Bin Laden’s Death And Waterboarding: Hand In Hand

 To say the killing of Osama bin Laden created a patriotic euphoria in the United States  would be a gross understatement, as the sense that justice had been served was downright palpable.  Spontaneous celebrations broke out across the nation, and the image of thousands chanting “U-S-A” from Ground Zero was simply awe-inspiring.  It was a great day for America.

Having said that, it is clear that U.S. still is not wholly committed to winning the War on Terror. The very fact that we are still debating whether waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” should be used on terrorists hell-bent on destroying us projects weakness.

There are now conflicting reports as to whether the waterboarding of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed provided information about an al-Queda courier, who ultimately led the U.S. to bin Laden’s Pakistani hideout.

One question: who cares?  Common sense tells us that waterboarding works, and has no doubt saved lives by obtaining intelligence that would have otherwise not been uncovered.  Whether that method was responsible for extracting the courier information will probably never be known, but debating that point misses the big picture entirely.

We are at war.  And when at war, you pull out all stops until victory is achieved — Vietnam was supposed to teach us that. When you fight not to lose, the enemy becomes emboldened. 

Where we are right now is a perfect example of the adage “we have met the enemy, and it is us.” We have allowed our security to be unnecessarily compromised, and, despite bin Laden’s death, the threat against the Western world remains high.

And it’s all done in the name of political correctness.

The blame cannot be directed just at President Obama, who officially discontinued waterboarding in 2009.  Under the Bush Administration, both the CIA and the military had effectively ended the practice years earlier.  And it was Republican John McCain who offered an Amendment prohibiting the U.S. from engaging in humiliating or degrading treatment of captured terrorists.

By way of explanation, waterboarding is when water is poured over the face of an enemy combatant, simulating the feeling of drowning.  If you’re waiting for the rest of the description, you’ll be sorely disappointed, because that’s it.  Don’t misunderstand—it’s very effective, but derives its success due to psychological stress rather than physical harm.  No one gets hurt, and no one dies. 

But somehow that’s degrading, so much of a no-no that we stopped it outright. So maybe if we just politely ask our detainees for sensitive information, like their financial network, comrades’ whereabouts, and the battle-plans to kill Americans, they will just tell us.

If the goal is to ensure that terrorists feel comfortable, then we were right to ban waterboarding.  However, if we want to be seriously engaged in a global war against those who aggressively advocate our destruction, maybe we should reconsider how we handle detainees, since Al-Queda prisoners are also afforded fantastic medical care, food reflective of their ethnicity, and prayer time.

Maybe we should ask the survivors and victims’ families of the 9/11 massacre, the Madrid train attacks, the London subway bombings, and a host of other atrocities if they care whether a prisoner, with possible knowledge of an impending attack (potentially nuclear, chemical or biological), has some water poured on his face, or feels humiliated.

Cutting through the PC, does the average American, or European for that matter, really believe such interrogation methods should be banned, putting the prisoner’s well-being ahead of their own?  Are they really willing to jeopardize their children’s future because a combatant’s “dignity” is affected?

When Americans are captured, the enemy doesn’t feel compelled to reciprocate that dignity. Need a quick refresher?  Just look at the videos of Americans — civilians and military — being decapitated, dragged through the streets, burned, dismembered and hung from bridges.

Because we coddle prisoners, refuse to profile, won’t construct a border wall and tie our troops’ hands behind their backs because of PC politics, we have become a paper tiger.  And the sigh of despair you hear?  That’s the silent majority of Europeans who live on the front lines, too scared to publicly support anti-PC measures because their cultures have become the embodiment of appeasement.  They used to nod in admiration that at least one country still had the guts to take it to the enemy. Sadly, that is no longer the case.

The President should use every means necessary to extract information that could save lives, and waterboarding is clearly one of them.  Just as Americans call for domestic drilling only after gas hits $4 per gallon, there will undoubtedly be loud calls to bring back enhanced interrogation techniques — after the next attack.

But by then, it will be too late.


Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau,

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia Magazine and nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia.  He can be reached at

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May 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm Comment (1)



I’m a little sick and tired of the torture debate that has once again re-surfaced since the divine coronation of the messiah. I am particularly annoyed that many conservatives have lost their backbone and ceded the moral high ground on the subject to the left. Remember the left is the party of the slaughter of the innocents so excuse me if I don’t convulse in abject horror at the treatment of Al Qaeda terrorists because they have. For the record if I had captured any of the subjects in question I would have gotten med evil on them with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch. Clear enough? I went to Ground Zero and will never forget what I saw there. I understand all to clearly what these animals are capable of. It sickens me that eight years after the 911 atrocity we are debating OUR moral standing while the Religion of Peace continues to detonate car bombs in market places, intentionally use homicide bombers on women an children, behead religious minorities, and torment women daily.

Where is the lefts ongoing outrage in these matters? It’s nonexistent. Why? Because people like Nancy Pelosi EMBRACE dictators like Bashar Assad of Syria, a known terrorist state. She was fully aware of the methods we used and was in agreement with their use at the time. It’s time to set the record straight: THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT EVER EXPLICITLY ENDORSED TORTURE. It is simply not the case that torture was ever the policy of our government. To this date there is no consensus on the definition of torture.

This is the accepted definition of torture according to Merriam- Webster

2: the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure.

Do any of these now acknowledged tactics fit that description:

The memos dispassionately describe the use of tactics such as water boarding, holding prisoners in small dark boxes, exploiting prisoners’ fears of insects, forced nudity, and shackling and depriving them of sleep for as many as eleven days. LINK

Doesn’t sound that way to me. Lets be very clear on something: Torture and interrogation are VASTLY different things. They are NOT to be confused even in passing. Yet that is EXACTLY what the left is doing here. A favorite tactic of the left is co-opting a definition (like marriage) and using it incorrectly. Another tactic is to repeat a lie over and over with contemptuous certitude (global warming is irrefutable) or torture doesn’t work. What we may understand to be true -that CONFESSIONS gained using torture are often unreliable because people will say anything to end their misery is not the same as interrogating someone until they break and reveal INFORMATION that can then be verified or discredited. The latter is much closer to the goals and objectives of United States policy regardless if some interrogators crossed the line. Crossing the line was simply not sanctioned U.S. policy. Never was and never will be. We now understand from recently released documents that these interrogation tactics did in fact produce credible, actionable information.

That being said interrogations aren’t meant to be pleasant. It reminds me of the first time I witnessed a police officer strike a suspect with his night stick. Let me tell you something right now: had this incident been video taped and posted on You Tube I’m quite sure there would have been an outcry about “excessive force”. No doubt in my mind. There is also no doubt that the police officer was entirely correct in his limited application of force. It was the amount of force he reasonably thought he needed to gain control of a dangerous suspect. No doubt any number of crazies from the Daily Kos or Huff Po would see it quite differently. Do we forget Rodney King that quickly? What the officers saw as a dangerous suspect not following their commands, grainy, disassociated video made us all see as a helpless man set upon by a pack of racist cops. Lets not forget that the female officer was kept from SHOOTING King initially by some of the same cops who were eventually prosecuted.

We are also inundated with nearly endless media images of prisoners being mistreated by sadistic guards. Guards who were PROSECUTED and jailed. Officers were DEMOTED and fired. This in itself shows the world that the U.S. is transparent and does take action when things go wrong. Is there a country on Earth that can lay claim to the purity of all of it’s soldiers, citizens or politicians? Hardly. The whole argument that the U.S. has lost credibility in the eyes of the world is the most laughable of all the lefts accusations. Just who’s eyes are they talking about? The U.N? Your kidding right? The least credible organization on the planet? Any Islamic country where stoning and beheading are considered public spectacle? The European Union? How about they go at least ONE CENTURY without an”Ethnic Cleansing” spasm before they lecture us. Any Communist country? Ha! China? Ha! I’m quite sure “Human rights” doesn’t even translate into Chinese. Russia? Come on now. Putin may just as well wear a ball cap with K.G.B on it. Maybe Bermuda can lecture us. But maybe not since Bermuda like Canada and most of the rest of the world depend on the United States taxpayer and the dedication of American service members to keep international peace and security.

When it is all said and done the U.S. played hard ball with some of the most dangerous terrorists in history. We did it WITHOUT executing them or permanently maiming them. When Donald Rumsfeld who was in his 70’s at the time said it wasn’t wrong to make these detainees stand for six or eight hours at a time because he stood for the same amount of time everyday at the Pentagon he was right. These terrorists routinely summarily execute and use REAL torture on OUR soldiers like SSgt. Matt Maupin, Specialist Alex Jimenez, 25, and Private Byron Fouty, 19, Private Joseph Anzack.

I’m still waiting for the MSNBC follow up report on the prosecution of their killers.

I find it amazingly disingenuous that the left was in a rush to show the caskets returning from overseas with the bodies of U.S. Soldiers but has not once shown the brutal executions and atrocities committed against them. Do we need a refresher on what these terrorist savages did to four Blackwater security contractors? Where was THEIR Geneva Convention protection? Remember the same Geneva Convention that we are supposed to extend to the TERRORISTS in Club Gitmo? Not good enough Captain. They were evil “mercenaries” and deserved what they got. Well then do we need to be reminded of what happened to our UNIFORMED SOLDIERS in Somalia? I think we do. They had their dead bodies DRAGGED THROUGH THE STREETS and desecrated.

The left wants only to exhort the shortcomings of the U.S. while it completely ignores the battlefield conditions or context in which we are having this argument. The facts are that terrorists, insurgents and guerrilla forces ALWAYS execute and use REAL torture on our captured soldiers no matter how nice we are to them. Our methods never have been recruiting tools for them. If that was so please explain the death of Navy Diver Robert Stetham:

Robert Stethem was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, but grew up in the Pinefield section of Waldorf, Maryland. He was one of three children. His father and two brothers also served in the U.S. Navy, one of them serving as a US Navy SEAL. His mother was a civilian Navy administrator. He graduated from Thomas Stone High School in 1980, where he played defensive back on the varsity and junior varsity football teams. He joined the Navy shortly after graduating.

In the Navy, he was assigned to the Navy Underwater Construction Team ONE in Little Creek, Virginia. He was returning from an assignment in Nea Makri, Greece aboard TWA Flight 847 when it was hijacked by members of the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah. They demanded the release of 766 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

When their demands were not met, Stethem was singled out. The hijackers learned he was a member of the U.S. military. They beat and tortured him. Then, they shot him and dumped his body on the tarmac at the Beirut airport. LINK

As far as I can remember in 1985 there was no discussion of the U.S. torturing ANYBODY. So why the horrendous treatment of this brave Sailor? Just because he was an American serviceman. It is intellectually dishonest to say that our conduct of this war has anything to do with our enemies behavior! They have been torturing and executing our people as far back as we can remember. Our getting tough with them is a abundantly justifiable reaction to the clear and present danger that these terrorists presented. As far as I am concerned Khalid Sheik whats-his-face should have been dropped off at the nearest New York Firehouse. Maybe, just maybe then you may have a case. But until then the left is just showing the white stripe down it’s back. For the record let’s remember what REAL torture looks like:

The Bataan Death March:

The march, involving the forcible transfer of 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war[1] captured by the Japanese in the Philippines from the Bataan peninsula to prison camps, was characterized by wide-ranging physical abuse and murder, and resulted in very high fatalities inflicted upon the prisoners and civilians along the route by the armed forces of the Empire of Japan. Beheading, cut throats and casual shootings were the more common and merciful actions — compared to bayonet stabbings, rapes, disembowelment’s, numerous rifle butt beatings and a deliberate refusal to allow the prisoners food or water while keeping them continually marching for nearly a week (for the slowest survivors) in tropical heat. Falling down, unable to continue moving was tantamount to a death sentence, as was any degree of protest or expression of displeasure.

Prisoners were attacked for assisting someone failing due to weakness, or for no apparent reason whatsoever. Strings of Japanese trucks were known to drive over anyone who fell. Riders in vehicles would casually stick out a rifle bayonet and cut a string of throats in the lines of men marching alongside the road. Accounts of being forcibly marched for five to six days with no food and a single sip of water are in postwar archives including filmed reports.[2]

The exact death count has been impossible to determine, but some historians have placed the minimum death toll between six and eleven thousand men; whereas other postwar Allied reports have tabulated that only 54,000 of the 72,000 prisoners reached their destination— taken together, the figures document a casual killing rate of one in four up to two in seven (25% to 28.5%) of those brutalized by the forcible march. The number of deaths that took place in the internment camps from delayed effects of the march is uncertain, but believed to be high.

So we water boarded and roughed up some terrorists. I sleep well at night knowing that we have courageous officers in the C.I.A. willing to do what is necessary to keep the United States and my family safe. It’s time for those of us on the right who enjoy that security to stop allowing the complicit left to demonize those who provided that safety for us.

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April 26, 2009 at 1:36 pm Comments (0)

Untangling the Torture Debate

I must admit that I was among the wishful bunch that believed that the painful history of the Bush Administration’s interrogation policies could be swept under the rug with the inauguration of Barack Obama. I was gravely mistaken.

I was 12 years old on 9/11 – mature enough to recognize the day’s horror, but too young to comprehend the evil that rushed ashore and brutally murdered nearly 3,000 Americans. There is no doubt that the men who hijacked commercial airplanes and turned them into suicide weapons were sick and disturbed creatures. Their followers, loosely led by the ever-elusive Osama Bin Laden, subscribe to a twisted ideology, one that endorses the wanton killing of innocents and perverts a respectable religion in hopes of some sort of glorified afterlife. The evil of these select men is pure and undying; it requires constant vigilance and a rigorous application of our diplomatic, humanitarian and military power in the particular nations where this evil persists. Causes such as the empowerment of women, the freedom of expression and economic equality hang in the balance for the millions of tolerant Muslims who seek a shared future with the West.

With that said, I believe that the United States cannot make significant progress in the Arab and Muslim worlds if we do not first acknowledge the importance of the court of public opinion. Fair or not, the success of American initiatives in the region will rest on the strength of our image among the greater populace. It will not come, as we have presumed for decades, by currying favor with often corrupt political elites. Putting aside your feelings on his progress thus far, Obama has wisely reached out to two of the Muslim world’s most open and democratic regimes in Jordan and Turkey (Let us separate Obama’s engagements with Iran for the sake of this argument). His decision to make high-profile addresses in the heart of the Middle East is reassuring, refreshing and completely necessary.

After great thought and deliberation, I have a few insights about the recent release of the torture memos from the Bush Justice Department. First, I must get the following off my chest: I remain a registered Republican. I voted for John McCain. Despite costly errors and heartbreaking losses, I did and still do support our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The haunting images of 9/11 remain in my head to this day. And, nearly eight years later, I still come to tears re-watching a defiant President Bush, in his greatest unscripted moment, speaking to grieving New York City firefighters atop a mound of rubble at the World Trade Center several days after the attack: “I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” Maybe it was foolish nationalism, but those emotions were alive in many Americans at the time.

April 25, 2009 at 10:52 am Comments (0)