Waterboarding, for those less than familiar with the vileness that is the torturer's mindset, is a technique where you basically convince the victim to talk by almost, but not quite, drowning them. I won't go into the grisly details of this technique - it is every bit as damaging as the various tortures used in the Middle Ages.
According to Ms. Marsden, waterboarding is no worse than the techniques used by competitive swimming coaches:
I suppose that those who object to terror suspects getting water up the nose would say that, as a young competitive swimmer, I was also tortured. It was called "hypoxic training" -- swimming underwater and holding our breath until we passed out. Our coaches didn't call it torture, just an exercise in "mental toughness." So think of it this way -- terror suspects are getting some free mental toughness training courtesy of the U.S. government.
No Rachel, you dumb twit - there's a damn big difference between what a young swimmer contends with and being strapped down to a board and having ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL over what is being DONE TO YOU!
Intelligence saves lives.
Why yes it does. But just how reliable do you think intelligence gathered by physical coercion is, Rachel? Someone being tortured will say whatever they think their captors want to hear - whether it has any grounding in reality is irrelevant.
Now consider the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind who ultimately claimed to have been involved in dozens of terrorist plots. He was found dressed like a slob, naturally, and also apparently in possession of a letter from Osama bin Laden. Think he might have known a thing or two?
I'm not sure how folks who are critical of the CIA's interrogation techniques would suggest eliciting intelligence from guys like this. Perhaps by offering him some tasty snacks and the love and understanding that he lacked as a child?
And why do you think torture is going to get you anything useful? If you get something "useful", you still have to corroborate it through other more reliable sources - so why aren't you using those reliable sources properly in the first place?
The examples of spies like Aldrich Ames in fact underscores my point. Ames was not coerced to provide information to the Soviet Union through force - he was recruited and paid. The information he provided to the Soviets was undoubtedly of a high grade and useful.
Marsden might think that torture is justified because someone is a suspect in a terrorism investigation. Then again, we only have to look at the case of Maher Arar as an example of just how effective torture actually is in extracting information. Or perhaps, she'd like a little sample of CIA-sponsored "swimming lessons" as she so dismissively puts it?
No, Rachel, the ends do not justify the means. Just as the evil that is perpetrated by terrorists is impossible to square with the political goals behind it, descending into acts of evil ourselves is not justified either. Desperate times may beget desperate measures, but you better be goddamn sure it's that desperate before you sink to depths of torturing someone to find out what you think they know.