Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is pretty sure waterboarding isn’t torture — but she says it would be “absurd” to find out for herself.
During a recent CBS/National Journal debate, the candidate enthusiastically said she supported the interrogation technique.
“It was very effective,” she claimed. “It gained information for our country.”
Speaking to Fox News several days later, Bachmann defended herself by comparing waterboarding to President Harry Truman’s decision to drop an atomic bomb on Japan during World War II.
Both then-Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee John McCain agreed during the 2008 campaign that waterboarding was torture.
In an interview this week, the Des Moines Register editorial board asked Bachmann about the matter again.
“Is it uncomfortable?” Bachmann asked. “Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but I am more concerned that we would prevent aircraft from going into the Twin Towers, taking them down, and taking out 3,000 innocent American lives, than I am about the comfort level of a terrorist, and what that means for them.”
“Because again, this is done under monitored conditions, where – is it uncomfortable? Yes, I don’t deny that it’s uncomfortable. But a person is not going to lose their life, nor will they be permanently injured or permanently impaired by this. And it’s done on very unique, strict circumstances.”
“You say it’s being done on terrorists, but actually it’s being done as an interrogation technique to determine who are terrorists,” one editorial board member noted. “These people have not been tried. … If you think it’s not that bad, would you ever willingly submit to it just to see what it’s like?”
“Well, I think it would be absurd to have the president of the United States submit themselves to waterboarding,” Bachmann declared, ignoring that she’s not yet president. “There are those that have submitted themselves to it so that they can talk about it and speak about it afterwards.”
In fact, two members of the media who supported the Iraq war — journalist Christopher Hitchens and Chicago radio host Erich “Mancow” Muller — submitted to the technique and came away convinced that it was torture.
“[I]f waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture,” Hitchens wrote following the ordeal.
“I still wish that my experience were the only way in which the words ‘waterboard’ and ‘American’ could be mentioned in the same (gasping and sobbing) breath.”
Watch this video from Des Moines Register, broadcast Nov. 16, 2011.
Photo: Rep. Michele Bachmann