2007: The Year Presidential Candidates Debated Torture

By JOANNE MARINER

Wednesday, Jan. 02, 2008

The US presidential campaign got underway in 2007, and the military detention facility at Guantanamo marked its fifth year. What to do about Guantanamo and, more broadly, how the US government should treat suspected terrorists, were questions that the presidential candidates were repeatedly called upon to address.

Below, test your knowledge of the candidates' position on Guantanamo, torture, and habeas corpus.

1. At a Republican presidential debate in May, the moderator asked former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani if he would support the use of waterboarding (simulated drowning) and other so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" on people who were believed to have information about a future terrorist attack. Giuliani responded:

a. "As President, and as commander-in-chief of our armed forces, it would be my responsibility to respect -- and to strengthen -- international rules prohibiting the abuse of detainees. Just as I would never want Iran or North Korea or any other potential enemy to use such methods on captured American soldiers, I would not want American interrogators to use such methods against persons in their custody."

b. "As a former prosecutor, I know from experience that lawful interrogation techniques work. And torture not only degrades the government that employs it, it produces inherently unreliable information."

c. "I would tell the people who had to do the interrogation to use every method they could think of."

d. "Let's not hide behind euphemisms: as President, I'd authorize the use of torture if I thought it would help us obtain necessary information."

2. The moderator of the debate then turned to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. As part of his answer, Romney defended Guantanamo, saying:

a. "My view is, we ought to keep Guantanamo open."

b. "My view is, we ought to double Guantanamo."

c. "My view is, we ought to triple Guantanamo."

d. "My view is, we ought to quadruple Guantanamo."

3. At a speech to civic and business leaders in New Hampshire a few weeks later, Romney expanded on his praise for Guantanamo. He said that, having visited Guantanamo, he found that:

a. "The sunshine and ocean breezes down there are fabulous."

b. "The recreational opportunities on offer down there are better than I had in high school."

c. "The food down there is unbelievable."

d. "The bird and animal life down there is simply incredible."

4. In December, the Armed Forces Journal published a statement addressed to Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General Michael Mukasey, criticizing their "tacit support of waterboarding." The statement said that:

a. Waterboarding is a torture technique rooted in the Spanish Inquisition.

b. In 1947, the United States prosecuted a Japanese military officer for waterboarding an American civilian during World War II.

c. Waterboarding is an inherently flawed method of gaining reliable information.

d. Waterboarding doesn't work.

5. Which Republican presidential candidates have spoken out against waterboarding?

a. Fred Thompson

b. Mike Huckabee

c. Mitt Romney

d. John McCain

6. Which presidential candidate has strongly advocated repealing the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (which, among other things, stripped the federal courts of jurisdiction over cases brought by detainees at Guantanamo)?

a. John McCain

b. Chris Dodd

c. Hillary Clinton

d. Mitt Romney

7. A number of presidential candidates have promised that, if elected, they would close Guantanamo. From the list below, name the candidates in favor of Guantanamo's closure:

Joe Biden

Hillary Clinton

Chris Dodd

John Edwards

Mike Gravel

Rudy Giuliani

Mike Huckabee

Dennis Kucinich

John McCain

Barack Obama

Ron Paul

Bill Richardson

Mitt Romney

Tom Tancredo

Fred Thompson

8. Texas congressman Ron Paul, a straight-talking libertarian, has criticized the phrase "enhanced interrogation technique." To him, it sounds like:

a. Liberal mumbo jumbo.

b. Duplicitous double-talk.

c. A euphemism.

d. Newspeak.

9. Which presidential candidate criticized the Bush administration reluctance to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the CIA's destruction of videotapes of detainee interrogations, saying: "The continuing saga of cover-up and delay by this administration must be stopped before more documents are lost to future investigators."

a. Dennis Kucinich

b. Joe Biden

c. John McCain

d. Ron Paul

10. Rudy Giuliani has said that ____ is the defining issue in the upcoming election:

a. Healthcare.

b. Guantanamo.

c. Terrorism.

d. How the candidates responded to 9/11.

11. Which presidential candidate told a Texas audience in June that: "we're going to close Guantanamo. And we're going to restore habeas corpus .… We're going to lead by example -- not just by word but by deed. That's our vision for the future."

a. Barack Obama

b. Dennis Kucinich

c. Hillary Clinton

d. Ron Paul

Answer key: 1:c; 2:b; 3:c; 4: all of the above; 5: b and d; 6:b; 7: the candidates in favor of closing Guantanamo are Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, Gravel, Kucinich, McCain, Obama, Paul, and Richardson; 8:d; 9:b; 10:c; 11: a.


Joanne Mariner is a human rights attorney. Her previous columns on Guantanamo, the detainee cases, and the "war on terrorism" are available in FindLaw's archive.

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