The Frequently Ticking Time Bomb

Marcy Wheeler offers some close reading and observes that “According to the May 30, 2005 Bradbury memo, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003 and Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002.”

This should, I think, put to rest the notion that some kind of ticking time bomb story lies at the heart of the Bush administration’s torture policy. And of course once you start torturing people, the tendency is for torture to always become excessive. Among other things, normal people aren’t going to want to torture anyone. So after the first few dozen torture sessions, your more well-adjusted torturers are going to find themselves drifting out of the torture business and you’re left more with the people who like torturing. Maybe they’re sadists or just eager to avenge 9/11 or god knows what. But that how your torturing sessions can end up in the triple digits.