If torture doesn’t stink, why does Mike McConnell have to hold his nose?

LONDON (AP) β€” One of the United States’ top judges said in an interview broadcast in Britain on Tuesday that interrogators can inflict pain to obtain critical information about an imminent terrorist threat.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that aggressive interrogation could be appropriate to learn where a bomb was hidden shortly before it was set to explode or to discover the plans or whereabouts of a terrorist group.

“It seems to me you have to say, as unlikely as that is, it would be absurd to say you couldn’t, I don’t know, stick something under the fingernail, smack him in the face. It would be absurd to say you couldn’t do that,” Scalia told British Broadcasting Radio Corp.

Original DVD cover.

U.S. interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, have been the subject of growing debate in the United States, and could play a role in the military trials of six men charged in connection with the Sept. 11, attacks. The issue also could find its way to the Supreme Court.

From BBC News (February 5, 2008):

The CIA has for the first time publicly admitted using the controversial method of “waterboarding” on terror suspects.

CIA head Michael Hayden told Congress it had only been used on three people, and not for the past five years.

He said the technique had been used on high-profile al-Qaeda detainees including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Waterboarding, condemned as torture by rights groups and many governments, is an interrogation method that puts the the detainee in fear of drowning.


Congress has been debating banning the use of waterboarding by the CIA.

President Bush has threatened to veto such a bill.

From The Guardian:

Congress today moved closer to outlawing waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods used by the CIA, as the ban remained intact after debate on a major intelligence policy bill.

But limits on waterboarding by US spy agencies remain unlikely to become law, thanks to political manoeuvring from Republicans and Democrats alike as well as certain opposition from George Bush.


The CIA’s use of waterboarding on al-Qaida suspects has fuelled international controversy for years, with UN officials, human rights groups, and congressional Democrats condemning the tactic as tantamount to torture.

The US military’s plans to seek the death penalty for several suspects in the 9/11 attacks also may falter if evidence obtained through waterboarding is challenged.

The waterboarding ban that Democrats added to the intelligence bill prohibits US spy agencies, including the CIA, from using any interrogation method not listed in the army field manual. McCain helped pass a similar restriction for the Pentagon in 2006.

“To be for it in the McCain bill but opposed to it [for intelligence agencies] makes no sense,” Democratic senator Dick Durbin said yesterday.


The US attorney general, Michael Mukasey, has repeatedly declined to call waterboarding torture, but the director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell, suggested to the New Yorker last month that the tactic was torturous.

From the Washington Post (February 7, 2007):

[Mike] McConnell […] explained to the Senate intelligence committee that he didn’t really tell the New Yorker that waterboarding is torture.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked him whether his quoted statements indicated that “for yourself, if used, waterboarding would, in fact, constitute torture. Is that correct?”

“No, ma’am, it’s not correct,” said McConnell, who had talked to reporter Lawrence Wright, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “The Looming Tower.” “The discussion was about something entirely different. It was a personal discussion about when I grew up and what I was doing as a youngster,” which was “being a water-safety instructor,” he said.


Wright, McConnell said, asked ” ‘Well, what about when water goes up your nose?’ And I said, ‘That would be torture.’ I said, ‘It would be very painful for me.’ Then it turned into a discussion of waterboarding.”

So the quote “‘Whether it’s torture by anyone else’s definition, for me it would be torture,’ is not correct?” Feinstein asked.

“I said it,” McConnell acknowledged, but what “I was talking about was water going into my nose, given the context of swimming and teaching people to swim. So it’s out of context,” he explained.


Wright sharply disagreed.

“No, we weren’t talking about swimming,” he told us yesterday, “we were talking about his military training and I asked him if waterboarding was part of that training. The context was how awful it would be if it were done to him,” Wright said. It was then that McConnell “brought up his experience as a water-safety instructor.”

Mr. McConnell, in the words of the profound Vinnie Barbarino of Welcome Back, Kotter: Up your nose with a rubber hose!


Filed under 9/11, Antonin Scalia, CIA, Democrats, Dianne Feinstein, Dick Durbin, George W. Bush, humor, Michael Hayden, Michael Mukasey, Mike McConnell, movies, parody, politics, Republicans, Senate Intelligence Committee, September 11, snark, Supreme Court, Torture, waterboarding, Wordpress Political Blogs

11 responses to “If torture doesn’t stink, why does Mike McConnell have to hold his nose?

  1. Got a Grip

    These people are the poorest excuses for human beings ever. Of course it’s torture. That’s why we prosecuted people in the past for doing it.

    And do we really need a law to tell us this? Apparently we do since no one seems to recognize precedent or pay attention to the laws and dictates we already have.

    I don’t know what country I live in anymore. It’s isn’t America, at least not the one I grew up in. Not by a long shot….

  2. nonnie9999

    i am in THE lousiest mood today. i honestly think that we live in a country of idiots. how did we get to where we are? πŸ‘Ώ

  3. nightowl724

    Forget about laws. How about just common sense and common decency? Human compassion or just plain shame? Hell, the Golden Rule is simple enough for even tiny toddlers and mere morons to understand and follow. When I was growing up and someone was doing something bad (never me, of course) , people would ask: “Does your mother know you’re doing that?” and “Does your father know where you are?” I beg the questions…

  4. Got a Grip

    I’m still in the lousiest of moods, nons. I thought it was getting a wee bit better when I first got up this morning, then I went to DK and had a meltdown over Schumer’s diary. They think we’re idiots. I resent that most of all.

  5. nonnie9999

    something tells me that they were all beaten when they were kids, and now they are exacting their revenge on everyone else. when they got to the milk of human kindness, it had already curdled.
    i have been avoiding dk as much as possible lately, as well as news programs. idiocy and vitriol all around, and i can’t stand it anymore.

  6. TRM

    As spokesman for the country full of idiots, so when you are dealiing with an irrational islamo bastard, should we serve them hot tea and cookies and “nice” the intel out of them….

    I say every terror suspect we capture we should beat the crap out of them in public and smear them with the unholiest pork products we have, spam and scrapple, then make them clean the vatican for a year,,, that oughta really freak ’em out…

    Honestly, how can you sympathize with these animals? And if you use that same old tired “moral high ground” defense I’m gonna puke…

    Sorry Non,,, just how I feel,,, I wrote how I really feel about that whole Jose Padilla garbage over at D=S
    Thanks now I’m in the same mood as nonnie…. it really is a country full of idiots…

    Just made you all mad didn’t I???

  7. nonnie9999

    oy, trm!
    we have the same conversation over and over again. nobody sympathizes with the crazies. we are against torture because:
    1. it gives others permission to torture our soldiers now and in the future
    2. it doesn’t work!!!!

  8. TRM

    But Non sweet ‘ums they are gonna torture and behead our guys and any one else that pisses them off anyway, no matter what we do or don’t do,,, thats the part I don;t get

    and yes, it does work… more often than not…

  9. nonnie9999

    and where is the proof that it works? are you believing what chimpy and the other idiots are telling you?

  10. bellicoseblog

    TRM makes some good points – We have to sometimes look at the greater good don’t we (depends on which political theorist you agree with)? It seems that if we are certain that 1 individual holds pertinent information that might keep others out of harm, it is our responsibility to do whatever we have to to get that information. CNS News.com ran a story about how the CIA said that it worked to foil a terrorist attack in 2005. WATERBOARDING – Terrorist pastime http://bellicoseblog.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/waterboarding-works/

    • i trust cns news as much as i trust faux news. torture doesn’t work, and even if it did, you have to weigh whether it is worth it. even if you break one guy, is it worth pissing off thousands of others by using torture? in addition, do we want to sanction torture so that we have no right to object to our own soldiers or citizens being tortured by others?