Let the Eagle Soak
November 28, 2007 7:09 PM   Subscribe

John Ashcroft stands up to prove waterboarding isn't torture, by offering to lie down for his own waterboarding. Well, that is, he offers he'd do it if it were necessary, and if he could survive the torture. Is that a brave offer, an admission that US has resulted in deaths, or both? Daniel Levin, one of Ashcroft's subordinates at the Department of Justice, went further, actually undergoing waterboarding himself. He survived it -- but his career didn't, after he he concluded torture was "abhorrent".

Is John Ashcroft sincere? My respect for him greatly increased after he rejected authorizing an illegal form of surveillance despite being hounded on his sick-bed by Alberto Gonzales, and many people (including me) believe him to be an honorable man. So let's see what he has to say after being waterboarded. Or would even former Attorney General John Ashcroft "admit" to being an Al-Qaeda during the waterboarding, just to get it to stop?
posted by orthogonality (43 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is there a line yet?
*queues up*
posted by Smedleyman at 7:16 PM on November 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


It'd be just another annointin' for Ashcroft. If you want to torture him, just show him marble female statue breasts. He wouldn't last a minute.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:17 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Benny Andajetz writes "just show him marble female statue breasts"

Or calico cats?

But seriously, Ashcroft is a good Christian and, after Comey's testimony, I believe a honorable man. I'm quote serious: he should undergo waterboarding, and tell us about his experience.
posted by orthogonality at 7:22 PM on November 28, 2007


Ashcroft is only honorable in a relative sense, like relative to, say, Satan, or perhaps Gonzales. Let's not forget his work to champion the Patriot Act.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:24 PM on November 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


I can't wait to use this on my Neo-con Ex-father in law. ( He's my wife's ex-step father, after her mother divorced him.)
He's the biggest apologist since Bush took office, loves and defends everything that has happened domestically and internationally.

I thought of having an interrogation visit the next time he decides to come up.
I already know what he believes, He already knows what I believe. I just want to water board (piss board) him until he tells me where the WMD's are in Iraq. He seemed to be pretty sure before the invasion, and derided me.

I'm sure I can get the info from him.

It's not illegal, right?
posted by Balisong at 7:25 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well, that is, he offers he'd do it if it were necessary, and if he could survive the torture.

1) It never will be "necessary", as far as he's concerned.

2) He might not survive it.

Don't think of Ashcroft is suddenly honorable because he stood up to Gonzo's hounding. The fact that some of our proto-fascists behave with a certain level of professionalism doesn't mean that they're the good guys.

The more I think about it, the more I wonder if this whole waterboarding fiasco is only going to be sorted out when some local cops get busted for doing it to their prisoners. Or maybe a jilted husband doing it to his wife. What crime would they (the cops and the husband) be charged with? Probably kidnapping for the husband -- but would waterboarding be considered an assault as well? What about the cops? If the DOJ approves of waterboarding as a interrogation/punishment technique, doesn't that make it fair game for local law enforcement as well?

What about prisoner discipline? Could a prison warden use this as a means to control his charges? Why not? Eventually, as in all things, it'll trickle down to the local level, and the lawsuits will start flying. At that point, we'll have posts about it here on metafilter (YOUTUBE VIDEO OF COPS WATERBOARDING TEEN!!!) and get comments like "lol run faster next time hippie. rofl."
posted by Avenger at 7:25 PM on November 28, 2007 [9 favorites]


With the writer strike still underway, I fully expect next spring to see Howie Mandell hosting "Torture or No Torture" where each week contestants are subjected to waterboarding and the longer they can last the more money they can rack up, but if they allow themselves to die live on national television, their jackpot is carried over to the next contestant.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:27 PM on November 28, 2007


...I mean think about it! What kinda torture would you personally be willing to tolerate for say, $50K? Maybe having your fingernails pulled wouldn't be worth it, but a little friendly waterboarding would surely be worth $50K. Eating gross stuff worked for Fear Factor, as did multiple ways of simulating drowning for contestants. I think "Torture or No Torture" would be the biggest Nielsens hit since Survivor!
posted by ZachsMind at 7:33 PM on November 28, 2007


ZachsMind, we've almost been there before.
posted by pupdog at 7:37 PM on November 28, 2007


He's an order of magnitude more honorable than Fredo.
posted by caddis at 7:37 PM on November 28, 2007


I haven't read the links yet, but I love the title of this post.
posted by lekvar at 7:37 PM on November 28, 2007


He's an order of magnitude more honorable than Fredo.

Fredo is inversely more smoochable, though.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:40 PM on November 28, 2007


He's still a piece of shit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:42 PM on November 28, 2007


I think Dick Cheney needs to be at the head of the line.
posted by 45moore45 at 7:43 PM on November 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


Thanks to the new Bush-approved stem cells, I look forward to a not-too-distant time when governments can rip off people's fingernails and get rats to eat their livers, secure in the knowledge that massive organ damage can be, you know, reversed with a few dabs of Magic Stem Away™, no permanent organ damage will be done, and so no net torture can actually be said to have occurred.
posted by meehawl at 7:45 PM on November 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


He's an order of magnitude more honorable than Fredo.

Yeah, but how can we get them both into the boat with Al Neri by the end of the movie?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:56 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


He's an order of magnitude more honorable than Fredo.

I read that as "Frodo," and I thought, "What does this guy have against halflings?!"
posted by papakwanz at 8:13 PM on November 28, 2007


With the writer strike still underway, I fully expect next spring to see Howie Mandell hosting "Torture or No Torture" where each week contestants are subjected to waterboarding and the longer they can last the more money they can rack up, but if they allow themselves to die live on national television, their jackpot is carried over to the next contestant.

They already did that show, it was called Fear Factor.
posted by delmoi at 8:23 PM on November 28, 2007


No one should be subjected to this torture. Not even Ashcroft.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 8:33 PM on November 28, 2007


lekvar writes "I haven't read the links yet, but I love the title of this post."

Honor requires me to acknowledge that I stole that from a reddit comment that stole it from somewhere else.
posted by orthogonality at 8:47 PM on November 28, 2007


"The things that I can survive, if it were necessary to do them to me, I would do"
Huh?

"I would do" what? "I would get waterboarded"? If it were "necessary"?

If it were necessary for John Ashcroft to be waterboarded, John Ashcroft would be waterboarded?

Who does he think is deciding it's "necessary" for him to get waterboarded? Does he think that he gets to decide that?

If President Bush or some other torturer decides that it's "necessary" for John Ashcroft to get waterboarded, no shit John Ashcroft's going to get waterboarded. Just like everyone else. And Ashcroft isn't going to have much of a say in the matter.
posted by Flunkie at 8:53 PM on November 28, 2007


If President Bush or some other torturer decides that it's "necessary" for John Ashcroft to get waterboarded, no shit John Ashcroft's going to get waterboarded. Just like everyone else.

OK, someone fails to understand political power here.
posted by caddis at 9:30 PM on November 28, 2007


Ashcroft knows what he's doing. He fully understands, I guarantee you, that waterboarding is not waterboarding unless there's the threat of the unknown. No one's going to kill, seriously threaten to kill, or "damage" Ashcroft during this experiment, so the full, real effect of the torture mechanism won't be revealed.
posted by Mikey-San at 9:46 PM on November 28, 2007


No one should be subjected to this torture. Not even Ashcroft.

Way to pretend to take the high road.
posted by sourwookie at 11:11 PM on November 28, 2007


I fully expect next spring to see Howie Mandell hosting "Torture or No Torture"

That'd be almost as sweet as climbing for dollars

We can always hope, right? That's the way things are headed anyway...
posted by barc0001 at 11:41 PM on November 28, 2007


Only if it's followed up with a sound tasing.
posted by Sphinx at 11:44 PM on November 28, 2007


No one's going to kill, seriously threaten to kill, or "damage" Ashcroft during this experiment, so the full, real effect of the torture mechanism won't be revealed.

Trie, but even the "pretend" version seems to be so repulsive to those who are on the receiving end that a good number of them emerge from it saying it's torture, even if they didn't think it was going in.

Kinda like when you were at the pool with a bunch of classmates when you were young, and that dick held you underwater for a bit longer than was comfortable. You KNOW intellectually he wasn't REALLY going to drown you as he'd be in deep shit, but at that instant you're still underwater and out of air and your fight-or-flight panic kicks in and you'll do ANYTHING just to get above the surface. I would imagine that "pretend" controlled waterboarding is at least that bad, and probably quite a bit more, seeing as the adrenaline boost won't help you when you're strapped down.

Real waterboarding would of course be much worse as there is no guarantee that if you died anyone would care.
posted by barc0001 at 11:50 PM on November 28, 2007


This is/would be a stunt and nothing else. Everyone knows an interrogation technique that involves pushing the subject's head under water is not going to operate by the liquid magically dissolving his resistance to cooperate. It works through pain or threat of death, or at the very least great discomfort so great that using a word as banal as "discomfort" to describe it feels dishonest.

Using such a trick to get someone to talk could only work if it actually was torture. It sounds like begging the question, but it's not.
posted by JHarris at 12:24 AM on November 29, 2007


I don't know -- part of the problem is that 'waterboarding' sounds like such fun, like the kind of thing you do with friends and beer, bikini'd girls out on the lake on a warm summer day, the smell of outboard exhaust and BBQ in the air. Hey, dude, let's go waterboarding!

Now if we called it neardeathing or forcechoking or droogdrowning or something, things might be different.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:03 AM on November 29, 2007 [4 favorites]


Are they trying to make us support torture by giving a free try on Ashcroft? Sly move but no.
posted by ersatz at 4:06 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


What if everyone in America had a chance to waterboard Ashcroft? He could travel across the country in the Waterboarding Bus.
You could sell T-shirts," Ashcroft's Torture Tour '08"
posted by Balisong at 5:53 AM on November 29, 2007


Good post, great title.
posted by googly at 6:38 AM on November 29, 2007


Mikey-san makes the essential point.

It's not merely the (apparently horrible) physical sensation of simulated drowning that makes waterboarding torture-- it's being in the hands of enemy captors whose intentions you don't know.

So, torture yourself, if it makes you happy, Mr. Ashcroft (don't forget your two wetsuits!), but it really won't prove anything about anything.
posted by ibmcginty at 7:16 AM on November 29, 2007


I agree that waterboarding is a name that is clearly designed to sound not bad, hell it sounds like a fun easy sport. It's waterboarding because it involves water and might involve a board? Let's call the rack wheel boarding! Then it would be ok. We could say it is stretching, you know like yoga. We can call the electric chair the 'power throne' and death by hanging 'necking'.

It is torture by drowning, 'drowning torture'. You are using the fact that people really don't like drowning to torture them. I'd just call it drowning but it is the odd case where adding the word torture to a phrase makes it less severe, because we aren't drowning people to death (usually) just to torture them. Waterboarding is an Orwellian phrase that sane people shouldn't bother with it. This existed before it was called waterboarding, and they changed the name with the intent of making it sound less horrible. It is not waterboarding, it is not simulated drowning, it is real drowning for the purpose of torture.
posted by I Foody at 7:16 AM on November 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh, Avenger also made the same point on another thread.
posted by ibmcginty at 7:23 AM on November 29, 2007


If you have water in your lungs, how is the drowning "simulated"?
posted by signal at 7:53 AM on November 29, 2007


I've always wondered that.
posted by anthill at 8:17 AM on November 29, 2007


If you have water in your lungs, how is the drowning "simulated"?

His point was that torture isn't real torture until you have lost all control of the outcome. No one will be trying to threaten Ashcroft with death (whether he complies or not, which is key), so it's basically a diorama on torture rather than a demonstration of it.
posted by Mikey-San at 8:32 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Mikey-san makes the essential point.

Right. Its like saying 'Look I can't tickle myself, so obviously tickling is fake.'
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:48 AM on November 29, 2007


Jeez is there any question about whether this is torture in the mind of any rational person? Ashcroft implicitly admits, in his comments at the U of C, that there is a chance that waterboarding may be fatal - but still not sure if it's torture.

If some kid was doing this to a puppy, is there any question that it's a clear case of animal cruelty? Would anyone doubt that it's torture?

Fuck these sanctimonious pigs; Jesus would not condone the water-boarding of anyone under any circumstances, but these Good Christian Men think it's OK.

NOTE: I'm not Christian, also [NOT CHRISTIANIST]
posted by Mister_A at 9:28 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


When I read these things, I'm always half-tempted to set up a booth at the RNC Convention where you could pay $50, get waterboarded, and get a free t-shirt and button saying you survived. Maybe sell a video.

After all, my understanding of waterboarding is that people think it isn't torture right up until it's happening to them, at which point they change their minds.

The whole thing could backfire of course, but I've seen so many videos of people being voluntarily tasered that it seems like there'd be takers.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 9:56 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


“The things that I can survive, if it were necessary to do them to me, I would do,” he said.

May I be the first to say: It's necessary. Get on the table.

Also, by his logic, if it's survivable, it's fair game. I suggest that we remove a couple of fingers and see if he continues to feel this is an appropriate level to which we should reduce ourselves.
posted by quin at 11:45 AM on November 29, 2007


Stephen King suggests we waterboard Jenna Bush!
posted by augustweed at 12:59 PM on November 29, 2007


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