Thursday, April 16, 2009

Waterboarding - Torture?




Clearly, there are different opinions on what constitutes "torture" and what constitutes "coercive interrogation".  There are different methods of accomplishing interrogation through the use of a waterboard. I'll cover some of the most widely used. Essentially it's the old "Chinese Water Method".  Today a person could be restrained either be in a seated position with his head inclined backward or prone, inclined down on a board or platform, face-up.

In Mexico the common method, still in wide use involves stuffing a rag of questionable hygiene into the subjects mouth and then pouring Tehuacan (soda water) into the subject's nose. To breathe, the subject inhales the soda water and it has a very painful impact on the sinuses as the subject feels like they're drowning. It leaves no marks, scars or damage on the subject but they are inclined to cooperate with law enforcement.

The waterboard method requires that the subject's face is covered with a cloth and water is poured on the cloth. The subjects inhales some of this water and they feel as if they're drowning. It's an unpleasant experience and people again feel more disposed to cooperate.

The military exposes a certain class of personnel to waterboarding by putting them through the process in Search Evasion Resistance Education for the purpose of teaching them to resist this method of coercive interrogation. It's not a high school prom by any means, but is it torture? If the military puts special forces and aviators through this experience, as a part of training, is it really torture?

Today the US Department of Justice announced that CIA personnel who engaged in coercive interrogation techniques against terrorists planning attacks on the United States would not be prosecuted for following government guidelines in their administration of those coercive techniques. 

I do NOT believe that these procedures are torture. They were never used by law enforcement to further a criminal case, and they would be considered "cruel and unusual punishment" in the case of imprisonment of domestic prisoners. Torture to me includes standard procedures in Egypt such as ripping out fingernails, bashing out teeth, vivisection, blinding, electrocution, etc. Waterboards leave no lasting damage. They're just darned unpleasant.


Opus #6 said...

Interesting. I always pictured waterboarding as something more like what Pierce Brosnan went through in the James Bond movie in the North Korean prison. Educational post. Shows how popular media controls our perceptions.

LL said...

I'm not saying that it's pleasant, because it is NOT. However, since I had that training myself, I will suggest that it's not life altering. The media has to make it look diabolical in order to sell it.

Back to man bites dog being what sells papers.

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