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. Mario Uy Streamwood IL

    I bet most of you would also consider it torture if you don’t’ get beers during a football game. Come on, admit it. You wuss. Americans are sooooo spoiled.

    December 19, 2007 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Somebody should waterboard this idiot and see how acceptable he finds it.

    Obama 08.

    December 19, 2007 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  3. j henderson kingsville texas

    maybe they ought to waterboard Giuliani till he tells us the truth about 9/11,..,yeah lets do it .,.,.,txtj

    December 20, 2007 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  4. Daniel, NY

    Giuliani isn't doing well at all. The latest national poll released today has him sinking by 13% in a month, and now in a tie with Romney and Huckabee. Link

    December 20, 2007 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  5. j henderson kingsville texas

    Mario ID
    yes you repubs like to kill kill kill.,that why bush started a war ,.but then he sent dems to be killed ,.not many repubs join the milatary or go to war,.repubs see the boys n girls dying over there as helping cull the population of the poor people .,open new jobs up and just another way to get rid of usa min wage people so the illegals they brought over here have enough jobs n wont go home,.,.yeah maccain a real great son of satans n bush too

    December 20, 2007 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  6. TC Plainfield IL

    How hard is it to understand that when we torture prisoners, our enemies can justify torturing American prisoners of war? When it comes to this subject, people like Rudy and Mitt should pay a little closer attention to what John McCain has to say.

    December 20, 2007 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  7. KingCranky, El Paso, Tx

    For the blabbering W brigade who think torture is just peachy keen

    Is it acceptable to rape, torture or kill children if trying to get information from their parents?

    And just what remedies apply to those wrongly tortured?

    Do those victims then get to inflict the same brutalities on those who ordered and carried out their torture?

    If not, why?

    December 20, 2007 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  8. Al, Sacto Ca.

    For all of the Guliani supporters, becareful what you wish for. This man could never run our nation at a global scale. Sad but true!!

    December 20, 2007 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  9. bdc, phila, pa

    if strapping me down and giving me a shower somehow saves hundreds of lives, sign me up.

    i hope everyone keeps in mind how comfortable the conspirators are when the next big attack happens and we're left with innocent dead. You simply can't ask a fanatic nicely to give in. stop being idealistic and get realistic.

    By the way, according to a cnn article maybe 2-3 weeks ago, your face is covered during this technique so no water goes in your mouth. so drop the "real drowning" nonsense.

    December 20, 2007 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  10. PW Va

    My, my, my... undercover sadist!!!!!

    December 20, 2007 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  11. Chris, Toledo, OH

    When answering the tough questions on the issues in future presidential debates, Rudy Guiliani should volunteer to be waterboarded to prove it is not torture. Don't feel like doing that, Rudy? Why not?
    The arguments over whether these "advanced interrogation techniques" are torture or not is ridiculous. The constitution protects against "cruel and unusual punishment." It's so simple that these discussions shouldn't even exist! And the constitution also protects people, not just citizens. What law school did you go to, Rudy? Remind me not to apply!
    We can't throw away our system of jurisprudence – trial by jury, innocent until proven guilty – in the name of security. When we do that, everything is lost.
    Kind of like your campaign.

    December 20, 2007 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  12. theaffirmationspot

    It is frightening that this man – and others like him – have any support at all.

    Here is an article that really puts this issue in some perspective.

    December 20, 2007 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  13. Tom, Myrtle Beach, SC

    There is nothing wrong with water boarding.It's time the weak wake up and get with the program. We are not the Enemy.

    December 20, 2007 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  14. Bob Miller, Little Rock, AR

    Giuliani's answer inspires in me just two words: RON PAUL. If anyone thinks GWB was bad, just wait till we get someone truly vicious like Rudy in office. Does anyone really think RUDY would bat an eye if he thought he needed to waterboard an American citizen? Should we trust bureaucrats to decide who gets tortured, who disappears, who doesn't get a trial?

    December 20, 2007 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  15. Peter, Sandy, Utah

    Waterboarding is simulated drowning. Not actual drowning, not partial drowning... To those who suggest otherwise, you are uninformed, or perhaps misinformed. A plastic barrier over the mouth prevents water from entering the mouth, thus preventing any "drowning" at all, but still making the person being waterboarded FEEL like they are drowning (invokes the gag reflex, I've read). That said, it doesn't sound like this procedure permanently damages the physical body and therefore doesn't rise to the level of torture. No matter how others define it, torture to me is causing permanent damage to someone's physical body (beatings, popping fingernails off with bamboo shoots, stabbings, etc.) Torture, by this definition, is unacceptable for anyone claiming to represent the United States of America.

    December 20, 2007 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  16. Alice Newman

    Pete in NYC commented "I agree with Guiliani and so do most people I know..."

    He must have a very small circle of friends ... those who approve of water boarding under any circumstances are in the minority ... like rational people voting for Rudy ...

    December 20, 2007 04:27 am at 4:27 am |
  17. Jean, Manchester NH

    People keep using the "ticking bomb" scenario as a justification for torture, often across the board. That is a false scenario, and here's why:

    Terrorist groups have no difficulty finding people willing to die in order to carry out attacks on their targets. They fly airplanes into buildings. They detonate explosives-laden vehicles that they are driving. They walk into crowded markets and blow themselves up. Let's say Al-Quaida in fact had in fact brought a nuclear device into NYC. Are they going to change their modus operandi and just leave it there for anyone to find and disarm? Or is the person who placed it (the only person besides some guy in a cave in Afghanistan who knows exactly where it is) going to shout "God is great!" and push the big red button himself? If the planners think he's going to lose his nerve, then they set it up so what he thinks is a timer is a detonator instead. But that bomb is going to go off before the guy who delivered it takes his next breath.

    Think about it. These people specialize in suicide bombers. Instant heaven and all that. It's how they operate. The 9/11 hijackers didn't parachute out of the planes at the last minute; why would the guy with the bomb be trying to get out of town? And even if he did, what does he have to lose by giving the interrogators the WRONG location so it blows up while they're on a wild goose chase? SOE agents in Europe during WW2 held out under Gestapo interrogation long enough for their contacts to go to ground, and most of them were just ordinary people. Your religious fanatic won't have any problems at all enduring waterboarding for an hour until that bomb goes off.

    Incidentally, there are several different versions of the story involving Abu Zubayda's interrogation and torture. One is the day after a single session of waterboarding, he gave massive amounts of accurate, critical, and immediately actionable intelligence information. The other is that after weeks of various types of ... extreme measures ... he talked, all right, but it was pure crap, stuff he made up to get it to stop, and did nothing but waste time and resources following up on worthless information.

    And, by the way, both versions come from people who were present at the interrogations.

    My abhorrence of torture has nothing to do with the neocon straw man that has been presented here, that I somehow am sympathetic to terrorists or want to give them hugs and kisses. Not at all. It has everything to do with me, and with my country. America is better than that. We have always been the ones to condemn the use of torture, not find ways to excuse it. We are people who speak out for freedom, not people who justify an action that has been throughout time the mark of the tyrant. It is not what it will do to anyone else that I fear the most, but what it will do to us.

    Safety at any price? Patrick Henry said "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

    Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of throwing away everything we once held to be true? Everything we once knew to be right? Everything we once upheld as a beacon of justice to the world? Everything that once set us above the tyrants and dictators?

    We applaud "the troops" for risking their lives in the country's service. Are we so cowardly that we will not accept any risk, even if the price of that temporary safety is the very ideals that those men and women we have sent to Iraq are told they are fighting and dying to protect? Have we outsourced our patriotism? Sacrificed "the troops" on the altar of convenience, while refusing to accept even the smallest modicum of risk ourselves in defense of our justice, liberty, and what was once the American way?

    Many years ago, I was turned down for military service (they need people with functional knees). I can't fight for my country. But what I can do, what all of us can do, is accept that we must endure some amount of risk as the price of our freedom. Because we cannot outsource patriotism. We cannot pay someone to face all the dangers of liberty for us. Are we still a nation of patriots? Or are we to become a nation of cowards, ready to sacrifice our principles, our traditions, our honor, and the lives of our young men and women, in a futile attempt to protect ourselves from all danger? Or are we a nation of patriots?

    I can only answer for myself, but I answer in Patrick Henry's immortal words: Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

    December 20, 2007 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
  18. Bob, Ft Lauderdale

    this was how the Patriot Act got made into American law. "We will omly use it in the most desparate circumstances on the worst terrorists." The next thing you know everybody is being spied on by the government. If these neocon nutjobs get their way on this, soon my son will be waterboarded at the police station so they can find out who is dealing pot at his school. "An eye for an eye" isn't a Christian philosphy and "turn the other cheek" isn't a liberal philosophy, you morons.

    December 20, 2007 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  19. Thomas, St. Petersburg, FL

    I completely agree with Mayor Guliani's views on waterboarding.

    "KSM", the 09/11/2001 mastermind, was most likely waterboarded upon being captured by U.S. authorities.

    Clearly this man had valuable information that could potentially endanger countless lives of Americans and our friends throughout the world.

    What should have been done to extract crucial information from this bloodthirsty terrorist?

    Place him in the Waldorf Astoria, appoint him an attorney (at taxpayer expense, of course) and grant KSM access to the very system that he desperately wants to destroy, thereby treating him tantamount to a traffic offender?

    Violence in Iraq and Afghanistan is down, thanks to President Bush and General Patraeus' military leadership.

    History will vividly record that the Democrats fought tooth and nail to PREVENT the war on terror and blame America for 09/11/2001.

    I, for one, will never forgive many Democrats for their misguided policies and views during this critical time in history.

    December 20, 2007 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  20. Maggie, Atlanta, GA

    Everyone writing on this topic is very keen to play the, "what if the information given through waterboarding could save your loved ones' lives." However, no one stops to think what if their loved one was wrongly suspected of dealing with terrorists and waterboarded. I didn't see the movie "Rendition," but the premise sounded horrible for the wife in that movie. And by the way, not all people deemed terrorists sympathetic to the extreme Islamists' cause are of Middle Eastern descent. A majority are, but there are whites and blacks as well. Your nephew, who decided to study abroad in Lebanon, could be the next one detained and possibly waterboarded. Then would it be a good idea?

    December 20, 2007 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  21. scott brown hermitage pa.

    I give a years pay to see Rudy waterboarded, along with all the other pro torture Republicans. watch my waterboard christmas video below.

    December 20, 2007 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  22. Lou,Miami Florida

    We should then test some waterboarding on you since is acceptable....
    how about it... let's see how long you last...
    once the enemy starts torturing our own will see how well this stupit Bush policy is comming to bite you in the rear end.
    You are a has been...

    December 20, 2007 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  23. Matthew, Boca Raton, FL

    If Ghouliani thinks waterboarding is not so bad, why doesn't he try it!!!

    In fact, I dare any reporter to ask these torturer supporters to volunteer to be waterboarded and then answer the question. American reporters have lost any sense of integrity and independence!

    Ghouliani is just another war mongering, CHICKENHAWK, like Bush.

    December 20, 2007 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  24. Allison, NH

    I think we should take Giuliani and his supporters out and waterboard them and see what people think! Even McCain, a prisoner of war, believes waterboarding is torture. Even CIA agents feel waterboarding should not be used – that it has had the opposite effect...lie to get out of going through it.

    People – WAKE UP! I'm sorry, but I am seriously afraid of Giulini...he is a liar, a cheater (to his wife and the american public), a waster of tax dollars (using taxpayers money to pay for is lovers security), he has ties to the mob, and tell me again what he has done for this country? Ask the NY Firemen what they think of his job on 9/11!!

    December 20, 2007 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  25. not an idiot, Richmond, VA

    Wonder what Giuliani would say if waterboarding were done on adulterers....

    December 20, 2007 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
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