There was one thing, though, that neither dday nor Elsinora (the Kossack in question) tackled (maybe because it was just too depressing to unpick) the way I would have, which was this exchange ("me", of course, refers to Elsinora):
ME: After WWII, the Tokyo Tribunal was basically the Nuremberg Trials for Japan. Many Japanese leaders were put on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including torture. And among the tortures listed was the "water treatment," which we nowadays call waterboarding...dday points out that this is muddying a clear precedent. My argument would be more damning that that. I think that even if Ashcroft is right, and there is a difference between "forcing" and "pouring", which is ridiculous stance to take, but never mind (I guess Ashcroft isn't using "forcing" in the sense of "entering without permission" so much as "using force beyond that which is supplied by gravity"; one can only assume he'd be fine with holding a person upright and pumping water into their mouths and nostrils at a rate consistent with the flow of water downhill), he is still implicitly making the case (by refusing to either admit either that current tactics are bad or that the Japanese gentleman in question was unjustly punished), that a fractional change in the velocity of the water used should genuinely make the difference between morally justifiable and punishable by a decade and a half of hard labour.
ASHCROFT: (interrupting) This is a speech, not a question. I don't mind, but it's not a question.
ME: It will be, sir, just give me a moment. The judgment describes this water treatment, and I quote, "the victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach." One man, Yukio Asano, was sentenced to fifteen years hard labor by the allies for waterboarding American troops to obtain information. Since Yukio Asano was trying to get information to help defend his country--exactly what you, Mr. Ashcroft, say is acceptible for Americans to do--do you believe that his sentence was unjust? (boisterous applause and shouts of "Good question!")
ASHCROFT: (angrily) Now, listen here. You're comparing apples and oranges, apples and oranges. We don't do anything like what you described.
ME: I'm sorry, I was under the impression that we still use the method of putting a cloth over someone's face and pouring water down their throat...
ASHCROFT: (interrupting, red-faced, shouting) Pouring! Pouring! Did you hear what she said? "Putting a cloth over someone's face and pouring water on them." That's not what you said before! Read that again, what you said before!
ME: Sir, other reports of the time say...
ASHCROFT: (shouting) Read what you said before! (cries of "Answer her fucking question!" from the audience) Read it!
ME: (firmly) Mr. Ashcroft, please answer the question.
ASHCROFT: (shouting) Read it back!
ME: "The victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach."
ASHCROFT: (shouting) You hear that? You hear it? "Forced!" If you can't tell the difference between forcing and pouring...does this college have an anatomy class? If you can't tell the difference between forcing and pouring...
ME: (firmly and loudly) Mr. Ashcroft, do you believe that Yukio Asano's sentence was unjust? Answer the question. (pause)
ASHCROFT: (more restrained) It's not a fair question; there's no comparison. Next question! (loud chorus of boos from the audience)
So my question (this wasn't a speech either) is this. Can anyone out there think of a situation in which such a tiny difference (i.e. a rate of flow greater than the terminal velocity of a water stream) in methodology can suddenly change the legal and moral into the illegal and harshly punished?
Update: Yes, I promised something lighter, and delivered torture. I am not always to be trusted.