I apply the Abraham Lincoln test for moral casuistry: “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.
Ann Althouse says:
But if Hitchens is willing to submit to it as an experiment, it can't be the worst torture. We can easily think of many tortures that he would not have accepted for journalistic purposes and that no one friendly to him would have perpetrated.
Well, no shit. He didn't say it was the worst torture, just that it is torture. I still remember reading Tom Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem, in which he describes the horrible torture methods used by the Syrians, including a chair with the hole in the seat in which a heated spike would slowly be risen up into the subject and then pulled back out.
I don't think Hitchens would go that far for a story, but that doesn't mean that waterboarding isn't torture.
He also brings up the subject of the quality of information derived under torture:
It may be a means of extracting information, but it is also a means of extracting junk information. (Mr. Nance told me that he had heard of someone’s being compelled to confess that he was a hermaphrodite. I later had an awful twinge while wondering if I myself could have been “dunked” this far.)
I don't think confessing you're a hermaphrodite is that big a deal. I wonder how long it would take to get him to confess in the existence of god, though.