Is waterboarding torture?

The Democrats on Senate Judiciary give the nominee for Attorney General a little lesson in history and law.

Does the Pope say mass?

Does a bear sh*t in the woods?

C’mon, fellas! Ask me a hard one.

Other than, perhaps, the rack and thumbscrews, water-boarding is the most iconic example of torture in history. It was devised, I believe, in the Spanish Inquisition.


Following World War II, the United States prosecuted Japanese military personnel as war criminals for waterboarding U.S. prisoners.

Footnote Note that not a single Republican Senator signed the letter to Mukasey.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: