Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I've seen quite a few people, including Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, call waterboarding "simulated drowning". You know, it just seems like you're drowning, and really unpleasant, but you aren't actually drowning. And it doesn't leave a mark, so it's not torture.

Well, like pretty much everything else mouthpieces of the US Government tell you (I'm not lumping Stewart into this category), this isn't quite true. It's actually quite the opposite. As Malcolm Nance, former instructor at the Navy's Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School a guy who has been waterboarded and overseen it done to Navy Seals type guys writes over at the Small Wars Journal,
1. Waterboarding is a torture technique. Period. There is no way to gloss over it or sugarcoat it. It has no justification outside of its limited role as a training demonstrator. Our service members have to learn that the will to survive requires them accept and understand that they may be subjected to torture, but that America is better than its enemies and it is one’s duty to trust in your nation and God, endure the hardships and return home with honor.

2. Waterboarding is not a simulation. Unless you have been strapped down to the board, have endured the agonizing feeling of the water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs, you will not know the meaning of the word.

Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that, in the American model, occurs under the watch of a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a trained strap-in/strap-out team. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning. How much the victim is to drown depends on the desired result (in the form of answers to questions shouted into the victim’s face) and the obstinacy of the subject. A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience, to horrific suffocating punishment to the final death spiral.

Waterboarding is slow motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of black out and expiration –usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death. Its lack of physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threaten with its use again and again.

Call it “Chinese Water Torture,” “the Barrel,” or “the Waterfall,” it is all the same. Whether the victim is allowed to comply or not is usually left up to the interrogator. Many waterboard team members, even in training, enjoy the sadistic power of making the victim suffer and often ask questions as an after thought. These people are dangerous and predictable and when left unshackled, unsupervised or undetected they bring us the murderous abuses seen at Abu Ghraieb, Baghram and Guantanamo. No doubt, to avoid human factors like fear and guilt someone has created a one-button version that probably looks like an MRI machine with high intensity waterjets.
If that's not clear enough for the "waterboarding is only simulated drowning" people, I don't know what could be.

It's a monstrous torture technique, and anyone caught doing it for reasons other than preparing soldiers for the possibility they'll be subjected to it at their enemies hands richly deserves to find his or her neck on the end of a rope.

The "best" part about this, is that all those people in Guantanamo Bay who are being held without trials or charges for years, and tortured continuously are mostly innocent. Seton Hall lawyers investigated and found there wasn't really a reason to hold 80% of them. Things like sarcastically saying, "Yeah you got me; I'm a terrorst." are being used as "confessions."

The Guantanamo detainees/torture victims are the "worst of the worst" yet there's not much evidence they ever did anything wrong. And most Americans are stupid enough to believe this horseshit.

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