Reading Richard Cohen: A fate worse than waterboarding | Harper's Magazine

Sign in to access Harper’s Magazine

Need to create a login? Want to change your email address or password? Forgot your password?

  1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
  2. Select Email/Password Information.
  3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.

Locked out of your account? Get help here.

Subscribers can find additional help here.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!

Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
Subscribe for Full Access
Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
[Washington Babylon]

Reading Richard Cohen: A fate worse than waterboarding


Like Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, I too am “torn between my desire for absolute security and my abhorrence of torture.”

How can one solve this dilemma? Easy–cancel your subscription to the Post. That’s the only was to assure with absolute security that you won’t be tortured by reading one of Cohen’s idiotic columns.

Is there any columnist in America as obviously senile and banal as Cohen? If you can stomach it, read a few paragraphs from his column today, and what he and his editors deem to be original thinking:

No one can possibly believe that America is now safer because of the new restrictions on enhanced interrogation and the subsequent appointment of a special prosecutor. The captured terrorist of my fertile imagination, assuming he had access to an Internet cafe, knows about the special prosecutor. He knows his interrogator is under scrutiny. What person under those circumstances is going to spill his beans?

Ah yes, the interrogator must build rapport with the captured terrorist. That might work, but it would take time. It could take a lot of time. Building rapport is clearly the preferred method, but the terrorist is going to know all about it. He will bide his time. How much time do we have?

The questions of what constitutes torture and what to do with those who, maybe innocently, applied what we now define as torture have to be removed from the political sphere. They cannot be the subject of an ideological tug of war, both sides taking extreme and illogical positions — torture never works, torture always works, torture is always immoral, torture is moral if it saves lives. Torture always is ugly. So, though, is the hole in the ground where the World Trade Center once stood.

Here’s a possible way out of the torture debate: the Obama administration could put all suspected terrorists in a locked room with nothing to read but Richard Cohen columns. Trust me, they’ll break.

More from