Olby to Mancow: Tell me how awful waterboarding is

If our modern-day Murrow was so curious to know, he could have taken a much more direct route to finding out. As it is, this is one of the precious few times you’ll find him deigning to interview a conservative — and naturally, it’s a missed opportunity. The salient policy question here isn’t “how bad was it?”, it’s “knowing what you know now, do you still condone it in emergency situations?” The closest Olby gets to that is to ask Mancow if he thinks he’d get a truthful answer from a suspect who’s been waterboarded, but that’s a variable that’ll turn on what an individual suspect knows and what his particular reaction to the process is. (Mancow says if he had any information he’d have given up, then adds that he’d have said anything to make it stop.) Unless Kayo’s suggesting that no suspect would ever react by giving up useful information, his question’s a non-starter. The better line of attack is to ask whether, irrespective of its usefulness, the technique is so inhumane that it simply shouldn’t be used. That’s a non-starter too, of course — in a true emergency situation, with an attack impending, the CIA will do what it has to do whether it’s legal or not — but at least it cuts to the heart of the matter.

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