Friday, May 22, 2009

Is Waterboarding Torture?

The question is being asked, is waterboarding torture? Or someless less? Christopher Hitchens, hawkish advocate for and defender of the Iraq invasion, underwent waterboarding last fall and came out of it with this:

You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is
that it “simulates” the feeling of drowning. This is not the case. You feel that
you are drowning because you are drowning—or, rather, being drowned, albeit
slowly and under controlled conditions and at the mercy (or otherwise) of those
who are applying the pressure. The “board” is the instrument, not the method.
You are not being boarded. You are being watered. This was very rapidly brought
home to me when, on top of the hood, which still admitted a few flashes of
random and worrying strobe light to my vision, three layers of enveloping towel
were added. In this pregnant darkness, head downward, I waited for a while until
I abruptly felt a slow cascade of water going up my nose. Determined to resist
if only for the honor of my navy ancestors who had so often been in peril on the
sea, I held my breath for a while and then had to exhale and—as you might
expect—inhale in turn. The inhalation brought the damp cloths tight against my
nostrils, as if a huge, wet paw had been suddenly and annihilatingly clamped
over my face. Unable to determine whether I was breathing in or out, and flooded
more with sheer panic than with mere water, I triggered the pre-arranged signal
and felt the unbelievable relief of being pulled upright and having the soaking
and stifling layers pulled off me. I find I don’t want to tell you how little
time I lasted.

And then, he adds,

I apply the Abraham Lincoln test for moral casuistry: “If slavery is not
wrong, nothing is wrong.” Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute
torture, then there is no such thing as torture.

1 comment:

  1. His description is horrifying. What a sad day in the history of America when we have idiots trying to defend a practice we would disdain if done on our soldiers. Surely, every American soldier fighting anywhere in this world is in more danger than ever since we so nonchalantly broke decades of agreement since Geneva. Someone simply needs to pay....