Known entomophobe Andrew Sullivan, beclowning himself.

Yesterday, regarding the WaPo’s “Torture worked” story, Andrew Sullivan found it necessary to write:

They (the WaPo) have described John McCain’s experience in Vietnam as torture, and yet what he endured was nothing like as brutal as what was done to KSM (Khalid Sheik Mohammed).

That right there was a stupid thing to write. Worse than stupid: it was petty. But still stupid.

Now look: I don’t want to go getting into a “yuh-huh,” “nuh-uh” one-upmanship battle with Sullivan over whose experience was the more brutal. There’s no point: he’ll just yell “infinity!” and then “infinity times two!” Or so I surmise, having read some of his work. Still, I thought I’d have a look.

Acknowledging that this isn’t the whole story, here’s a snippet from the WaPo article:

Over a few weeks, he (Mohammed) was subjected to an escalating series of coercive methods, culminating in 7 1/2 days of sleep deprivation, while diapered and shackled, and 183 instances of waterboarding. After the month-long torment, he was never waterboarded again.

And here’s a few bits from McCain’s wikipedia page:

Although McCain was badly wounded, his captors refused to treat his injuries, beating and interrogating him to get information…

McCain spent six weeks in the hospital while receiving marginal care. By then having lost 50 pounds (23 kg), in a chest cast…

How much weight did Mohammed lose? Do we know?

McCain was sent to a different camp on the outskirts of Hanoi in December 1967, into a cell with two other Americans who did not expect him to live a week. In March 1968, McCain was put into solitary confinement, where he would remain for two years.

Two years.

In August 1968, a program of severe torture began on McCain. He was subjected to rope bindings and repeated beatings every two hours, at the same time as he was suffering from dysentery.

…Many American POWs were tortured and maltreated in order to extract “confessions” and propaganda statements, with many enduring even longer and worse treatment…

…Altogether, McCain was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five and a half years. He was released on March 14, 1973. His wartime injuries left McCain permanently incapable of raising his arms above his head.

Lots of footnotes over there, if you’d like to follow up. And here’s a link to McCain’s own telling of the story.

Po-tay-to, po-tah-to, maybe. Apples and oranges, maybe. Hey, a month here, five and a half years there. What’s the difference?

High five, KSM! I’d high-five McCain, but, you know, he’s got that thing with his crippled arms.

UPDATE – And one more thing: McCain and his fellow POWs were tortured for propaganda purposes. For public relations. Does Sullivan see a difference there?

(Lance Burri is The TrogloPundit)

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