Keep New Times Free

Marco Rubio on Waterboarding

"We need to find out how this information was gathered," said Marco Rubio to the Tampa Tribune, referring to the intelligence on Osama Bin Laden's courier that led to last Sunday's raid. "Again, this is not for the purposes of saying we were right and you were wrong. It's for understanding what works and what doesn't."

Didja catch that? That was Marco Rubio, a popular Republican statesman, admitting that he doesn't know whether waterboarding was essential to the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Why can't more Republicans talk this way?

Rubio is absolutely right, of course. We don't know whether waterboarding yielded the necessary intel. Those who do know aren't talking specifics, and they should. Not because the revelation that torture worked in this particular instance would constitute proof that torture is always, or even ever, a good idea -- the costs to America's credibility and moral authority may (may!) outweigh the benefits to our national security incurred by Sunday's operation. We need to know simply because it's impossible to have an intelligent debate on the subject without possessing the relevant data.

Contrast Rubio's mellow inquisitiveness to the horrible presumption of House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King, who insisted earlier this week on The O'Reilly Factor that:

...we obtained information several years ago, vital information about the courier for [Osama]. We obtained that information through waterboarding... It came from an overseas prison where Khaled Sheik Mohammed was being interrogated. Waterboarding was used, and it was during the interrogation of Khaled Sheik Mohammed, through waterboarding, that this information was learned.

Two possibilities present themselves: Either King was sharing top-secret info that the administration was trying to hush up or else he was babbling. (Everything I've read suggests that the info from Khaled Sheik Mohammed came from "standard interrogations" performed months after he was waterboarded, though what info may have been revealed by other waterboardees remains a mystery, at least to me. Too many stories have been published this week for me to stay completely up-to-date, so if anybody's got some clarifying info, please don't hesitate to post in the comments.)

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of South Florida and help keep the future of New Times free.

King's comments typified the reaction of the gung-ho torture crowd whose collective dissembling has gotten a little disheartening. Many thanks to Rubio for not claiming to know what he can't know. Humility is the essence of wisdom.

Follow The Juice on Facebook and on Twitter: @TheJuiceBPB.

Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in South Florida.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in South Florida.