Freeland: No Waterboarding—Even To Save Planeloads of People

The exquisite moral sensibilities of the MSM . . .

Would you waterboard an al Qaeda member for three minutes to get information to save the lives of nine passenger-loads of innocent civilians?  Chrystia Freeland wouldn't.  The US managing editor of the Financial Times made the stunning statement during the course of a classic Morning Joe dust-up today.  Joe Scarborough, with help from tag-team partner Pat Buchanan, went after Freeland on her opposition to waterboarding and similar interrogation techniques. At one point Scarborough called Freeland "sophomoric."  Later, the exasperated MJ host gave his guest some of the same treatment to which he'd recently been subjected by Zbigniew Brzezinski, telling Freeland "you have no idea what you're talking about."

Finally, under questioning from Buchanan, Freeland went so far as to disagree with the proposition that it would be moral to waterboard someone for three minutes to get information to foil a plot to simultaneously kill nine passenger planeloads of people.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Do you think Barack Obama will ever sign a piece of paper that says, let's not -- let's not interrogate aggressively? Let's pull back. Let's shut down Gitmo. Let's not be aggressive in trying to stop the next 9/11 from happening? Because if he does, when the next 9/11 happens, they know they will be responsible. I've seen how this works.

KRYSTIA FREELAND: I think Guantanamo will be shut down by the Obama administration and on aggressive interrogation, I think that's a really dangerous term, it has sort of an Orwellian flavor to it. I think that there is a clear line between torture and interrogation.

SCARBOROUGH: What is it?

FREELAND: What's the line?

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, what's the line?

FREELAND: For me, in my judgment, waterboarding has always been torture.

SCARBOROUGH: Oh, has it really?

FREELAND: And some of what they describe as the "stress postures," I would call those torture too, and I think certain levels of sleep deprivation are torture as well.

SCARBOROUGH: Sleep deprivation is torture?

FREELAND: Depending on how far you go.

SCARBOROUGH: So tell me, what should we do?  Should we just bring them a birthday cake and ask them what soccer match they'd like to see?

FREELAND: No; I think that's unfair Joe. I think there are ways --

SCARBOROUGH: It's not unfair: it's unrealistic.

FREELAND:  No it's not.

SCARBOROUGH:  Sleep deprivation is torture?

FREELAND: Depending on how long it goes on.

SCARBOROUGH: I can't even engage in this conversation. This is so sophomoric I can't even engage in this conversation.

FREELAND: No it's not; it's not sophomoric.

After some more pointed repartee . . .

SCARBOROUGH: I'm going to be talking to you the day after the [next] 9/11, because you sit, and everybody out there sits in the comfort, seven years later, of not being attacked because of what George Bush and Dick Cheney did, and it's funny how in 2001, in the fall of 2001, and in 2002 and in 2003 most of these things were fine with most people—80% of Americans.  The further we get away from it, suddenly it is evil, and George Bush and Dick Cheney are the most evil people.

And a bit later . . .

SCARBOROUGH: When you say torture--you define waterboarding as torture, right?

FREELAND: In my view it is.

SCARBOROUGH: So when you say torture doesn't work, you're saying waterboarding doesn't work?

FREELAND: I think the problem with  [inserts air quotes] information that people get under torture is when people are tortured they will say what they think the interrogators want to hear --

SCARBOROUGH: OK, but you gotta answer my question.

FREELAND: So the information overall is unreliable. That doesn't mean that some information you get --

SCARBOROUGH: Chrystia, Chrystia, answer my question.

FREELAND: I am --

SCARBOROUGH: Does waterboarding work or not?

FREELAND: I am answering your question.  And my answer is this.

SCARBOROUGH: Does waterboarding work or not?

FREELAND: Some information you get might be reliable but a lot of it won't be. If you get a mixture of reliable and unreliable information, it is all --

SCARBOROUGH: I hate to say this, I hate to say this, because I'm going to sound like Mika's dad here.  You are speaking of things of which you have no idea. You have no idea what you're talking about.

FREELAND: Do you, Joe?

SCARBOROUGH: Yes, I do. Yes, I do. And I know for a fact that waterboarding brought our interrogators, brought Americans probably about 70 to 75% of what they got, what they got from Khalid Sheik Mohammed opened doors that we are still going through. We have captured and killed so many people, so many people, because of waterboarding so you can say if you want that waterboarding is immoral, fine. That's your judgment. Waterboarding is immoral. Fine.

FREELAND: I do say that but I also think the information you get is highly questionable.

. . .

SCARBOROUGH: I have to say for the record, if anybody is out there watching this, then I'm just going to be quiet and let you live in your fantasy world.  Waterboarding has produced and given so much evidence to our people in the CIA and in other intelligence agencies, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad by himself has done more to crush al Qaeda than Dick Cheney or George Bush because of waterboarding. That's all I'm going to say this segment.

PAT BUCHANAN: Let me ask you a couple questions. This Bojinka plot that was going to bring down nine airliners over the Pacific at one time, apparently that was broken by the fact that enhanced interrogation techniques were done in the Philippines on people they caught there. Was that immoral, to use these on an individual, which you might constitute torture if it saves nine passenger planes from going down over the Pacific?

FREELAND: Do you think it would be immoral to preemptively kill someone who hasn't committed a crime yet?

BUCHANAN: Let me tell you something -- it would be moral to take Khalid Shaikh Mohammed out and say here, and shoot him in the head, but it's immoral --

FREELAND: For what he's done already.

BUCHANAN: Exactly. But it's immoral to water board him three minutes?

FREELAND: I'm asking you.

BUCHANAN: I'm saying it's moral to kill him and given what he's done and what you know he's done, it is moral to impose physical pain upon him, excruciating pain, to get information to save lives, yes.

FREELAND:  I disagree.  I think there's a very, very clear line.

War on Terrorism Capital Punishment Military Culture/Society Interrogation Techniques MSNBC Financial Times Morning Joe Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Chrystia Freeland