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GOTT-November 05, 2006

Hot Air, Indeed (Updated 11/16)

In an earlier post, I expressed the wish that media outlets would do reports to inform us better about the various methods of torture the US is/might be using.  Well, credit where credit is due: Steve Harrigan has presented what I found to be a very informative report on waterboarding on Fox News. He even volunteered to have some of the technique (the first three of what he calls the five phases (the phases get progressively more intense)) tried on him.

Unfortunately, I can’t find the complete transcript or a video of the report on the Fox News site; all I’ve found is this rather incomplete page.  (If someone finds more complete information, I would appreciate being told by e-mail.  I’m not allowing comments on this post b/c I won’t be able to monitor them today.)  Update 11/16: This Fox News web page now includes links to a fairly complete set of videos.  (This has probably been the case for a while, but I only checked back today.)

A small bit of the video is here on a web site called “Hot Air,” which seems to have been founded by Michelle Malkin.  That seems to be the site everyone is linking to for video of this report.  I link to that site because you might want to get a look at the video.  [Update 11/16: You can now get more complete video at the Fox News page linked to above, so I’d suggest using that instead.]  But I want to warn you about — and complain about — the Hot Air web post that the video is in.  The point the poster (“Allahpundit”) is looking to make is that Harrigan was fine afterwards. And many in the blogosphere who are mentioning the report and linking to the Hot Air site, at least as of now, are using the video to argue the point that waterboarding isn’t that bad, and we shouldn’t hesitate to use it.  (See also the comments on the Hot Air post, below the video.)

But the video on “Hot Air” is only a small part of what I saw on Fox News.  In particular, the video doesn’t include the parts where we’re told that Harrigan has a system worked out so that all he has to do is squeeze the hands of the guys waterboarding him & they’ll stop right away, and where he explains that there are five phases (at least I think I remember him mentioning that there are five — I haven’t been able to verify that) that get increasingly more intense, and that he only does the first three. I get the impression that FNC has showed the report, or at least parts of it, repeatedly.  Perhaps FNC sometimes only shows a part of what I saw, and what’s on Hot Air was a shorter version edited by FNC.  Or maybe the Hot Air poster edited it.  In any case, to not even metion in the post the information about Harrigan being able to stop the treatment any time he wants and about there being further more intense phases that we’re not shown, and then to use the short-version video to make a “See, it’s not that bad” point is slimy.

You’ll notice that Harrigan lasts only a few seconds in phase three.  So, he’s fine very quickly afterward.  Do you want to conclude on that basis that “It’s not so bad” for those who can’t stop it any time they want to by squeezing the hands of their torturers, and who undergo for a much longer time what Harrigan couldn’t stand for more than a few seconds?  What can people be thinking when they come away from that video concluding that w-b-ing “isn’t so bad” and that it isn’t torture?  I mean, once they get going, Harrigan lasts only a couple of seconds in phase 3.  Are people thinking something like “Well, if it was really bad, he wouldn’t have lasted that long”?  How fast would he have had to call it off for them to reach other conclusions?

I should say that I also saw someone else on Fox News talking with Harrigan, and when they asked him whether waterboarding was torture, I remember him responding in a very definite positive way — *something* like: Yes, I don’t know what else you could call it.  But I haven’t been able to find a transcript on that either.

I wonder whether all the brave and tough commentators & bloggers think the US was way out of line in WWII in how we treated the waterboarding done by our enemies?

UPDATE (11/5, 2:40 PM Eastern): FNC now has a little video up on their site.  It’s a bit different from what’s on Hot Air, though with some overlap.  It turns out I remembered *pretty* well what Harrigan said; in response to “Do you believe that this technique amounts to torture? You’ve experienced it,” he says: “I can’t see how you could call it anything else. I mean, it’s torturous.

Posted by Keith DeRose in Current Affairs | Permalink

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