- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 25, 2009


Eric H. Holder Jr. believes waterboarding is torture (“GOP to challenge Holder on views of interrogation,” Politics, Thursday). Yet the legal definition of torture requires there be “severe” pain.

The question that must be asked is, if hearings were to be conducted, how does one determine what is “severe” pain under the law, an idea that is completely subjective? Those who have publicly declared waterboarding to be torture have not themselves been exposed to the practice, and that detracts from their credibility on whether the practice even qualifies as torture. Furthermore, those same public officials and congressmen seem ignorant of the fact that we have been using the practice against some of our own troops for over 40 years.

As a former naval aviator, I was waterboarded in February 1988 and lost consciousness as a result. I did not experience severe pain, yet it did cause me to panic, since what we all take for granted - breathing - was no longer an option for what seemed a protracted length of time.

It was not fun, and was unpleasant to say the least, but it was not the most difficult training I have ever undergone during my Navy career. The point of the waterboarding is more intimidation, creating fear to extract information, which has worked 100 percent of the time it has been tried. Will those same officials and congressmen now believe we have tortured some of our own troops in training?

Mr. Holder is hardly in a position to advise anyone on what is torture, or for that matter, right or wrong given his many obvious lapses in judgment during his tenure with the Clinton administration. Consequently, this selection does not strike me as change, but an example of the good-old-boy network in play. An emasculation of the war on terror brings the wrong kind of hope to the wrong people.



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