I’m all for this. For those that don’t know Marc Thiessen, and his defence of torture as public policy, you can see him here on the Daily Show (getting taken to the woodshed and whining about it).
Malcolm Nance comes from a slightly different background.
Here’s his view on Thiessen’s stance…
I spent twenty years in intelligence and four years in the SERE program waterboarding people before I ever opened my mouth on the subject. Marc Thiessen is a fool of the highest magnitude if he thinks he knows anything about waterboarding. His claims are based not on first-hand experience but on a classified briefing from people with an agenda of justifying what was done. That makes Thiessen into a court stenographer for war criminals rather than a person with any real claim of expertise.
Thiessen’s central purpose is apparently to glorify the most extreme practices used by the CIA in the Bush era and to argue that each of these practices, including waterboarding, is vitally necessary to our national security-even though no president used them before, and it seems that President Bush himself halted many of these practices over Cheney’s objection. We have prosecuted and convicted men for using these techniques in the past, and we were right to do so.
Thousands of American POWs died and suffered resisting torture practices that we have always called the tools of the enemy. The SERE program was designed to help them grapple with this inhumanity and retain their dignity in the face of it. Now Thiessen and his boss want us to embrace the tactics we used in that program-taken from the Russians, the Communist Chinese, the North Koreans, the North Vietnamese, the Khmer Rouge-as our own.
challenge him to put up or shut up. I offer to put him through just one hour of the CIA enhanced interrogation techniques that were authorized in the Bush Administration’s OLC memos-including the CIA-approved variant of waterboarding. If at the end he still believes this is not torture, I’ll respect his viewpoint. But not until then. By the way, I can assure you that, within that hour, I’ll secure Thiessen’s written admission that waterboarding is torture and that his book is a pack of falsehoods. He’ll give me any statement I want in order to end the torture.
And Nance is right. Thiessen would be squealing like a pig in a couple minutes. Then he would say whatever Nance wanted him to. That’s why “the Russians, the Communist Chinese, the North Koreans, the North Vietnamese, the Khmer Rouge” all used this technique, to get confessions. Confessions to anything. That’s the point of SERE, so you know what horrible things you’ll face if captured by the evil empires that use the technique, and have some defense against them (knowing is half the battle, go joe).
That someone would defend torture as useful (but only when we do it, it’s still evil for others to do so) is beyond the pale of moral reasoning, but seems to be the basis of Thiessen’s position.