Rudy Giuliani is enough to make you want to believe in Hell.

Rudy Giuliani seems to be running for Sadist-in-Chief. Not only does he think that repeatedly putting someone through the sensation of drowning (that’s what “waterboarding” means) might or might not be torture, depending on who does it, he’s now making fun of the idea that sleep deprivation &#8212 one of the favorite techniques of the KGB, guaranteed to lead to psychosis if carried on long enough &#8212 constitutes torture.

They talk about sleep deprivation. I mean, on that theory, I’m getting tortured running for president of the United States. That’s plain silly. That’s silly.

John McCain, in one of his occasional imitations of a vertebrate, hit Giuliani where it hurts, saying that if Giuliani really doesn’t know that simulated drowning is torture that reflects his inexperience. “All I can say.” said McCain about the waterboard, “is that it was used in the Spanish Inquisition.”

Footnote Any bets on whether Giuliani charges McCain with anti-Catholic bias for referring to the Inquisition? I wouldn’t put it past him.

Update A reader points out that this is unfair to Giuliani; maybe he’s just in a temporary psychotic break due to the torture of his self-imposed sleep deprivation. That’s a reasonable point. But I knew Giuliani during his tenure as Associate Attorney General back in 1981. Twenty-six years is longer than normal for a temporary psychosis.

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: