NEVER MIND WHAT KRAUTHAMMER SAID BEFORE…. Just two weeks ago, in a strikingly unpersuasive column, Charles Krauthammer did his best to present a defense for occasional uses of torture. In the same column, however, Krauthammer conceded that waterboarding is torture and that torture is “an impermissible evil.”
It was clear from the argument that when Krauthammer said torture is an “impermissible evil,” he meant it, except for the part about it being impermissible, and the part about it being evil. But just as important, Matt Corley reported that Krauthammer appeared on a radio show yesterday and reversed course on waterboarding, too.
“Some people on the right have faulted me because in that column that you cite I conceded that waterboarding is torture. Actually, I personally don’t think it is cause it’s an absurdity to have to say the United States of America has tortured over 10,000 of its own soldiers because its, you know, it’s had them waterboarded as a part of their training. That’s an absurd sentence.
“So, I personally don’t think it is but I was willing to concede it in the column without argument exactly as you say to get away from the semantic argument, which is a waste of time and to simply say call it whatever you want.”
There’s obviously a lot of nonsense here. The SERE argument, for example, is patently absurd, and Krauthammer knows it.
But notice that Krauthammer tries to rationalize making a concession in his printed column that he didn’t actually believe. He doesn’t believe waterboarding is torture, but said the opposite in a Washington Post piece to “get away from the semantic argument”? What does that even mean?
For that matter, why should Washington Post readers consider — or Washington Post editors publish — Krauthammer’s arguments if he’s willing to make claims he admittedly doesn’t support?
A columnist relies, above all else, on his or her credibility as an observer. If Krauthammer had a legitimate change of heart — he used to believe torture is torture, but has since gained learned additional information — that’s fine. But he’s arguing that he intentionally made a claim he doesn’t believe for rhetorical purposes. That’s hardly in line with the standards of a professional.
Post Script: As for the substance of Krauthammer’s torture apologetics, an Army National Guard lieutenant colonel has a few words for the Post columnist.