Reagan opposed torture

Ronald Reagan, an idol to many conservatives, was opposed to torture. In fact, here’s what he said in his signing statement ratifying the UN Convention on Torture from 1984 (emphasis mine):

“The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention . It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.

The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called ‘universal jurisdiction.’ Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.”

That’s a pretty unambiguous statement.

Now I know many conservatives will say waterboarding isn’t torture, so let’s take a look at what waterboarding is and how the United Nations Convention Against Torture defines torture. Waterboarding is a technique that induces panic and suffering by forcing a person to inhale water into the sinuses, pharynx, larynx, and trachea. Now here’s the definition of torture, as defined by the UN Convention Against Torture (emphasis mine):

The term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession

So let’s recap…waterboarding is a technique that induces panic and suffering in recipients, and the UN Convention Against Torture defines torture as any act in which pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is inflicted on a person. It seems pretty unambiguous to me that waterboarding is torture, and as such is illegal.

H/T to Victor Ponelis of Lake Country Liberal.


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38 thoughts on “Reagan opposed torture

  1. Please would you please be so kind as to define “severe”?

    Let me help you if I may. Since we do it to our own troops it can not be severe. So, therefore it does NOT rise to the level of torture. And it is NOT illegal.

    To say otherwise is just pure spin, and mudslinging. The real question here is why continue to fabricate straw men to beat up? Why continue to sling mud so vehemently?

    I can only imagine that doing so is necessary in order to keep the sales of Hope and Change up. Because without doom and gloom, there is little need for hope and change.

    So let’s recap…waterboarding is a technique that is so common and accepted that we use it on our own troops. So, it seems very unambiguous to me that waterboarding is not severe therefore NOT torture, and as such was very legal.

  2. Sorry Rich, I missed your comment. I understand the point you’re trying to make regarding waterboarding being used as a part of SERE training, and therefore being legal, but I respectfully disagree that the use of waterboarding as a training tool in SERE makes waterboarding legal for use against our nation’s enemies.

    As for my definition of severe, I’ll just say that I consider simulated drowning to be severe.

  3. It’s one thing to voluntarily submit to torture for training purposes (which torture you can end at any point), it’s another thing to have it done to you against your will. People, after all, willingly get in a boxing ring and beat each other up. That doesn’t mean going out and beating up a criminal is not torture.

  4. You guys describe it as if it was a birthday party. The incesasant spin that you will reort to is incredible.

  5. So MALCOLM NANCE says it’s torture, so it must be true.

    He admits that he did it. Then why aren’t you guys advocating that he be prosecuted for torture? Then why are you advocating that the guys that did it to me be prosecuted for torture?

    Selective prosecution for political gain?

  6. Rich, I’m not spinning anything. You think waterboarding is not torture, and I disagree. I don’t think I’ve once said you’re “spinning” simply because I don’t agree with your opinion, and I kind of resent the fact that you’re saying I’m “spinning” this.

    Let me be clear: I believe waterboarding is torture. I believed it when GWB and friends used it, and I’ll still believe it’s torture even if it were used by a Democratic administration. That’s not spin; it’s what I believe.

  7. “I believe waterboarding is torture.” Based on what?

    “It’s one thing to voluntarily submit to torture for training purposes (which torture you can end at any point), it’s another thing to have it done to you against your will.” <== That’s spin.

    Can I consent to be murdered? no, because wasn’t Dr Kavorkian convicted of exactly that? It’s either malum en se (that’s a big word. it means bad in and of itself)or it’s not.

    Get it?

    It’s not malum en se because we do it to our own troops. At best it’s malum prohibitum which would be a POLICY DECISION. I.e it’s wrong because it’s what “I believe” just as you said. And to say anything different is spinning it to YOUR political advantage.

  8. “Based on what?”

    Based on what I know of waterboarding, as well as my own moral compass, which tells me that torture (waterboarding included) is both immoral and reprehensible. I believe that waterboarding is both cruel and inhumane, and what’s more, I believe it to be in direct contradiction to existing laws and the principles upon which this nation was founded.

    That’s not spin; that’s what I believe.

  9. Please forgive the inflamatory parts of my dialog. I should not make you resentful. I’ll endeavor to do better in the future.

    (…and I’ll make my self do push-ups later.)

  10. I have standing questions that remain unanswered:

    How can it be severe? if we do it to our own troops? (Why refuse to answer?)

    Can I consent to be murdered? Wasn’t Dr Kavorkian convicted of exactly that?

    The answers are: It can’t be severe if we do it to our own troops. And no I can’t consent to something bad and make it alright by my consent.

    Why refuse to answer? perhaps to make up your own version of reality for political gain. If so, that’d be spin. If not, then why not?

  11. How can it be severe? if we do it to our own troops?

    Rich, I’ve answered that question already. I’d argue that waterboarding is severe, and the fact that it’s used to train U.S. troops in case they’re captured doesn’t negate that argument. If you don’t think simulated drowning is severe, then I don’t know what else to say.

    Can I consent to be murdered?

    No, because murder is the intentional taking of an individual’s life by another without that individual’s consent. I know the argument you’re trying to make here, but let me pose this question to you: If waterboarding is perfectly legal – as you seem to be asserting – then why can’t law enforcement use it on suspects during interrogations? After all, by your logic waterboarding isn’t severe, since we use it to train U.S. military forces, so why couldn’t it be used on individuals being interrogated by law enforcement officers?

  12. “I’d argue that waterboarding is severe” If it’s severe then why aren’t you going after the people that did it to me? If it’s severe then what I endured rises to the level of torture. You can’t have it both ways. Either it’s not severe, i.e. common. Or it is severe and my instuctors need to be prosecuted. Make sense? What you are describing is, “It’s bad because I say so.” That’s a policy decision.

    Law enforcement suspects are not illegal enemy combatants. Completely different set of laws.

    However, before I make you even more resentful. I can admit that this going in circles seems unproductive to me. So, I should probably stop.

    You have every right to your opinions. Who the heck am I to say that you have it wrong?

  13. Rich said:

    “It’s one thing to voluntarily submit to torture for training purposes (which torture you can end at any point), it’s another thing to have it done to you against your will.” <== That’s spin.

    To which I would respond… ???? What?

    First, let me thank you (Zach, right?) for allowing me to comment, I ended up here while researching something related to torture.

    To Rich, I would just note that my statement is not spin, it’s a statement of opinion and, well, fact. It IS different to submit yourself to something than having it imposed upon you. Surely you can agree with me on this point? If I were to waterboard you and you were not wanting it, I am quite sure you would call it torture.

    And it seems severe to me because, based on the descriptions of it that I’ve read, it sounds quite severe. To feel like you’re suffocating/drowning? Have you ever had a near drowning event happen? I have (just for the briefest of seconds) and it’s not a pleasant experience. It is painful and terrifying.

    That being the case, it sure sounds like waterboarding fits the definition of torture.

    Besides that, it has long been treated as torture. When Japanese and Nazi soldiers used it on people in WWII, we prosecuted them for it. Are you suggesting that those prosecutions should be revoked because “it’s not really all that bad, it’s not really torture…”?

    I would hope that you would agree with me that those war crime prosecutions after WWII were righteous.

  14. Rich said:

    Law enforcement suspects are not illegal enemy combatants. Completely different set of laws.

    Oh? There are laws that allow the torture/waterboarding of enemy combatants? I don’t think there are, but if you have some source, please show me.

    As I’ve noted already, we have already prosecuted people in the past for using waterboarding because it is already accepted as torture in our laws. Here’s John McCain referencing this point…

    ” … following World War II war crime trials were convened. The Japanese were tried and convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding.”


    It seems to me that our laws have already decided on waterboarding. That being the case, I hope you won’t mind if we’ll insist on prosecutions in cases where people have broken our existing laws?

  15. Rich, I just want to make it clear that I appreciate the back and forth we’ve had in discussing this issue; my only bone of contention has been your assertion that my beliefs on this issue are “spin.” While I don’t agree with your opinion on whether waterboarding is torture or not, I respect the fact that that’s your belief.

  16. “????What?”. Yes spin ie twisting the facts.
    “…wanting it” are you kidding me? Did you go to SERE? No one “wanted it”. Making stuff up really does not support your case. It actually shows how desperate you are.

    Have I ever had a near drowning experience? Yes I and thounsands of others HAVE BEEN WATERBOARDED IN SERE! Have you?

    *what the japanese did was different!

    Not one answer to my questions. How petty.

  17. For my part, I believe I have answered your questions. I’m sorry you don’t feel like they’ve been answered well enough.

    You have your hunch about whether or not waterboarding is serious and I have mine. But they’re rather irrelevant at this point because, as I have noted, the issue has been legally decided long ago. Waterboarding IS legally torture (and I think for most of us, we recognize it morally as such, too).

    So, if you have a problem with that, you’ll have to work to make your case better than, “Well, I did it so I know, it’s not torture.” We’re not buying it.

    In the meantime, we WILL seek prosecutions because waterboarding IS torture and that is the current law of the land.

    Sorry your hunch is different than the current law, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

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