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Conclusive Proof that Waterboarding Played Vital Role in Killing of Usama aka Osama bin Laden.

By Jim Wrenn, Editor, PoliSat.Com , PoliticalXray.Com . 

May 9, 2011--

            Many, if not most, commentators in the currently raging political debate over whether "waterboarding" played a vital role in the killing of Usama bin Laden, a.k.a. Osama bin Laden, ignore widely known, conclusive evidence on the issue.  The issue has even spilled-over into the T-shirt industry, which is experiencing a huge boost in t-shirts (or tee-shirts) focusing on the killing of bin Laden in the special-forces mission in Pakistan by Navy SEALS commonly described by a since-replaced name, "SEAL Team Six" or "SEAL Team 6."  

              What is the indisputable "conclusive proof" that absent waterboarding, the United States would have been unable to accomplish that mission?  It's long been known that among the training requirements for all U.S. Special Forces (such as SEALS) and all military combat pilots is the requirement that candidates for such military assignments endure waterboarding.  Absent the intensely demanding nature of training which candidates for such assignments must successfully complete, we would not have any Special Forces or SEALS teams even remotely capable of performing such incredibly dangerous missions.

               Critics of waterboarding tend to equate it with gouging-out eyes, pulling-out fingernails, cutting-off tongues, burning the skin with cigarettes, and other actions that cause physical harm.  The purpose of waterboarding is to instill fear and to reduce the psychological will to resist interrogation.  There are other ways to induce fear and/or reduce the will to resist:  e.g., telling a prisoner that his failure to provide reliable information will result in his being turned-over to the "tender mercies" of interrogation agents of other governments less restrained by civility, an interrogator telling a prisoner that his being able to persuade the prisoner to reveal information would result in his being replaced with a completely ruthless interrogator, etc..  Virtually no one seriously argues that the mere making of such "threats" constitutes "torture." 

               Supporters of President Obama's order permitting the SEALS to kill bin laden implicitly recognize the principle of justified homicide in the context of confronting an enemy combatant leader of an organization at war with the United States.   The legal concept of justified homicide rests on the moral relationship between means and ends.  We're all familiar with the hackneyed phrase used to condemn opponents characterized as believing "the end justifies the means," but few such hackneyed phrases are used more illogically to promote opposition to an opponent's actions.   The real issue in such contexts is whether a particular end justifies particular means.   In the context of law enforcement, for example, a police officer reasonably believing a suspect known to be ruthlessly violent to be armed with a hidden weapon (e.g., an explosive device) or to be within reach of a lethal weapon has a legally justifiable basis for killing the suspect.  It's a form of justified homicide.  Yet such critics seem intellectually incapable of applying that same standard to interrogation of enemy combatants because they (such critics) refuse to recognize that particular circumstances may justify particular interrogation techniques (e.g., waterboarding) not deemd to be warranted under different circumstances.  Thus, the question is, "Why can't such critics recognize the concept of 'justified' waterboarding" -- especially in the interrogation of enemy combatants whose very form of warfare violates every aspect of the international conventions on the scope of interrogation of lawful-combatant military personnel of nation-states by other nation-states.  This is the question implicitly posed (and answered) by  t-shirts (front-only and front & back) depicting "Osama's Last Words" before being (justifiably) shot by the SEALS.

               There are other aspects of the SEALS mission yielding the death of Usama bin Laden that provide important moral insights into a contrast between the Western Civilization standards exemplified by such mission and the barbaric standards routinely exhibited by organizations such as al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc.   The SEALS intentionally sought to avoid inflicting injury on children (and women) in the compound.  Contrast that with the recent incident in Israel in which terrorists entered a private Israeli residence at night and slaughtered every member of the Israeli family-- including the slitting of the throat of a sleeping infant, which incident Gazan supporters of Hamas celebrated in the streets upon learning the news of such slaughter.

--Jim Wrenn

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