Whenever decisions are made about interrogators using no-brainer tactics, the person making the decision is poorly trained at best.
Vice President Cheney said this week that dunking terrorism suspects in water during questioning was a "no-brainer," prompting complaints from human rights advocates that he was endorsing the use of a controversial technique known as waterboarding on prisoners held by the United States.
In an interview Tuesday with Scott Hennen, a conservative radio show host from Fargo, N.D., Cheney agreed with Hennen's assertion that "a dunk in water" may yield valuable intelligence from terrorism suspects. He also referred to information gleaned from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the captured architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but stopped short of explicitly saying what techniques were used.
"Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?" Hennen asked.
"Well, it's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said, "but for a while there, I was criticized as being the vice president for torture. We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in."
Would we want this same sloppiness in other critical areas such as health care policy? "Hey, I've heard that technique saves lives so don't worry about doing double-blind studies or about getting FDA approval. What are a few mistakes if this technique might save lives?"
The trick is to find a different name for sloppiness or to classify the sloppiness as top secret so the public never has any proof of that sloppiness.
(raises hand) "I know! I know! They take terrorist suspects to the nearest county fair and put them in dunk tanks. Yeah, that's it."
President Bush said Friday the United States does not torture prisoners, commenting after Vice President Dick Cheney embraced the suggestion that a dunk in water might be useful to get terrorist suspects to talk.
Human rights groups complained that Cheney's words amounted to an endorsement of a torture technique known as "water boarding," in which the victim believes he is about to drown. The White House insisted Cheney was not talking about water boarding but would not explain what he meant.
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