December 19th, 2007
06:05 PM ET
11 years ago

Giuliani: Waterboarding may be acceptable

CNN's Wolf Blitzer interviewed Giuliani on board the CNN Election Express Wednesday.

(CNN) - Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday that waterboarding should not be used regularly in interrogations, but might be called for in a “once in a lifetime, once in a decade situation.”

"Having looked at this, it certainly should not be a practice that should go on generally,” the former mayor of New York said in an interview in Columbia, Missouri.

But Giuliani told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that there may be situations where waterboarding - a technique where a person undergoes simulated drowning - would be warranted to obtain critical information from an alleged terrorist, such as the location of a nuclear bomb about to explode.

Many human rights organizations consider waterboarding to be torture.

"I don't think you can write this out as a procedure that should be write out for all situations,” Giuliani said. “I think the president and the appropriate officials should have some discretion here.”

– Senior Political Producer Scott Anderson

Filed under: Rudy Giuliani
soundoff (134 Responses)
  1. Anonymous New Yrok, NY

    Is Rudy then prepared to say that we should apologize to the Japanse who used water torture against B-29 aircrew in an attempt to prevent firebombing of their cities. Is he prepared to say those Japanese interrogators were wrongly convicted? I'd like to see him say that while looking our World War II vets in the eye.

    December 19, 2007 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  2. Brian, Tulsa, OK

    when I think of torture, I certainly do not think of waterboarding. torture is sawing off a limb, putting someone's feet to the fire, shoving bamboo shoots up someone's finger nails. scaring a terrorist, making him think he is drowning is not torture – it's a mental game. Key members of Congress knew of our waterboarding of the 3 men we have only officially waterboarded and they didn't care. but now – oh, yeah – boohoo on waterboarding.

    waterboarding works – we waterboarded KSM in 2003 and he helped us capture 6 other terrorists known to have killed americans.

    December 19, 2007 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  3. Jeff, New York, NY

    Great! After having seen the comments above, I wish to congratulate Osama bin Laden. You won! I tip my hat off to you.

    Glad to see Americans hate America so much more than the terrorists.

    America will never be destroyed by the nuts in the world from abroad. It will be destroyed by the nuts we have here.

    When in Rome.....

    December 19, 2007 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  4. Len, Fallbrook, CA

    I would dare say that most of you clowns that are against waterboarding would be the first ones in line looking for a lawyer (John Edwards comes to mind) that would sue the government after the next terrorist attack for not doing enough to prevent that attack.

    I have read that exactally three terrorists of Muslim/Islamist persuasion have been waterboarded, with one having a devine visit from Allah to help him reconsider his thought process. Good intel was gathered from two, and lives were saved.

    I suspect most of you may be of the Bill Richardson mentality (human rights over national security) but I'll go with Rudy on this one.

    Just because you have the tools, does not mean you have to use them, but it is nice to know they are there. Our enemies should know we have those tools at our disposal.

    The hard part is knowing that you will have every attention grabbing politician and lawyer second guessing the decision to use this process after the fact.

    December 19, 2007 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  5. Brian, Tulsa, OK

    after reading a few comments from some readers who are VERY uninformed about waterboarding, I felt I should add this:

    if waterboarding is done correctly, water will not enter the lungs. that is why it is quite simply, a "mental game". it feels like you are drowning because there is water in your mouth and you can barely breath. people barely can stand more than about 14 seconds.

    I would rather waterboard a terrorist than give an american condolences for their dead family member.

    we will never win a politically correct war.

    December 19, 2007 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  6. Jim in Orlando, FL

    When I was in the military in the 70's, there were certain advanced schools, for the elite soldiers, where we water-boarded our own soldiers, hooked them up to mild electric shock chairs, and at times even drew blood from our own by cutting them. All done to show how it is to not be in control of one's own existence, and yet persevere. Water boarding is not torture. It just sucks big time, and it works.

    December 19, 2007 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  7. Scott,Tupelo,MS

    Bill,Maybe you need a history lesson so you can understand why we are having the problems in the Middle East anyway. I guess your one of those idiots that think they hate us because of our freedom. If it wasn't for the actions of our government over the past 50 years we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

    December 19, 2007 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  8. aj huntington , ny.

    If it's us or them, I'd rather waterboard a terrorist than see one American soldier get hurt or killed.

    December 19, 2007 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  9. chaz, vancouver canada

    america, you have lost your moral compass. so sad.

    December 19, 2007 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  10. Nick, Eden Praire MN

    Of those who are willing to overlook the moral implications and say they agree, waterboarding should be allowed in "special" circumstances answer this:
    HOW DO WE EVEN KNOW INFORMATION GAINED THAT WAY IS ACCURATE ANYHOW! Yes, torture can get people to talk, but not that they'll tell the truth. Besides, are we really to this point? Torture is ok? Really? You people ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

    December 19, 2007 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  11. Lee, Mays Landing, New Jersey

    To Bill, Fort Riley, KS : (December 19, 2007 7:29 pm)

    I'm no pacifist and I would have no problem defending myself againt any fascist, whether it by the Islamic, nazi or American variety. The particular culture may be different, but the mindset of the fascist is similar. The criminal band hiding in the Pakistani mountains is not nearly as great of a threat to our freedoms as our home grown authoritarians, law breakers and those willing to make up the rules and law as they go along.

    December 19, 2007 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  12. Rick Cedar Hill

    Rudy Rudy Rudy not so fresh and oh so tooty.... You just have to be written out of the 2008 presidential election. A Stalag mentality like your buddy BUSH's can never be tolerated again in american society.

    December 19, 2007 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  13. Terry, El Paso, TX

    I have no compassion for those who would murder me if they could. I say, just kill them. If they have information that could save lives, then hurt them until they cough it up. Saddam Hussein did not deserve a trial; he should have been shot in the forehead without ceremony when he was captured. Or, the CEOs who know that their pharmaceutical company is selling medicine that causes heart attacks, just torture them until they confess. Murderers deserve to be murdered. Everybody has to die sooner or later anyway, so all we'd be doing is shaving a few years off of a worthless lifetime anyway.

    BUT, I have great compassion for the innocent who are falsely accused and falsely held. Even here in America, we have plenty of innocent people in jail, and they all had trials, lawyers, and rights. Legal processes were carefully observed, but we put innocent men (almost always men) in the slammer for life or we executed innocent men. Every week, I read of another man exculpated by DNA evidence, who were convicted by a judge and jury that was convinced of his guilt. I think about all those innocent men who will never be released because the real rapist or murderer did not leave any DNA. In a recent Texas case, the state's Attorney General had evidence in their files that proved the innocence of a man who had been in jail for a decade. When the evidence finally came to light, the prosecutor said it was not HIS job to help the defense.

    With no legal protectiona at all, we can be sure that we are holding and torturing innocent men, who had no trial, no lawyers (no laws even), no judge, no jury. We will torture them until they make up some story that we want to hear and we will say, "See, I knew he was guilty!"

    The system under which our war prisoners are being held was designed by Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld; men who are not smart and not good people.

    Years from now, it will all come out. We will hear the stories of the things that happened in those camps, we will see the photos and videos, and we will all declare, "Why, I never suspected that such terrible things were happening there. Who could have known? Besides, I voted for Gore and Kerry I'm pretty sure – or maybe I didn't vot that year. It's certainly not MY fault."

    December 19, 2007 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  14. Jason, Realityville, NY

    How stupid is this government. We already have a law that says waterboarding is torture. Just like we already have a law that inforces immigration, and coin making protection(Ron Paul story). Here's a crazy idea, lets inforce the laws we aready have and stop trying to rewrite the basis of our Justice System. Ohh yea I forgot our government don't need to follow the laws since we are a Monarchy. Right?

    December 19, 2007 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  15. Tom Dedham, Mass

    Real simple stuff here "geniuses", and since the MSM won't put the truth out there, I will:

    THREE people in total have been waterboarded, not the hundreds that the MSM makes it seem. FACT

    Two of those three gave up KSM, who if you sheep forget was the MASTERMIND behind 9-11 that killed our fellow INNOCENT CITIZENS. FACT

    Two of the three were not being cooperative UNTIL waterboarding was used and they gave up the GOOD information RIGHT AWAY. FACT

    Also as part of the information given were details that STOPPED MULTIPLE ATTACKS that were in the planning stages that would have been all around the world and and the US. FACT

    Nancy Pelosi and other high ranking DEMOCRATS were given a tour of Gitmo and were FULLY briefed on ALL methods that were being USED and NOBODY OBJECTED at all, in fact some questioned is it enough. FACT

    I would gather that all of you would do ANYTHING to protect your loved ones as I would, so why can't Bush? FACT

    Waterboarding simulates drowning, getting your head cut off by dirtbags SIMULATES nothing, it is REAL. FACT

    Found within the last year or so in Iraq were CURRENT manuals and torture rooms and how to torture our brave men and women soldiers and NOT part of the manual was waterboarding as they deem it NOT tough enough. FACT

    Put these truthful FACTS out there and I guarantee that the majority of people would be fine with it under some circumstances. FACT

    I know of NOBODY that does not agree with me and that includes ALL my Democratic leaning friends. FACT

    Having a 9/10/01 mentality is going to get us killed. FACT

    Merry Christmas.

    December 19, 2007 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  16. Steve, Hartford, CT

    If Osama were smart, he'd lay down his gun, shave his beard and go to the Caribbean. After all, he's already won.

    Terrorism only works if you're terrified. And the fact that so many Americans are ready to torture–TORTURE, by AMERICANS–is proof that indeed, we appear to be terrified.

    Remember WWII? We all came together to fight the dastardly Japanese, who attacked us when we were staying out of the war. Every man who could enlisted, every woman took a job in an arms factory. And we built, and fought, and died, to make sure that the world would never see such tactics as Japan and Germany were using. This BEFORE we found the death camps. Oh yes, we had the moral high ground then, by a mile.

    How far we have fallen.

    December 19, 2007 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  17. Dale Davis, Glendora, California


    December 19, 2007 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  18. BK, Williamsburg, VA

    "america, you have lost your moral compass. so sad"



    December 19, 2007 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  19. Larry, Columbus, Ohio

    Okay, a question for you. We KNOW that a nuclear device is set to go off in a large city, and millions will likely die. We have in custody an individual who knows the exact location of the device but won't talk. What do you do?

    Do you let millions die? I believe Guliani is correct. In very rare cases (which need to be documented), this procedure can and should be used. And before you start on with an idealist rant, assume your family members, spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, etc. are in the city that is the likely target. Are you willing to let millions die because you are not a realist?

    I'm an idealist but also a realist. Under controlled, very documented conditions, and subject to accountability for those involved, this technique can and should be used. A slippery slope can be managed with tight controls.

    December 19, 2007 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  20. Robb, New York

    I'm all for democracy and public discourse, but the use of torture should not be a subject of debate. Let me remind Giuliani and the rest of this country something... THIS IS AMERICA. WE DO NOT TORTURE. For 200+ years we've been fighting enemies who willingly tortured us so they can squash our freedom. We are above torture; we are the defenders of freedom. We fight so that all of us can live, breathe and act free. We must set the standard that everyone else in this world must follow.

    So we do not torture. We do not consider torture as an option. We do not even talk about it, or even think about it. We have fought and won wars without torturing the enemy, whomever that might be. We can win this war and other wars without torture, no matter who we're fighting or what the circumstances are.

    I can't believe this is even something we're talking about. I can't believe anyone who calls themselves American would be in favor to waterboarding or any other torturous act. I almost get the feeling they favor it only because it's the easy way to get things done. Basically, they want us to sell our souls so we can win. I want to win too, but I want to win as an American. Americans don't resort to the tactics of the very enemy of freedom that we're fighting– Americans win by demonstrating and defending the very freedom that has held this nation together for 200+ years.

    These so-called Americans who advocate the use of torture ought to be ashamed of themselves. Let me repeat– AMERICANS DO NOT ADVOCATE OR PRACTICE TORTURE. WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT.

    December 19, 2007 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  21. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama


    Former Mayor Giuliani once again demonstrates that he is in no way qualified to be President.

    In fact, if he believes that torture is an acceptable way for this nation to gather intelligence he is no longer qualified to be Mayor of new York.

    What an incredible idiot!

    December 19, 2007 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  22. Jake NY, NY

    I would expect the "Godfather" to say something like that. At least he's being honest.

    December 19, 2007 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  23. Don't vote for hate

    And the sell-out is now complete.

    December 19, 2007 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  24. Larry, charlotte, NC

    So if it was your son or daughter, brother or sister, husband or wife who could be saved by getting information from a terrorist by dunking their head under water a few times, you wouldn't support it? Put another way, you're right, it's better to let thousands of innocent people die painful deaths than dunk a terrorist' head under water. Youre all brainwashed!!!!!

    December 19, 2007 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  25. Mrs. America

    Excellent interview. Loved the way Wolf fired the questions at Giuliani. Old school news man in action. Giuliani held up pretty well. Spilled a couple names it sounded like he would have rather not said yet.

    Would love to see all of the viable candidates interviewed in like manner. I feel like finally somebody got some real answers from a candidate.

    December 19, 2007 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
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