Last night on Hardball, when discussing why he was opposed to bringing Gitmo detainees over to a supermax prison in Thomson, Illinois, freshman Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) defended the use of waterboarding on detainees — with a slight twist.
Schock: “I would not limit our intelligence agencies’ ability to get information from people. If they have a ticking time-bomb or some critical piece of information that can save American lives, I don’t believe that we should limit waterboarding or quite frankly any other alternative torture technique, if it means saving Americans’ lives.”
For the moment, leaving aside Schock’s boilerplate right-wing justifications for why he believes waterboarding is a good thing, I will give him a small, small modicum of credit for admitting what Dick Cheney will not — that waterboarding does, in fact, constitute torture. I would even argue that Schock went one step further than even NPR, whose ombudsman Alicia Shepherd explicitly banned the use of the word “torture” when referring to waterboarding or other brutal interrogation methods authorized by the Bush Administration.
That said, Schock still has no idea what the hell he’s talking about, and calling it torture instead of “enhanced interrogation techniques” is mostly a cosmetic change when he’s still advocating for a reprehensible method of interrogating detainees. He engages in the same denialism that Cheney does by stating earlier in the interview that “there have been no torture techniques, no alternative interrogation techniques, nothing negative in a bad way has happened at Guantanamo Bay,” despite the evidence from multiple reports that say otherwise. He also justifies the use of torture with the “ticking time bomb” theory, even though counterterrorism experts have roundly debunked that scenario as a myth, and the fact that torture does not yield accurate or reliable information anyway (to say nothing of the evil and moral repugnance of the practice itself).
Still, while I doubt this young Republican’s admission will have any appreciable effect on the public’s opinion of torture (which, sadly, is supported either “often” or “sometimes” by a majority of Americans, including 47% of Democrats), Schock’s words do clearly illuminate exactly what right-wingers are cheerleading. If only every major media outlet would muster up the same honesty to call torture precisely what it is and the courage to unequivocally condemn anyone who supports it.
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