Libertarian Party daily poll: Is waterboarding torture?

Voting and results at:

Posted to IPR by Paulie

60 thoughts on “Libertarian Party daily poll: Is waterboarding torture?

  1. Ayn R. Key

    Who are these people voting in these polls who think it isn’t torture? Are they the same as the ones who voted “no” on shutting down Gitmo and “yes” on whether George was a good president? Why are the voting in a LIBERTARIAN poll?

  2. Ayn R. Key

    Even with recruiting from the right that high of a pro-torture response on a libertarian poll makes no sense. There can’t be that many Dumderos in libertarian circles.

  3. HumbleTravis

    I think that the torture issue is eventually going to become a semantic nightmare. The official position will be that future administrations “oppose torture” and define torture in specific ways. Somebody will come up with some “outside the box” interrogation ideas that don’t fit the definition but may even be near lethal. This debate won’t end with waterboarding.

  4. John Famularo

    If you can define what you mean by the word “torture” with unambiguous declarative sentences, then I can tell you whether waterboarding falls within your definition.

    The poll only shows that people differ on their definition of torture. I’m sure that some people think that involuntary incarceration is torture.

    That poll is as informative as a poll asking if all vandars are iscorps.

  5. Steven Druckenmiller

    torture is a term of art. Just because it does not readily lend itself to formal distillation of simple parts and steps does not mean we do not know what it looks like.

    Can you define what “love” or “fraud” are with unambiguous declarative sentences? If you want to be an irritating pedant, ANYTHING can have ambiguous meaning.

  6. libertariangirl

    WTF ! are you guys effing kidding me? why the f%^k does LP polls even need to ask that and why do you so-called libertarians turn it into a question of semantics.


  7. libertariangirl

    thanks paulie , this one made me kinda super-mad , both with the question in the first place and then with the semantic related posts after.

  8. Steven Druckenmiller

    why do you so-called libertarians turn it into a question of semantics.

    Forgive us our intellectual discussion trespasses, LG. Next time we’ll just defer to what you type in all capital letters (because all-caps is Internet Cruise Control for “Right and Awesome”).

    Even though semantics is now used as shorthand for “overly picky”, it’s a discussion of what symbols and signs do and should mean to us. So, when we talk about what the symbol “torture” means, it’s an important discussion, not one that readily lends itself to your arbitrary whims.

    For my money, I agree with your end result, but how did you get there? And can we use what you used in other situations that sit on the border between discomfort and torture?

  9. HumbleTravis

    For the record I was only pointing out that the government will use semantics in order to allow future methods of torture. I agree 100% with you regarding waterboarding.

  10. Prospective Advertiser

    When I voted that warterboarding is torture, there were 118 people with the evil view that waterboarding is not torture. Each one of them should be ashamed and make an act of contrition. All of them are shameless.

    Waterboarding is torture. It is historically established as a form of torture. Its purpose is to inflict cruelty.

    Wikipedia gives this definition, “Waterboarding is a form of torture[1][2] consisting of immobilizing the victim on his or her back with the head inclined downwards, and then pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages.”

    During the Double Tenth incident in Singapore, the Japanese secret police used waterboarding to torture several of the victims. “After the war, on 18 March 1946, the Double Tenth war crimes trial was held in the Supreme Court Building, before a Military Court presided over by Lieutenant Colonel S. C. Silkin. Twenty-one Kempeitai were accused of torturing 57 internees, resulting in the deaths of 15.[4] On 15 April 1946, after a hearing lasting 21 days, Sumida was one of eight sentenced to death by hanging. Three others received life imprisonment, one a sentence of fifteen years, and two were given prison terms of eight years.”

    Every USA government official involved in waterboarding, or advocating its use in an official capacity, is guilty of violating the constitution’s provision against cruel and unusual punishments, is guilty of a war crime, and should be tried, found guilty, and executed. For my own part, I would not be averse to seeing these people waterboarded to death.

  11. Steven Druckenmiller

    For my own part, I would not be averse to seeing these people waterboarded to death.

    mmm, that’s some delicious hypocrisy.

  12. libertariangirl

    How did I get there?
    its whatcha call a no-brainer.
    theres no need to mensa-mind and over think it .
    its really that simple , YES water boarding is torture

  13. Steven Druckenmiller

    So it’s an emotional, arbitrary definition. I figured as much. How does that help anyone figure out what is meant by torture?

  14. paulie cannoli Post author

    torture – 6 dictionary results
    ? ?/?t?rt??r/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [tawr-cher] Show IPA Pronunciation
    noun, verb, -tured, -tur?ing.
    1. the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.
    2. a method of inflicting such pain.
    3. Often, tortures. the pain or suffering caused or undergone.
    4. extreme anguish of body or mind; agony.
    5. a cause of severe pain or anguish.
    –verb (used with object)
    6. to subject to torture.
    7. to afflict with severe pain of body or mind: My back is torturing me.
    8. to force or extort by torture: We’ll torture the truth from his lips!
    9. to twist, force, or bring into some unnatural position or form: trees tortured by storms.
    10. to distort or pervert (language, meaning, etc.).
    1530–40; < LL tort?ra a twisting, torment, torture. See tort, -ure Unabridged (v 1.1) Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006. Cite This Source Language Translation for : torture Spanish: torturar, German: foltern, Japanese: ??????? View 30 other languages » tor·ture (tôr'ch?r) Pronunciation Key n. 1. 1. Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion. 2. An instrument or a method for inflicting such pain. 2. Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony: the torture of waiting in suspense. 3. Something causing severe pain or anguish. tr.v. tor·tured, tor·tur·ing, tor·tures 1. To subject (a person or an animal) to torture. 2. To bring great physical or mental pain upon (another). See Synonyms at afflict. 3. To twist or turn abnormally; distort: torture a rule to make it fit a case. [Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin tort?ra, from Latin tortus, past participle of torqu?re, to twist; see terkw- in Indo-European roots.] tor'tur·er n. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. Cite This Source torture (n.) c.1495 (implied in torturous), from M.Fr. torture "infliction of great pain, great pain, agony," from L.L. torture "a twisting, writhing, torture, torment," from stem of L. torquere "to twist, turn, wind, wring, distort" (see thwart). The verb is 1588, from the noun. Tortuous "full of twists" is recorded from 1426. Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper Cite This Source torture noun 1. extreme mental distress [syn: anguish] 2. unbearable physical pain 3. intense feelings of suffering; acute mental or physical pain; "an agony of doubt"; "the torments of the damned" [syn: agony] 4. the act of distorting something so it seems to mean something it was not intended to mean [syn: distortion] 5. the deliberate, systematic, or wanton infliction of physical or mental suffering by one or more persons in an attempt to force another person to yield information or to make a confession or for any other reason; "it required unnatural torturing to extract a confession" verb 1. torment emotionally or mentally [syn: torment] 2. subject to torture; "The sinners will be tormented in Hell, according to the Bible" WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University. Cite This Source Torture Tor"ture\, n. [F.,fr.L. tortura, fr. torquere, tortum, to twist, rack, torture; probably akin to Gr. tre`pein to turn, G. drechsein to turn on a lathe, and perhaps to E. queer. Cf. Contort, Distort, Extort, Retort, Tart, n., Torch, Torment, Tortion, Tort, Trope.] 1. Extreme pain; anguish of body or mind; pang; agony; torment; as, torture of mind. --Shak. Ghastly spasm or racking torture. --Milton. 2. Especially, severe pain inflicted judicially, either as punishment for a crime, or for the purpose of extorting a confession from an accused person, as by water or fire, by the boot or thumbkin, or by the rack or wheel. 3. The act or process of torturing. Torture, whitch had always been deciared illegal, and which had recently been declared illegal even by the servile judges of that age, was inflicted for the last time in England in the month of May, 1640. --Macaulay. Torture Tor"ture\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Tortured (?; 135); p. pr. & vb. n. Torturing.] [Cf. F. Torturer. ] 1. To put to torture; to pain extremely; to harass; to vex. 2. To punish with torture; to put to the rack; as, to torture an accused person. --Shak. 3. To wrest from the proper meaning; to distort. --Jar. Taylor. 4. To keep on the stretch, as a bow. [Obs.] The bow tortureth the string. --Bacon.

  15. paulie cannoli Post author

    Torture, according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, is “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions.”

  16. Steven Druckenmiller

    I think it is appropriate for someone to parse through what “severe” means and explain why waterboarding is or is not severe. That word alone is where the line is drawn between inventive interrogation techniques and torture.

    Of course, my only point with this is that the definition is not the miracle of clarity LG seems to think it is.

  17. paulie cannoli Post author

    Waterboarding is a form of torture consisting of immobilizing the victim on his or her back with the head inclined downwards, and then pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages. By forced suffocation and inhalation of water the subject experiences drowning and is caused to believe they are about to die. It is considered a form of torture by legal experts, politicians, war veterans, intelligence officials, military judges, and human rights organizations.As early as the Spanish Inquisition it was used for interrogation purposes, to punish and intimidate, and to force confessions.

    In contrast to submerging the head face-forward in water, waterboarding precipitates a gag reflex almost immediately. The technique does not inevitably or in all cases cause lasting physical damage. It can cause extreme pain, dry drowning, damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, other physical injuries including broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage or, ultimately, death. Adverse physical consequences can start manifesting months after the event; psychological effects can last for years.

  18. Robert Capozzi

    I voted Yes.

    I completely disagree, however, with Prospective Advertiser and #25. That sort of thinking (perhaps in jest) is precisely the problem.

  19. paulie cannoli Post author


    That type of thinking is often the response of the abused, and what causes them to want to become abusers, to reclaim power that was taken from them.

    Many torturers throughout history had been tortured themselves. Many killers had had their friends and family killed. Many rapists had themselves been raped. Many child-beaters had been beaten as children. And so on.

    In fact, military training often involves abusing people so that they become more easily willing to carry out orders to abuse others, or to naturally do so themselves in the course of war and occupation.

  20. John Famularo

    The above multiple definitions with their numerous “ors” demonstrate that for most people the classification of the word “torture” is subjective. Just saying “I can’t define it but I know what it is when I see it” is cute but just proves the point of subjectivity. The original quote by Potter Stewart still does not define “obscene”. Some people like John Ashcroft see a statue of a naked woman as obscene.

    Below is my off the cuff attempt to define “torture” for the purpose of instructing military personnel. In rea;ity it would be longer and more detailed.

    Any procedure that is likely to cause permanent physical damage to an individual. If there is any question, defer to not employing the procedure. Do not employ any procedure for which you have not received certification Do not make any evaluation for which you are not formally qualified. If there is any question, defer to your superior officer. No procedure is to be employed for the sole purpose of cruelty, punishment, or to elicit a confession, The only purpose is to elicit information that is likely to save future casualties. The infliction of physical pain or mental anguish must be the agreed by a panel of competent individuals as the most effective way to elicit the information in a timely manner. The composition of the panel, the duration of the deliberations and the level of authorization shall be determined by the extant circumstances and the imminence and magnitude of the potential future casualties.

    I know this could be even more specific and objective, but this is the flavor of what real people in real crisis situations are faced with. Sitting behind a keyboard is a lot easier and less stressful than being on the front lines responsible for the lives of individuals. Seeing someone die before your eyes even if there is nothing you could have done to save them is haunting for the rest of your life. How much worse must it be to know you could have saved them but were too tearful, hesitant or inhibited to act. Would forcing someone into that position be considered torture?

  21. paulie cannoli Post author

    Yes, not allowing torturers to torture is itself a form of torture. Of course. By using sophistry like this, we can define torture out of existence, and therefore there must be no such thing. If we can’t say it exists, we can’t oppose it. Neat!

  22. Searchingforaparty

    How about this definition?

    Abuse so horrendous that the victim will say anything, true or not, to make it stop. Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? Innocent people will confess, those who are guilty will implicate people they barely know who are not, just to make it stop. Anyone remember reading about the Salem witch trials? Human decency aside, I wouldn’t must trust any information gathered in this way.

  23. Thomas L. Knapp

    We don’t have to agree on a single declarative definition of torture to recognize that waterboarding falls within any reasonable definition of torture.

    Waterboarding has been recognized as a form of torture in both custom and law for as long as the terms “waterboarding” and “torture” have been in the collective vocabulary.”

    If Saddam Hussein had been accused of waterboarding in late 2002, every last one of the peckerwoods defending it now would have been up in arms screaming “Saddam waterboards people — that’s TORTURE.”

  24. Michael Seebeck

    I thought torture was what Redpath and Sullentrup are putting the membership through over their Bylaws violations….

  25. Robert T.

    Is it torture – Yes.
    Should it be used on terrorists if it is believed that it will save the lives of US Citizens – Without a doubt.

    As a parent I can say without a doubt that I’d torture any one of you if it meant saving the life of my child. As a US Citizen I can say without a doubt that I’d torture any terrorist with information that might save any of your lives. When it comes to stopping future attacks on our country, waterboarding is nice. I’d go with a hot poker to the eye if it was believed beyond the shadow of a doubt that somone had information to stop such attacks and refused to cooperate.

  26. libertariangirl

    what if you tortured someone and they gave you what turned out to be false info because they just wanted you to stop?
    what if the person you tortured turned out to be innocent?
    what if because you tortured someone , others were tortured in retaliation?
    what if torture is against the law?

  27. Robert T.

    What if what if what if. Your what-ifs don’t change how I feel about the situation. I could “what if” you to death just the same. When it comes to saving the lives of my family or the lives of US Citizens, “what if” won’t stop me from trying…..what if it works.

  28. Robert T.

    I don’t associate myself with a party. I have some view points that could be considered conservative and some that are considered liberal. I love God, family and country. I find it hard to believe that anyone could say they wouldn’t do whatever it took to either preserve the lives of their family or to prevent an attack like 9/11 or Oaklahoma. If your stance is “oh I can’t harm someone because it’s torture and it’s not right” then I hope to never be in a situation where I depend on you to save me if that’s what it takes to do so. My feelings on the matter having nothing to do with politics or a political party. It’s just how I feel personally.

  29. Erik Geib

    So, Robert…..

    How many more enemies do you think you’ll create by torturing someone? I’d wager that a whole assortment of foreigners could use such an immoral tactic by the U.S. government as the basis for future attacks.

  30. George Phillies

    It is a total disgrace that our party headquarters views this as a debatable question.

    Libertarian fascism is not a legitimate point of view to be expressed by our party.

  31. George Phillies

    The “what if it would save lives” is arguing for war crimes by posing a false hypothetical. It is no different than asking “what if I had a triangle with four corners. The claim was a lying point of the Bush War Crimes Republican Party of Torture to defend their crimes against civilization.

  32. Erik Geib

    I actually think it’s an even larger disgrace to America that we’re even having this debate as citizens. For the LP to pose it is as a question of debate is absolutely shameful, and portions of the results (those who don’t think it’s torture) only confirm the fears of many activists who think the party is moving in the wrong direction.

  33. Robert T.

    How many times will I have to repeat myself. If it comes down to the life of my wife or children, I wouldn’t hesitate to do what it takes to save their lives. I don’t care about who hates me afterwards because family comes first.

    Extrapolate that out:
    When it comes to saving the lives of thousands of US Citizens. Anyone withholding information needed to prevent an attack should be tortured to get that information if they aren’t willing to give it up in a timely fashion to avoid being tortured.

    By allowing such attacks to take place without doing everything in your power to prevent them in itself invites MORE attacks.

  34. Robert T.

    Just to make myself clear again:

    Yes it’s torture. But I think it’s ok to torture 1 individual if it will save the lives of many. Nobody seemed to have a problem with killing 3 priates to save the life of 1 man. Atleast with water boarding your chances of survival are far greater than with being shot in the head by a round from a sniper rifle…..but I guess you think that’s OK because there is no suffering involved.

  35. Erik Geib

    Wow, I don’t recall saying I thought it was okay to snipe people with a rifle (but you can feel free to continue using this type of debate technique, as many others online try to do). That being said, if they fire first it is self-defense to return fire. However, I don’t believe in ‘first strike’ tactics. This is the same non-sense that fooled the nation into backing the Iraq invasion and occupation.

    As for your ‘defense’ theory of your wife, etc. Okay, fine, you tortured someone and (for the sake of your ridiculous argument) it provided info. to stop the attack (which *RARELY* ever happens… 90% of info. obtained is generally a false confession – please read up on your behavioral psych.)… do you not think others, outraged by your use of torture, won’t now try to attack your wife? The crap on “24” is horribly inaccurate in how the human mind functions, and we’re all being brainwashed in this debate. There is no *scientific* (key word here, not military) evidence that strongly supports anything close to torture.

    This ‘first strike’ nonsense is a dangerous line to walk. What next, ‘pre-crime’ intervention?

  36. Steven R Linnabary

    By allowing such attacks to take place without doing everything in your power to prevent them in itself invites MORE attacks.

    That is idiotic. Actually:

    By allowing torture to take place without doing everything in your power to prevent it in itself invites MORE attacks.


  37. Robert T.


    How does torture invite attack? I’ve never heard any enemy of the US use torture as an excuse for attacking us. Honestly I feel there is nothing we can do to prevent being a target of attacks other than convert to Islam and become a 3rd-world country, shut down government and close all abortion clinics. I say this becuase our enemies and other terrorists tend to fall into the following categories:

    *Islam extremists that use their religion as a basis to attack anyone that isn’t Muslim

    * Peole that just don’t like this country because we are a powerful nation.

    * Citizens in this country that don’t like government.

    * People that blow up abortion clinics.

    I’ve never heard of torture as an excuse used to attack us. Good luck at appeasing those that stop at nothing to find new ways to attack us.

  38. Robert T.

    Ah, I left off disgruntled employees and crazy teens that don’t get enough love and attention at home.

  39. Steven R Linnabary


    You are correct that so far, nobody (to my knowledge) has used torture as an excuse to attack us.

    But then you go on to give the four reasons you think they do. And not one of them is a reason that they give.

    The reason they give is that we are over there in their country(s), usually propping up their hated dictator(s).

    And if you don’t think torture will lead to further attacks, then ask yourself why are the photo’s of Abu Ghraib being used as recruitment posters?

    Use some common sense.


  40. Erik Geib

    Hm… maybe that was because we didn’t torture before 9/11. Let’s hear what they have to say after the next round of attacks… how much would you like to bet Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib pop up?

    And they hate us because we’re over there. It’s called blowback. In fact, if you’d read the 9/11 Commission Report (which in my intuition leads me to believe you haven’t), you’d realize they were quite angry at our building of military bases in Saudi Arabia, amongst many other interventionist foreign policy maneuvers.

    Your first two points make you sound like a FOX News junkie and a shill for neo-conservatism, by the way.

  41. Erik Geib

    And before anyone tries to stick me on the “we didn’t torture before 9/11” point, I’d like to say that whatever was done before then wasn’t as widely known, approved, or discussed. It wouldn’t surprise me if we did so before then, but it certainly wasn’t widely known or heavily discussed among the populace.

  42. Robert T.

    We just disagree. I understand your points and your way of looking at the issue, I just don’t agree with it. I’d be willing to torture a small group of evil people if it meant saving the lives of a greater number of my fellow citizens. If there were sufficient cause to believe there was an imminent threat, I wouldn’t be tied down by what people might think of me or who would be mad at me because saving lives, to me, is more important than what people think about my methods to save them.

    Again, I understand where you are coming from, I just don’t agree with you. And I don’t watch FOX news. My feelings on this issue again have nothing to do with any politics or political parties. If someone comes to me and says “he was in your son’s kidnapping but he isn’t talking”, my response is to torture the bastard for information. I would expect that to be the reaction of any parent and that’s also how I feel as it pertains to gathering information on potential attacks on our country.

    Thanks for the dialog.

  43. Michael H. Wilson

    isn’t this news release more relevant to today?

    “Libertarians urge Obama to control border to stem ‘swine flu’.”

  44. Juan Galt

    Conservatives do not believe in civilized behavior. A conservative will do any egregious thing – rape, torture, murder, massacre children – in the name of protecting the power structure. Americans should be ashamed of the conservatives amongst them.

    I am using the term conservative to mean authoritarian. Other previous meanings are no longer current.

    Once upon a time in America conservatives believed in upholding the constitution, defending the bill of rights, and limiting government to the explicit powers delegated to it in order to have a constitutional republic. Today, conservatives and many who call themselves progressives believe in a national government of total power.

    Occupying other people’s countries invites attacks on your military’s occupation troops. Torturing foreigners for any reason invites having your troops tortured. These behaviors also invite attacks on your “homeland” or as the nationalist socialists in Germany called it “heimatland.”

    I find it curious that the so-called Libertarian Party takes so many positions which are clearly authoritarian. Build an iron curtain at the border. Enforce the laws against pornography. Beat up the hippies. Taser the children. Torture the enemies of the state.

    Even when members of the LP have gone to some lengths to put together a resolution against the war in Afghanistan, the LP headquarters has been slow at publishing the passage of that resolution. Who do you guys think you are kidding?

    A half-assed fake commitment to a few libertarian positions does not make the Libertarian Party worthy of support. Which is why not more than about 15% of the people who have ever joined the party and signed the pledge are willing to pay dues these days.

  45. Robert T.

    “conservatives believed in upholding the constitution, defending the bill of rights, and limiting government to the explicit powers delegated to it in order to have a constitutional republic”

    That is still my definition of a conservative. The definition of the word hasn’t changed, it just gets misused. I can call myself Puerto Rican but that doesn’t change what the REAL definition of what it means to be Puerto Rican. Anyone who doesn’t fit the definition of a conservative isn’t a conservative no matter what they say they are. If what you mean is “authoritarian” then call them that.

  46. Erik Geib

    Ok, so tell me, who are these ‘conservatives’ then, according to your definition.? Name some. Because I don’t know any.

    The ‘conservatives’ I know don’t know how to ‘uphold the constitution,’ because they constantly confuse church and state. Many also think that at least one war since WWII has been justified, despite all of them starting without the proper congressional vote (giving a president powers is not the same thing). Most of the conservatives I know only care about the Bill of Rights when it pertains to one of their issues, but hate free speech if it means swearing on public television, flag burning, or war protesting. Most of the conservatives I know support bullshit like DOMA, which is hardly “limiting government to the explicit powers delegated to it.” Most of the conservatives I know don’t care about due process, particularly as it pertains to detainees who are tortured.

    Definitions change with their perception – it happens. Get over it. “Gay” doesn’t just mean “happy” anymore, “liberal” has somehow become synonymous with “progressive” (throwing true ‘liberalism’ under the boat).

    I don’t necessarily agree that conservative and authoritarian are intrinsically linked, but I do think that conservatives are nationalist, cultural socialists. This isn’t to defend “Juan Galt” either, this is to dismiss your definition.

  47. JP

    Below is pulled from a Ron Paul website… It has been clearly identified that these issues with torture have created more enemies for the US.

    Matthew Alexander, author of “How to Break a Terrorist” used non-torture methods of interrogation in Iraq with much success. In fact, one cooperative jihadist told him, “I thought you would torture me, and when you didn’t, I decided that everything I was told about Americans was wrong. That’s why I decided to cooperate.” Alexander also found that in Iraq “the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq.” Alexander’s experiences unequivocally demonstrate that losing our humanity is not beneficial or necessary in fighting terror.

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