The Washington Post

Cato’s Rittgers: Time to ‘get over’ waterboarding

In an op-ed in today’s LA Times, Cato legal policy analyst David Rittgers says we’ll never know the real effects of waterboarding, so it’s time to “get over it.”

There is no way to prove or disprove the real worth of America’s experiment with waterboarding and coercive techniques. More important, enhanced interrogation isn’t coming back.

But that hasn’t stopped former Vice President Dick Cheney from insisting that the Obama administration should reinstate waterboarding and other coercive interrogation techniques.

It’s a routine critique by Cheney that Rittgers is aware of, but suggests that Cheney is “mostly feuding with decisions made by his old boss, not the current commander in chief.” It is not clear how Rittgers knows this about Cheney, who made no mention of Bush in his most recent iteration of this view on the May 8, 2011 edition of “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace.

It may well be the case that Cheney has unfinished business with Bush over dropping the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, but it is at least a selective reading for Rittgers to suggest that Cheney’s words are not directed at Obama with the hope that they carry political consequences for the administration. It is unlikely that even Cheney himself would make such a suggestion.

Allen McDuffee writes about politics and policy and covered think tanks for The Washington Post from 2011 to 2013. He freelances and hosts a podcast at and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.
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