On May 1, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer conceded in a column that waterboarding is torture. Krauthammer argued that torture is justifiable “under two circumstances” and that in those cases “you do what you have to do. And that includes waterboarding.” But in an interview on Dennis Miller’s radio show today, Krauthammer said that he didn’t mean it when he wrote that waterboarding is torture:
MILLER: And I’m going to move beyond that and say the pertinent question to me is, is it necessary. Where do you stand on this?
KRAUTHAMMER: You know, I’m in the midst of writing a column for this week, which is exactly on that point. 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. We know what it is. We know what actually happened. Should it have been done and did it work? Those are the only important questions.
No where in Krauthammer’s original article did he say that he was making the concession for the sake of argument. Given his comments to Miller, it seems that Krauthammer feels comfortable asserting claims in his Washington Post column that he doesn’t actually believe to be true. Responding to falsehoods in a previous Krauthammer column, Yglesias once wrote that “the only question is why The Washington Post thinks it’s a good idea to publish columns that are designed to mislead its audience rather than to inform its audience.” It’s still a good question.