The Corner

Pelosi’s Implicit Verdict on Waterboarding

Charles Krauthammer (web briefing) makes an excellent point today. Pelosi’s tacit approval of waterboarding tells us something important about it–it exists in a gray area that’s not clearly torture. If Pelosi were told that the CIA had been, or was planning to start, pulling out fingernails and breaking bones, wouldn’t she have found some way to cause a fuss because that would so clearly have constituted torture?  Anyway, here is Charles:

My critics say: So what if Pelosi is a hypocrite? Her behavior doesn’t change the truth about torture.

But it does. The fact that Pelosi (and her intelligence aide) and then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss and dozens of other members of Congress knew about the enhanced interrogation and said nothing, and did nothing to cut off the funding, tells us something very important.

Our jurisprudence has the “reasonable man” standard. A jury is asked to consider what a reasonable person would do under certain urgent circumstances.

On the morality of waterboarding and other “torture,” Pelosi and other senior and expert members of Congress represented their colleagues, and indeed the entire American people, in rendering the reasonable person verdict. What did they do? They gave tacit approval. In fact, according to Goss, they offered encouragement. Given the circumstances, they clearly deemed the interrogations warranted.


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