The UN Convention Against Torture, to which the US is a signatory, defines torture as:
Originally Posted by patriot45
Does waterboarding impose "severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental?"
Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
– Convention Against Torture, Article 1.1
Obviously, the sensation of drowning is certainly mental suffering, but is it worse mental suffering than being forced to sit through a Barbra Streisand film festival? (One word: Yentl. :eek:) That may seem frivolous, but many of the things that people consider torture are actually considered stimulating by others. Now, if liberals can (and do, with a straight face) make the claim that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter," then certainly we can make a similar claim, that one man's torture is another man's pleasure. For example, while the thought of several hours of Barbra Streisand's signature nasal whine fills me with existential dread, it's obvious that there are those who, perhaps due to improper potty training or some other childhood trauma, are willing to pay for the experience. What, then, constitutes torture in view of the infinitely variable tastes, orientations and perversion of which the human animal is capable? If being whipped or otherwise beaten and humiliated by someone in a tight leather outfit is torture, then anyone who's ever been in a Madonna video has grounds for humanitarian intervention (even if they paid for the privilege). If someone has a waterboarding fetish, is it no longer torture? Or is it only torture if it's continued past the safe word? Was being made to participate in a naked human pyramid in front of Lyndie England torture, or was not being permitted to participate?
Try that argument on a liberal sometime and see what happens. :D