is so cite general opinions of the method being ineffective, while never contradicting the specific evidence of it working.

Con cites the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence committee as claimed there was, in there examination, no evidence that waterboarding was effective. Con's cited source reveals that the reason Republicans did not participate in the hearings was that it was known at the outset that the important evidence and witnesses would not be available to the Committee because it remained secret at the time. Democrats decided to proceed even though they knew the evidence would not be presented. They then concluded what they knew at the outset, that they didn't have the evidence. They did have opinion of all e Preceding CIA director's,starting with George Tennet, who President Bush retained from the Clinton Administration. Thus excluded from "evidence" were the opinions of the people most likely to know all the facts.

Con argued that people will confess to anything under waterboarding. that's why waterboarding is never to be used to extract confessions. The purpose is to collect actionable information to save lives. Informants. whether waterboarded or not, often provide false information. The important fact is that good information is also produced, and it is verified by the security agencies.

There is little or no danger of permanent harm to the subject

In the opening round, I quoted the definition of waterboarding used by the CIA. The CIA method uses simulated drowning it which water is not taken into the body. Con cited a study of waterboarding practiced in past history in which the person was actually drowned, with water taken into the lungs. In the last round, Con again referenced an example of waterboarding using actual drowning rather than the CIA method.

there is plenty of experience with the CIA waterboarding techniques. Thousands of U.S. special forces and CIA agents have been subjected to the technique as part of their training. There is also a small number of journalists who have volunteered as subjects. Not a single case of permanent harm is know. None of the terrorists has suffered permanent harm.

The study Con cited was not the CIA technique, and we don't know what else the subjects endured. Are we to believe that historically, as practiced by the Chinese and North Koreans, their prisoners were only under medically supervised simulated drowning and nothing else? Con said there were other studies, but he didn't cite any.

The only alternative is rendition

Terrorists could choose to avoid waterboarding All they would have to do is sign on to the Geneva convention's or independently negotiate an agreement to obey the conventional rules of warfare. Giving up the practice of cutting off journalist heads on television is too much for them to accept.

I claim that no moral person would accept the probable death of thousands of innocent people if harsh interrogation of a terrorist offered a chance of saving them. If waterboarding is illegal, the only avenue for a moral president to use is turning the terrorist over to another country for the harsh interrogation. President Clinton used rendition, and President Bush allowed waterboarding as a more humane and more reliable alternative. President Obama has kept the alternative of rendition alive. Waterboarding is both more humane and more reliable.

Con said it was a false dichotomy, but it's a real dichotomy for a moral person. The escape is to care more about the terrorist than the innocent people.

Terrorists are already terrorists

I challenged Con to say what KSM would do that was worse than cutting off heads of television. He didn't say. Con pointed to cases of indiscriminate use of torture. That's not what the resolution affirms. It's critical that all the safeguards be maintained, and especially that use of harsh interrogation could be stopped by subscribing to the conventional rules of warfare. What Con described was two sides both dominated by terrorist mentality.

In any case, the President should be allowed to evaluate the tradeoffs of the information potentially gained versus potential downside of publicity. That cannot be done if a law against waterboarding is illegal. If hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake from a nuclear weapon, the downside of publicity will lose every time.


Waterboarding will never be a common practice, just as it was only used on three ITMO detainees. The safeguards will ensure that it will only be used when the odds favor saving lives. Terrorists renounce all civil behavior, so it's a modest countermeasure when it's the moral choice. The resolution is affirmed.
InVinoVeritas

Con

Re: 1:

My argument regarding "certainty" was strictly in regards to the "ticking time bomb" scenario, which is the topic for the opponent's first argument. It was solely to convey the idea that such a hypothetical scenario is extremely improbable.

Solely for the sake of reinforcing the gist of my argument, I will add this statement from Georgetown University Law Professor David Cole: “You can’t know whether a person knows where the bomb is, or even if they’re telling the truth. Because of this, you end up going down a slippery slope and sanctioning torture in general.” [1]

Indeed, this hypothetical assumes that all of the unknowns that play into the equation (such as bomb location, time of detonation, and whether or not the terrorist is aware of information) are not only clear, but also known with great certainty. Although, we see such scenarios on the television sitcom 24, a real-life event of this nature would most likely not take place.

Re: 2:

Waterboarding is not effective, even as a last resort.

I emphasize the example that I had given in an earlier argument about Ibn al Shaykh al Libbi. Libbi, after being subjected to torture, stated that there was a connection between Al Qaida, Saddam Hussein, and weapons of mass destruction. This was used as a basis for the war in Iraq, where weapons of mass destruction were never found. Waterboarding causes those subjected to simply say whatever they think the torturers (or, as one might call them, investigators) would like to hear, simply to avoid the feeling of drowning. The negative ramifications of this can be large-scale, such as the war in Iraq.

Also, I would like to emphasize the case of Abu Zubaydah, a 9/11 terrorist who cooperated more when normal tactics were used than when waterboarding was used. Waterboarding took away from the operation, according to Ali Soufan, a special agent in the CIA. (See Round 3)

Re: 3:

As I stated before, CIA agents and journalists under FAR fewer cycles of waterboarding than terrorists. Terrorists oftentimes undergo hundreds of cycles for investigators to extract information. And each cycle enables the potential for permanent harm to accumulate.

I have cited numerous authorities in the fields of medicine and psychology, experts in their fields, who stated that there is potential for severe psychological harm that is long-term. Those who have treated victims of long-term waterboarding exposure see many anxiety-related symptoms, such as fears of taking a shower (due to a fear of being submerged under water) or running (due to a fear of shortness of breath.)

Indubitably, there is substantial psychological harm that can be associated with waterboarding.

Re: 4:

The opponent never provided a source that confirmed that terrorists can simply sign a Geneva convention document to avoid waterboarding. And I could not find a source that confirmed it, so this statement is simply unconfirmed.

The opponent then provided a moral argument: "no moral person would accept the probable death of thousands of innocent people if harsh interrogation of a terrorist offered a chance of saving them." As I had stated before, the opponent oversimplifies the ethical calculations involved in this situation. His logic is founded on the overly simplistic idea that it is possible that thousands of lives would be saved as a direct result of torture. However, such logic does not stand.

Any action has the potential to prevent another action, but this potential does not justify the initial action. If I tackled a person solely for the purpose of preventing a murderous rampage, there would have to be strong evidence suggesting that my tackling would in fact, directly, avoid the rampage. Otherwise, it would be unjustified. And, it is impossible to say that it is probable that the means (torture) would directly lead to the desired ends (e.g., ending bomb crisis), since waterboarding usually is ineffective and simply leads to the small possibility of good results.

1: I have established my conclusions about long-term negative psychological impact in "Re: 3"

2: I have established my conclusions about this point in "Re: 2"

3: Something worse? All right. KSM could have shoved rusty staples in his eyes and brutally sodomized him with hammer and nails. Then, he could have beaten his face into a pulp using a steel-toed boot until the reporter died.

But, more relevant to this argument, KSM's killing of Daniel Pearl is a single example of acts of terror. Oftentimes, terrorists let captives go in return for money and other influences. Their willingness to compromise and let hostages go would be lowered if more brutal techniques were upheld by the US government. This shift in attitudes toward POW's was expressed in my previous argument.

The president should not be given the right to arbitrate whether or not waterboarding should be allowed. When we consider the assumed impact of "hundreds of lives at risk" and the assumed ability of acquiring information through waterboarding rather than other means, we see that this is a slippery slope that allows torture for a purpose that has no clear grounds.

---

The act of torture known as waterboarding should be illegal in the United States. The resolution is deemed null.

Many thanks to Roy for participating. I strongly urge a vote for Con.

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[1] http://progressive.org...




Debate Round No. 4
26 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
Waterboarding was used on three terrorists. Terrorists are only asked for information that can be verified, so giving false info doesn't work. Uncovered plans obtained by waterboarding to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge and a target in Los Angeles were verified.
Posted by benjamaison 4 years ago
benjamaison
When it comes down to it, i see this debate as pertaining to whether the use of torture is justified in the search of critical information. The only problem lies in the information gathered through this method. The human body, as many may know, does not like to be subjected to pain or discomfort and thus takes steps to avoid or stop it. This piggy backs on the human reaction to torture. When being influenced by physical pain, humans will do or say anything to stop it. This leads to false confessions and prisoners basically telling the interrogator what he wants to here just to make the pain and suffering end. When you think about the men we used water boarding techniques on, not taking into account the monsters that they were, how many times did they feed interrogator random information, credible or otherwise, just to make it stop. Say one of the close leaders to Osama had no true knowledge of any big attacks coming up. Do you think the CIA would stop, NO. They would continue on and on, extracting everything little bit of information the victim has, regardless of how credible it is. They would not believe he knew nothing and thus would force lies out of him just to get any information. Brain damage, you can be sure, would follow this procedure because of duration, regardless of the presence of a nearby physician.
Posted by InVinoVeritas 4 years ago
InVinoVeritas
Apparently, italics don't work in comment sections.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
A debate? What a radical idea!

Unsupported claims do not need to be refuted. Sinisteria is using what is called <i>Bellman Logic</i>, named for the character in the <i>Hunting of the Snark</i> who proclaimed, "Anything I say three times is true."
Posted by InVinoVeritas 4 years ago
InVinoVeritas
Maybe you guys should have a debate? Lol.
Posted by sinisteria 4 years ago
sinisteria
I read what you wrote about the procdure and it's wrong. The subject is recined with his chest above his head and his head tilted back. The stadard procedure is to cover the mouth and pour water down the nostrils until the trachea fills with water but since the chest is above the head the lungs do not usually get much ater in them. That procedure under a doctor's supervision s how it is carried out and is much more terrifying and dangerous than the procedure you describe. Lengthy waterboarding does cause brain damage as oxygen deprivation beyonda certain time and carried out for some time is damaging to the brain. I woner where you get your information and questioning whether read your debate is misdirection. On the other subject what intel or procedure do you think they used to gather up all those alleged terrorists? Bounties were paid to turn in people for what in their country is a fortune. Many people in no way associated with terrorism were imprisoned and tortured for years by American soldiers. Suppose even one terroist was captured besides ksm. What type of useful information could be obtained from these low level people? Even the method you describe where respiration is held for thirty seconds and then two or three breaths allowed will cause some brain damage in short order. Do you think the military hired research level doctors to study this issue? Any doctor with research level training would never be associated with these types of shady things. I suggest you be more informed next time you take on a debate because what you're talking about is not even remotely approaching reality.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
sinisteria, Did you read the debate? There are substantial differences in the way that the CIA practiced waterboarding and the historical usage that involved actually drowning people then reviving them. The evidence is linked in the debate. Your claims are unsubstantiated and false, as are you claims of mass false imprisonment.

The reason waterboarding is terrifying is that it provokes the automatic response to drowning, even though the person is not taking in any water. When KSM was waterboarded, he was usually exposed to the procedure for less than 30 seconds.
Posted by sinisteria 4 years ago
sinisteria
The instigator fails to know the procedure of waterboarding. If the procedure as claimed only slightly impedes respiration there would be no confession. It is often carried in fact to the point of unconsciousness and a doctor revives the subject only to have the procedure started again. It often causes brain damage from oxygen deprivation. The U.S. put flyers everywhere in places they were searching for al quaeda promising enough money for life for turning in a suspect. Well the vast majority captured had no ties to terrorism and were subjected to the cruelest forms of torture. Now if you argue 99 people are expendable for the one terrorist piece of information something's wrong. I don't buy the argument that the presence of waterboarding as a tool will somehow prevent a doomsday scenario. It of course should be banned. There are smarter ways to protect human life than resort to the dumb method of torturing hordes of people or even one.
Posted by hendrixas 4 years ago
hendrixas
waterboarding was only used on 3 people, all of whom were close to osama bin laden

Although little credible evidence was likely obtained due to the fact osama bin ladens trail went cold, i feel little sympathy for such monsters and have NO arguments against it.

Many argue it is a military procedure, but its NOT the main torture devise............the prison scandal in Iraq and abuse of detanees in afghanistan are MUCH worse
Posted by InVinoVeritas 4 years ago
InVinoVeritas
"Pro's morality argument was very strong"? AlwaysMoreThanYou, did you read this debate?
10 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's morality argument was very strong, and Con's certainty argument was rebutted. Pro showed waterboarding less harsh than alternatives, and that Con's examples were from a less safe type of waterboarding.
Vote Placed by phantom 4 years ago
phantom
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Reasons for voting decision: Con couldn't really refute #1 very well. As roy said "Certainty is never used as a legal standard, because certainty is never attainable." I find the moral aspect of roys argument appealing. Is it morally right to let innocent people die just so as to save a terrorist from water boarding?Con brought up examples of water boarding being used which were contrary to what the CIA use. Pro also showed that terrorists are conditioned to experience water boarding and thus will be less likely to experien
Vote Placed by ScottyDouglas 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro had more convincing arguement. Con had better resources.
Vote Placed by Double_R 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro gave 3 specific examples of waterboarding saving lives. Cons rebuttal that any method can theoretically work was not enough not refute Pros main point here that waterboarding is potentially effective. With Pros point established, Con needed to show how the downfalls of waterboarding justified disregarding a potential method of saving lives which his arguments failed to accomplish. The Iraq example was invalid, because that is not the type of scenario Pro was referring.
Vote Placed by MouthWash 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro pointed out that no criminal would be convicted if 100 proof were required, refuting the uncertainty argument. He also stated that waterboarding was used as a last resort and that Con was referencing a different type. These were all ignored by Con. Con's 5th source in Round Two is so ridiculous I am forced to give Pro sources.
Vote Placed by cherrytree 4 years ago
cherrytree
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Reasons for voting decision: con had more sources that supported his argument and i think he used them more effectively then pro. and con proved that the foundation for pro's argument wasn't valid so arguments to him for that.
Vote Placed by Aaronroy 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro rendition contention is an utter false premise. Con has better framework to his arguments but needs to choose his sources better.
Vote Placed by TUF 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con's most convincing point was that waaterboarded subjects would say anything to escape which Pro adequately counters saying that false information could be obtained with or without waterboarding. Pro's main contention - saving innocent lives vs temporary discomfort wasn't adequately refuted by Con.
Vote Placed by CiRrK 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Comments