It was reported this week that CIA interrogators waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times.
At least KSM was more than a mere suspect (unlike many of the other victims of American torture), since he confessed that he was the mastermind of 9/11. But after the first half dozen or so instances, the CIA interrogators were surely just getting their jollies at KSM’s expense.
Here’s John McCain, who suffered torture in Vietnam, reacting to this week’s news:
I applaud Senator McCain for being so plain-spoken where other commentators use weasel words. Waterboarding is torture. Waterboarding someone even once is too often. The torture of detainees has made America less secure, not more secure.
I disagree with Senator McCain when he criticizes President Obama for releasing the torture memos. Our government established a torture regime, and actually tortured individuals who in some cases were innocent — that’s not the sort of issue you just sweep under the rug. It smacks of “my country, right or wrong.”
I don’t even like President Obama’s habit of referring to the practice of torture as “a mistake”. I agree that it didn’t serve America’s best interests. But “mistake” implies that President Bush and Vice President Cheney didn’t mean to torture anyone — Whoops!
On the contrary, this was premeditated: a careful policy, crafted several years after 9/11, when sufficient time had passed that no one should have been motivated by blind panic.
The Bush Administration must be held accountable. If that means prosecution in a court of law, so be it. But, at the very least, they should be held accountable in the court of public opinion, after their deeds have been exposed to the cold light of day.
Remember: “the buck stops here“.