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Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Dana Milbank gives us an historical overview of 'waterboarding" from the Inquisition through Pol Pot's Cambodia to the CIA today.

And it's all historically interesting. But like anything, the use of terms changes over time.

At one time, a "Liberal" was a person who wanted small, non-intrusive government. Today, the opposite is true.

At one time, Fascist and Communist governments were allies, and invaded Poland together. Today we are told they were polar opposites. What is the truth?

One example of waterboarding given by Milbank:
a prostrate man having his nose pinched and water poured down his throat. Nearby, a woodcut showed an executioner from the Spanish Inquisition spraying a hose into an inverted woman's mouth. Across the room: another painting of a torture scene and a photo of the torture implements.

So is that what we are doing?

Or how about this:
Another water-torture survivor, Henri Alleg, called in from France. Alleg has written a book about being tortured by the French in Algeria describing how a wooden wedge was put in his mouth and water poured in. He lost consciousness and one of his interrogators "was hitting my stomach with his fist to make me throw out the water I had swallowed."

"They went on with electricity, burning with torches of paper, and so on,"

If Milbank is to be believed, this is what the CIA has been doing ... using
a weapon perfected by Torquemada

What is Dan Milbank saying? While the article is probably a fair summary of the meeting he attended, I don't believe that the groups sponsoring this event planned to give an evenhanded account of interrogation techniques. The references to the Inquisition are simply an appeal to emotion.

Milbanks states:
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition
But then goes out of his way to suggest that is exactly what is happening. It's dishonest and repulsive, and par for the course.

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