The Legality of Waterboarding Depends on the Amount of Water
Illustration by: Matt Mahurin
If Valentine’s Day didn’t already make you want to throw up, Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker has something to turn your stomach over. Steve Bradbury, the unconfirmed-but-still-in-office head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Council, wrote secret legal opinions in 2005 and 2006 justifying waterboarding and other war crimes. Today, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) asked Bradbury how such obvious war crimes could be legal, especially given how the U.S. prosecuted Japanese officials for waterboarding in World War II.
Bradbury’s answer: It depends on how much water is used. "Our office has advised the CIA when they proposed waterboarding, that the use of the procedure, subject to strict limitations and safeguards, was not torture, did not violate the Anti-Torture Statute," he said. The Japanese used "forced consumption of mass amounts of water," you see, and so because the U.S. uses an unspecified amount of water less than that of Imperial Japan , it’s legal.
Perfect. So the question is: How much water does the CIA have to force someone to ingest in order for it to be torture? I’m calling the Justice Department.