“Safe, Legal and Rare”
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In Search of a Compromise Position on Waterboarding
Posted by Leon H. Wolf (Profile)
Tuesday, May 5th at 8:13AM EDT
After all the ink, digital and real, that has been spilled by both sides of the waterboarding debate, it has become obvious to me that the two sides of the debate will never reach a perfect agreement. In the spirit of bipartisanship, then, I humbly offer the following compromise solution: we conservatives will work to make sure that waterboarding remains safe, legal, and rare. Now, when Bill Clinton offered this compromise solution on abortion, he was criticized for not explaining exactly what this meant. Allow me to clear up any confusion ahead of time and explain exactly what is meant by “safe, legal, and rare,” in this context.
1. Safe. No one is pro-waterboarding. However, we need to accept that in these desperate times, waterboarding is going to happen. Making waterboarding illegal will not prevent waterboarding, it will merely force those who are going to waterboard to perform “back alley waterboardings,” where the unsanitary conditions might pose a health risk of infections or death to the waterboarder. Instead of forcing waterboarders into these shameful conditions, we will ensure that stringent regulations are passed governing the process of waterboarding so that those who want to waterboard can do so in clean facilities where there is absolutely no risk to their health at all. No one wants to return to the dark days of waterboarding performed in mold-infested cells in a hidden prison in Cuba, and conservatives will work to ensure that waterboarders are never forced to return to those days.
2. Legal. Conservatives believe that waterboarding is too important of an issue to be left in the hands of State governments, or even Congress. Access to legal waterboarding is so important, so fundamental, that it must remain in the hands of an organization far removed from unsightly democratic pressure: the Supreme Court. Accordingly, conservatives will only support judicial nominees who promise, in advance of their confirmation, to find a right to legal waterboarding in the constitution, and vote to uphold the existence of such right in perpetuity, no matter what facts about waterboarding may be revealed by science in the future.
3. Rare. Conservatives promise to work to keep waterboarding at least as rare in the United States as abortion. Accordingly, conservatives are willing to set a benchmark of less than 1.2 million waterboardings per year in the United States, and to work to achieve that goal. We will oppose, however, any government intervention whatsoever that might actually prevent someone from waterboarding another person. We believe that the choice for whether to waterboard or not is an intensely personal choice and the government has no right to, for instance, require a waterboarder to receive information about the health effects of waterboarding, require waterboarders under the age of 18 to receive parental consent before waterboarding, or prevent waterboarding of humans over the age of 60. All such restrictions would of course be unconstitutional and would violate the most imporatant aspect of “safe, legal, and rare” – “legal.”
Moreover, it is obvious to any thinking person that making waterboarding illegal and throwing waterboarders in jail would not do anything to reduce the incidence of waterboarding whatsoever. Nor would so-called “nation-building programs,” which foolishly insist that Islamist jihadis can be convinced to “just say no” to murdering women, homosexuals, and moderate Muslims. Rather, conservatives support real, effective programs that would actually reduce the incidence of waterboarding, like refusing to accept surrenders of Geneva Convention violators, shooting of captured Geneva Convention violators on the battlefield , the “alternative to waterboarding facility,” otherwise known as Gitmo, and “waterboarding Plan B,” in which the waterboarded person ingests 45 gallons of water immediately after capture.
It is time for us to move past the wedge rhetoric that has divided this country for too long on the vital issue of waterboarding. I call upon liberals of good faith to abandon their extremist absolutism on waterboarding and meet us halfway. In the new post-partisan era of Obama, let us work together as conservatives and liberals toward a reasonable compromise position on waterboarding – a position where we can all agree that waterboarding should be “safe, legal and rare.”
(H/T Tom Crowe; credit for the concept goes to this guy.)