Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Torture, Mississippi Style

Guess where they once used a form of the "water cure"? Jim Crow Mississippi. That probably comes as no surprise. But guess where the practice was outlawed as being barbaric? Also in Jim Crow Mississippi, in the case Fisher v. State, 110 So. 361, 362 (Miss. 1926). From the blog Is That Legal (With a hat tip to Andrew Sullivan:
Waterboarding, known ironically in earlier times as "the water cure", remains -- in the view of this administration and many supporters -- not torture. And if it's not torture, then it's not cruel and unusual punishment or a violation of due process.

But here's the rub.

In 1926, the Mississippi Supreme Court called the water cure torture. No qualifiers. No hedging. Just plain, good ol' fashion torture . . . and therefore a forbidden means for securing a confession. These men were hardly a group I'd call *activist* or *liberal* and certainly not bent on subverting our country in the name of coddling criminals.

I'm just not certain what case there is justifying these sorts of measures. I think that the United States can withstand bad foreign policy. I'm not certain for how long we can withstand engaging in practices that even repellent regimes have found to be repellent. It's unnecessary. It does not make us safer. It does not provide us with actionable intelligence. And it violates the very principles that are supposed to separate ourselves from our enemies. I can see no defense for waterboarding and similar practices and I do not know why anyone would try to do so.

No comments: