07 July 2008


Iraq war hawk Christopher Hitchens describes in Vanity Fair having himself voluntarily waterboarded.

Believe Me, It's Torture

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.
As if detecting my misery and shame, one of my interrogators comfortingly said, “Any time is a long time when you’re breathing water.” I could have hugged him for saying so, and just then I was hit with a ghastly sense of the sadomasochistic dimension that underlies the relationship between the torturer and the tortured. 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.
I think this is an opportune moment to gank an entire post from Matthew Yglasias.
I've seen lots of commentary on the revelation that Bush administration torture techniques have been modeled on the work of the ChiComs but not much specific focus on the fact that the main purpose of these Chinese torture techniques was to elicit false confessions. That's not very surprising as the main use of torture in interrogations has always been to elicit false confessions.

But still, to literally rip your techniques off from a study called “Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions from Air Force Prisoners of War” requires some level of obliviousness I wasn't aware of. Or else maybe they were looking for false confessions?

Words fail.

1 comment:

Douglas said...

Hey, I suffer from sleep apnea, which causes a sense of suffocation just as I wake up; and the mere thought of that with water applied, under the pressure of other tortures next, is enough to make me think impeachment is completely the inappropriate response for what George Bush and Dick Cheney should have to try, voluntarily, just once, before they leave office. Go Christopher Hitchens: The New George Plimpton