Abe, the caterpillar was never deployed but the report has set off a round of entirely expected wailing from all of the usual quarters. One wonders precisely what has them so apoplectic. It is not as if their ire is confined to waterboarding. Reasonable minds, I think, can differ on that one.
But they are apparently aghast by actions such as “slapping detainee’s face with fingers slightly spread” and “striking the abdomen with the back of an open hand.” They are mortified by “water dousing” — cold water poured on the detainee.” We are not talking about beating, kicking, starving, gouging, maiming, or any other activity which the term “torture” conjures up. We are talking about using these techniques under hyper-controlled circumstances, for a very limited group of people who are thought to have information that relates to a risk that Americans will die. (Even waterboarding is to be used only in the face of an “imminent attack,” with “substantial and credible indicators” that we can prevent or delay the attack and when other means of obtaining the information have failed.) And we shouldn’t do that or even slap someone on the chin “with fingers slightly spread” to save one or a hundred or a thousand Americans?
So now we will no longer slap and we will tell terrorist that we will not slap. Their minds can be put at ease. They won’t, like the football coach, be doused by a bucket of water and they need not fear that they might. We seem to have given up any pretense that we take the interrogation process seriously or comprehend the value of keeping our options open. Or is there some hidden loophole allowing the president to preen but reserving the right to chin-slap, just in case we grab someone who might provide a lead that would save dozens or hundreds of lives? If it comes down to that, let’s hope the president is a horrid hypocrite.