"Waterboarding" is not "an intensive interrogation technique." It is torture. There is no doubt in my military mind on this subject. There is also no doubt in my military mind that we should not subject anyone in American custody to torture, no matter how heinous their crimes and no matter how "valuable and actionable" intelligence gathered thereby will be. Those who defend the use of torture to extract information from captured terrorists justify it as a means of "protecting American lives." If this has become official American policy, we have crossed a well-defined line that has heretofore divided us from the enemies of freedom. To "save American lives" we have tarnished our American character.
American servicemen captured by our enemies during the past century or so have been subjected to torture and we have always reacted in justifiable rage at such treatment. Heretofore we have been able to express our outrage at the torture of our warriors taken prisoner without fear of hypocrisy. Unfortunately for our nation, we can no longer do so.
It is not surprising that the most vocal critic of "waterboarding" is Senator John McCain. He calls it torture, and he knows whereof he speaks. Shot down over North Vietnam, then-Lt McCain, USN was taken captive by the Vietnamese communists and subjected (as were all of his fellow POWs) to incredible and brutal torture. Read the book "P.O.W." for an appreciation of the heroism of our fighting men in captivity and the inhumane brutality of the enemies of freedom. Senator McCain and his fellow captives drew untold strength in the midst of their trials from the sure knowledge that America would never subject anyone to what they were enduring.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The best defense is a strong offense. Let's take the fight to the enemy as brutally as we possibly can and destroy them. But let's not destroy our unique American character in the vain attempt to protect ourselves from attack.