‘It was Torture’

Popular talk radio host undergoes waterboarding, changes his mind on nature of technique

Saying that I’m not much of a Keith Olbermann fan would be understatement of the year. Olbermann, Dan Patrick and Craig Kilborn were just about as good as it gets when it came to sports broadcasting, but the post-Sportscenter incarnation of this self-important, bombastic dimwit leaves much to be desired.

That being said, I was extremely interested while watching his recent interview with Libertarian radio talk show host Erich “Mancow” Muller. Like most of the folks on the right side of the political spectrum, Muller apparently insisted for a long time that waterboarding was not torture. Personally, my opinion is more along the lines of a heartless “who cares?” but I nonetheless found myself thinking about this interview long after watching it.

I’m a don’t-knock-it-unless-you-try-it guy. I don’t like wondering what might have been, and that attitude is present in every aspect of my life, right down to encouraging my three-year-old to try those brussels sprouts before deciding against them and falling back on the macaroni and cheese. In all honestly, I’d like to try being waterboarded; find me a CIA official willing to do so, find me a pen with which to sign the official Nancy Pelosi liability waiver, and call me Khalid Sheikh McSchreiber. I might end up not liking it, I might end up telling you the combination to my big fire safe, but I’m not going to knock it unless I try it.

Now, what does that mean in terms of reconciling what was said by Mr. Muller? I don’t know. I cannot imagine that I would enjoy being waterboarded–admitting that I’d enjoy the opportunity to try it is leagues away from claiming that I would enjoy the process–but, then, is that not the entire point?

Waterboarding, even from what this particular radio host said, gives the perception of drowning. As an American that would rather not see another fellow American die in a terrorist attack, I’d venture to say that the reality of a bullet to the head is far too kind and gracious for these people — the mere perception of drowning, facilitated in an attempt to garner information that has even the remote possibility of saving American lives, seems just fine to me.



  1. Anonymous says:

    Even Demi Moore was subjected to waterboarding in SEAL training…Now I’m wondering if that is an actual part of SEAL training or something added to the movie for effect.

    If they had just taken detainees long ago and turned them over to the countries they were fighting in we wouldn’t be having this PC problem.No one said war was a picnic….but waterboarding isn’t supposed to be easy or fun …it’s interrogation to elicit information from the enemy…it’s not beheading or murder on film for impact.

    Let’s see now ..Beheaded or made to think you’re being drowned…which one would you pick?

  2. Anonymous says:

    you know, military personnel have to undergo capture, torture and gassing as part of their training…no one ever comments about that

  3. Gail B says:

    Well, they didn’t drown him. This was video-taped for television for a real purpose.

    They didn’t cut his head off with a machete and hold it up on camera as they did Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg.

    Mr. Muller came back and discussed the experience, something difficult to do when one’s head is not attached. Yes, he suffered discomfort; he admitted having chest pains and praying with his family about it.

    What the Islamic terrorists did to Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg is barbaric. Mr. Muller is still breathing.

  4. average working man says:

    We are at war with people who WILL DIE IN THE ACT OF KILLING INNOCENT CIVILIANS. They mutilate bodies and use far more unethical forms of torture for the intent of inflicting suffering. They kill without discretion. They mutilate the bodies of their percieved enemies. What other way is proposed to make these people talk? (besides infiltration, which is a great risk to the brave people that are charged with the task, thank you for keeping us safe) Yes, it may be torture, but it is not mutilation or casual execution. There are far worse ways to torture, but with an enemy with this mindset it is most likely the only effective course of action that will save innocent lives. Torture for torture’s sake is cruel and unforgivable. Torture to save the lives of innocent people is justified, even if it is a P.R. nightmare. The ends justify the means, plain and simple.

    Unfortunately, any version of endorsement of torture by the government is scary in itself, because any accomodation of torture will open the door for it to inevitbly be misused. This is a cat that should not have been let out of the bag. There are too many secrets floating around on the news, unfortunately being used as political tools. There is too much politics involved with national security, and it is not the government but the people who are bound to suffer.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Haven’t more journalists been water boarded than Gitmo detainees?

  6. Todd Family Times says:

    I thought torture was actually having the chance you could die, not just feeling like your going to die. I feel like I’m going to die when I run sometimes, is that torture? Tell him go through natural child birth, then he would be begging to be water boarded.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I wish someone would waterboard the Keith OberMORON for good or maybe have him volunteer to be decapitated so he can see which one is worse.

    Democrats are against the war BUT Fund it Everytime. They are in Favor of closing Guantanamo BUT WON’T FUND IT…..and they call other hypocrits?

    Losing jobs at the rate we are going soon no one will be paying taxes…..O’Bushama MISSION ACCOMPLISHED now we know what you menat by 95% not paying taxes. Hard to pay taxes after losing your job.

    Where’s the Birth Certificate?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Help me understand the structure of this argument:

    1) What terrorists do is worse that waterboarding.
    2) Waterboarding is not torture.

    No one argues that waterboarding is worse than beheading. But, I don't see how that fact means #1 –> #2.

    Is that all there is to this argument? Or am I missing something?

    –Brad (Jeff's friend)

  9. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t see the interview with “Mancow”, but his pronouncement (that waterboarding is indeed torture) is hilarious.

    Going by what you and others have quoted him as saying, I would conclude that he came away from the experience feeling exactly the way he was supposed to; dreading beyond words the repetition of the procedure. What did he expect, that he would somehow come away saying, “heck, that wasn’t too bad. I don’t know why anyone would complain about that”?

    Well, duh!

    With all due respect to John McCain, I’d call it “effective interrogation”, not torture. Torture is when you come out with broken bones and dislocated joints and missing body parts. That’s if you survive it. I haven’t heard of anyone actually dying from waterboarding.

    Old Bob

  10. JEFF SCHREIBER says:

    Help me understand the structure of this argument:

    1) What terrorists do is worse that waterboarding.
    2) Waterboarding is not torture.

    No one argues that waterboarding is worse than beheading. But, I don't see how that fact means #1 –> #2.

    Is that all there is to this argument? Or am I missing something?

    –Brad (Jeff's friend)Brad, you know me, I don’t think there is an argument.

    Regardless, I think that THIS GUY definitely makes an absolutely hilarious point:

    Anonymous said…

    Haven’t more journalists been water boarded than Gitmo detainees?

    May 28, 2009 1:16 AMIf I had tee shirts or something to give out, he or she would get one.

  11. Gail B says:

    We should have tee shirts made up that say “I can survive waterboarding…but not beheading.”

  12. Todd Family Times says:

    P.s. Good thing he is a radio host and thank God he would get weeded out of the Navy Seals. Give me a break, it is suppose to be extremely uncomfortable, thats why it works!

  13. DIRTY HARRY says:

    Behead them FIRST, then waterboard their little noggins.

  14. QueMan says:

    Farking WIMP!!!!! Talk big but a wuss at heart!

    Thank God you never served in the military you dumass — you would have thrown the white flag up in seconds during battle.

    I think you are a disgrace to manhood so you should change your handle to ‘chickencow’!!!

  15. cal says:

    The disappointing thing about the interview is Olberman’s ending statement – nobody should go through this – and Mancow accepting the statement. There is a difference between doing this to a terrorist who has information that could save thousands of innocent lives and doing this to just any old soldier in uniform on the battlefield. Terrorists are not playing by any rules and their targets are not other soldiers, but civilians of all ages. I’d be willing to bet that if Olberman thought that one of the terrorists had information that could save his life, he would call if the waterboarding. (Notice I do not suggest that Olberman would be too worried with anyone else’s life.)

  16. Lilly says:

    Todd Family Times – Amen!
    Mancow is a popular DJ in Chicago. DJ’s want ratings, period. They are not in war nor have been trained to be captured.

  17. chris from chicago says:

    What Mancow failed to mention is that when he was a little boy he fell into a pond and effectively drowned..until his little brother found him…and he was resuscitated…that may be the reason
    he freaked out right upon being waterboarded…this country is turning out to be governed by a bunch of elitist pantywaists, who are far removed from reality, and really..chicken to their very core….where have all the men gone?

  18. IZ says:

    When I read the title, I thought first that Hannity had gone through with it. But even before reading on I realized that it couldn’t be him, because he would never change his mind on the issue, at least not publically. I agree with many posters here, no one ever claimed waterboarding wasn’t extremely uncomfortable. Do critics suppose we could get vital info from these hardened killers by caressing their hair and stroking their cheeks?

    “No one should have to go through this”. No one should have to be forced to choose between burning alive or jumping 90 stories to their deaths either, but that is the reality of this world and more specifically this war we are fighting. These guys have done nothing to deserve our sympathies or to enjoy our constitutional rights. Politics clouds common sense.

  19. T.I.M. says:

    1) This was apparently worse than “real” waterboarding, as Mancow’s face and mouth were uncovered (the actual process is done, per films, with a cloth covering both the nose and mouth.
    2) The comment that waterboarding would cause anyone to confess misses the point that the US waterboarding provided evidence of real attacks being planned that were stopped, thus saving real lives.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Jeff, you need to get out more and make some new friends; some, unlike “Brad”, who have actually had to make life and death choices – for others. In those cases, the “argument” isn’t a nuanced theoretical problem in logic; it’s for or against doing whatever is necessary for the survival of persons who want nothing more than to come home from work, kiss their wife, play with their kids, and be alive to do it again tomorrow.

    As for waterboarding, sure, I’d prefer to never have to resort to that, but if that procedure has even the remotest potential to save thousands of innocent lives without taking the life of a potential perpetrator of another 9/11, I’d do it in a heartbeat and consider myself a spineless coward if I refused to do it on the basis that it offended my sense of morality. As my Dad used to say to me, “Any excuse will do.”

    Obamaites still want to believe in that fantasy land where, if we’re just nicer to terrorists than their own Sharia law calls for, we’ll make belieivers out of them and then everyone will love us because we talk in platitudes and wear a big grin all the time.

    Humanists, one and all.

    Old Bob

  21. Anonymous says:

    [This is part one of two parts]

    I received this via email yesterday and thought it very pertinent to your article.
    -chuck in San Diego
    Thoughts from Medal of Honor winner, Col Bud Day USAF(RET) about his time as a prisoner in North Vietnam.




    Fox News Channel Salutes Medal of Honor Winner Colonel Bud Day.

    “I didn’t expect to be reminded of my treatment some 36 years ago, on this holiday weekend but our politicians find it worthy to ignore what some have tried to recount to them, who have actually been there”. Case in point below.


    Dear Kelly:

    Thanks for the “heads up” on the Medal of Honor spots. Some of my friends have seen it already and mentioned it. I sent a copy of my book to Fox News in D.C., and wanted Sean Hannity to be able to talk about what torture really is.

    He has no one on his side to talk about torture..who has been tortured. He is free to quote from the many illustrations that I provided in my book Duty Honor Country I got shot down over N Vietnam in 1967..a sq commander.

    After I returned in 1973.. I published 2 books that dealt a lot with “real torture” in Hanoi. Our make believe president is branding our country as a bunch of torturers when he has no idea what torture is. ****e.g * as for me..put thru a mock execution because I would not respond…pistol whipped on the head…same event.. Couple of days later…hung by my feet all day.

    I escaped and got recaptured a couple of weeks later.. I got shot and recaptured. Shot was OK…what happened after was not.

    They marched me to Vinh.. put me in the rope trick, trick..almost pulled my arms out of the sockets Beat me on the head with a little wooden rod until my eyes were swelled shut, and my unshot, unbroken hand a pulp.

    Next day hung me by the arms…rebroke my right wrist…wiped out the nerves in my arms that control the hands..rolled my fingers up into a ball.

    [End of Part 1]

  22. Anonymous says:

    [Part two of two]

    Only left the slightest movement of my L forefinger. So I started answering with some incredible lies.

    Sent me to Hanoi strapped to a barrel of gas in the back of a truck.

    Hanoi..on my knees..rope trick again. Beaten by a big fool.

    Into leg irons on a bed in Heartbreak Hotel.

    Much kneeling–hands up at Zoo.

    Really bad beating for refusing to condemn Lyndon Johnson.

    Several more kneeling events. I could see my knee bone thru kneeling holes.

    There was an escape from the annex to the Zoo. I was the Senior Officer of a large building because of escape..they started a mass torture of all commanders.

    I think it was July 7, 1969..they started beating me with a car fan belt.

    In first 2 days I took over 300 strokes..then stopped counting because I never thought I would live thru it.

    They continued day-nite torture to get me to confess to a non-existent part in the escape. This went on for at least 3 days. On my knees..fan belting.. cut open my scrotum with fan belt stroke. opened up both knee holes again. My fanny looked like hamburger..I could not lie on my back.

    They tortured me into admitting that I was in on the escape..and that my 2 room-mates knew about it.

    The next day I denied the lie.

    They commenced torturing me again with 3- 6- or 9 strokes of the fan belt every day from about July 11 or 12rh..to 14 October 1969. I continued to refuse to lie about my roommates again.

    Now, the point of this is that our make-believe president has declared to the world that we (U.S.) are a bunch of torturers.. Thus it will be OK to torture us next time when they catch us….because that is what the U.S. does.

    Our make-believe president is a know nothing fool who thinks that pouring a little water on some one’s face, or hanging a pair of womens pants over an Arabs head is TORTURE. He is a meathead.

    I just talked to MOH holder Leo Thorsness who was also in my sq in jail as was John McCain..and we agree that McCain does not speak for the POW group when he claims that Al Gharib was torture.. or that “water boarding” is torture.

    Our president and those fools around him who keep bad mouthing our great country are a disgrace to the United States.

    Please pass this info on to Sean Hannity.

    He is free to use it to point out the stupidity of the claims that water boarding ..which has no after effect..is torture. If it got the Arab to cough up the story about how he planned the attack on the twin towers in NYC…hurrah for the guy who poured the water.

    Bud Day, MOH

  23. Claudia says:


    in other words if you don’t think you an stand the punishment, don’t to the crime.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Old Bob @ 10:53AM actually answered my question (despite the personal attack)–he said the question is if one is “for or against doing whatever is necessary” to keep us safe.

    Now, if that’s really the justification, why are these comparisons with beheading, etc., relevant at all? Those comments make it sound more like revenge, rather than getting information, is the underlying motivation.

    And, for Old Bob and others–is it really the case you would endorse doing “doing whatever is necessary”–with absolutely no limit at all? Or, if there is a limit, what is it? Clearly you think waterboarding is on the table. Is anything off the table?


  25. Anonymous says:

    Colonel Day and many others could testify about torture. It is ridiculous that we are so concerned about being PC to ruthless murderers. Most of the critics of waterboarding have never served in the military and undergone what Col. Day has described. We all wish we never had to hear about terrorists but they have made it obvious that they seek our destruction so we must do everything we can to protect ourselves. Do we honestly think the terrorists or the world community will have more ‘respect’ for us if we don’t use enhanced interrogation techniques? That is BS! When will our government have more concern for our citizens than our enemies?

  26. Anonymous says:

    even if we kno its not tortue since we have a physician in tow – - its meant to feel like torture. what results will you expect if the person being interrogated KNEW you were just playing with him????

    its all about the mindset. thanks to obama and his anxiousness to help out our enemies we no longer have a single defense in that regard because they now know our form of government PREVENTS us from going all the way and they all know as long as they can hold on they need not fear anything or tell you where they plant to blow up another city?

    now obama wants them on our soil so they have the same priviliges and thereby exposing in print what our CIA IS AND IS NOT DOING???

    obama even wants to change the course of the CIA, wanting to choose himself who is in charge of what embassy in what country. ANOTHER EFFORT TO MAKE SURE OUR ENEMIES ARE EQUIPPED WITH KNOWING HOW TO DEAL WITH US?

  27. Anonymous says:

    Guess they didn’t want to go with the man and caterpillar in same room choice!

  28. whats_up says:

    And, for Old Bob and others–is it really the case you would endorse doing “doing whatever is necessary”–with absolutely no limit at all? Or, if there is a limit, what is it? Clearly you think waterboarding is on the table. Is anything off the table?


    This is really the question isnt it? Are you for torture or not, and if you are are there any limits, if there are why?

  29. Anonymous says:

    Dear Brad.

    Your’s is a false question – sort of like the hypothetical “boat” question from Logic 101. The real question is “If you are responsible for the lives of countless innocent persons of all ages and means and you have a person in custody who you know has already participated in planning the death of 3000 innocent civilians, and you honestly believe that that person has information that could prevent another similar – or worse – attack, is there any limit you would place on methods used to obtain that information?

    The answer is “Yes”. I wouldn’t kill him. Other than that, the answer is a resounding “No”. But it would not be torture; it would simply be the price that the person pays for having put himself in that situation and I beleive that it would pass the “reasonable man” test every time.

    Old Bob

    P.S. I apologize for my earlier comment which contained a personal barb. That’s not fair, and I’ll be more careful in the future.

  30. Anonymous says:

    So Erich “Mancow” Muller subjected himself to being water-boarded, and then claimed “it was indeed torture.” The question would have to asked: Compared to what other kinds of torture techniques was Mancow subjected to, even know if water-boarding was that bad? The next question to Mancow, if he knew a combatant had information that would save lives, including his own family, would he use water boarding?

  31. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if these anti-waterboarding fools would have been saying the same thing on 9-10? If we had one of those suspects in confinement would it have been protested against if we could get the info we needed to stop 9-11? Or would it have been the same story and 3000 Americans would have died because of their silly love, peace, and unity crap?

  32. vcw39 says:

    Watched ‘Jesse “The Body” Ventura’ on Fox News saying that water boarding was used in his Navy Seal training and that he considers it torture.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Oh, so that’s what caused his intellectual deficiency. I always wondered. Lack of oxygen to the brain will do it every time.

    Old Bob

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