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January 07, 2005


I think that it is more likely that detainee is pushed under water. Wet towel over the face and dripping water does not sound like enough to produce feeling of drowning. I tried it in a bathtub. While it is not comfortable it did not make me feel I will drown. Having my head submerged under water, however, would produce that feeling.

Re: Waterboarding and the utility of reading and recording history.

"El Submarino" is an old and well-known tactic used in central and south American countries in the 1980s and 90s. See, e.g., Human Rights Watch: “TORTURE AND POLITICAL PERSECUTION IN PERU,” a short report, December 1997, Vol. 9, No. 4 (B), Section II. THE PREVALENCE OF TORTURE:

"According to data compiled . . . 78.2 percent of . . . male prisoners -- almost four out of every five -- reported that they were subjected to torture or ill-treatment after their detention . . . More than a quarter of the tortured men said they had been beaten, and an additional 16.3 percent said they had been tortured more than once. The second-most-common type of torture after beatings was water torture, known as the submarino, which consists of repeated immersion of the head in water sometimes laced with chemicals such as household detergent. . . ." --Statistics compiled for Human Rights Watch/Americas by the Institute for Legal Defense in Peru, based on questionnaires applied to 1,068 male and 170 female prisoners whose cases the organization has taken up between 1990 and April 1997.

In this case, the word used seems helpful in shedding light on this matter. I just wonder if the CIA actually has special boards and tanks that are custom built for this task. As well, operation or user manuals regarding of how long someone can be submerged and such would make for an interesting read.

Here is the entry in the Wikipedia.com site. It goes way beyond water dripping on a towel.

Current uses of waterboarding
The current practice of waterboarding was known previously as "the water cure." It involves tying the victim to a board with the head lower than the feet so that he or she is unable to move. A piece of cloth is held tightly over the face, and water is poured onto the cloth. Breathing is extremely difficult and the victim will be in fear of imminent death by asphyxiation. However, it is relatively difficult to aspirate a large amount of water since the lungs are higher than the mouth, and the victim is unlikely actually to die if this is done by skilled practitioners. Waterboarding may be used by captors who wish to impose anguish without leaving marks on their victims as evidence.

This is a technique demonstrated on U.S. military personnel by other U.S. military personnel when they are being taught to resist enemy interrogations in the event of capture (see SERE).

On the 18 November 2005, Brian Ross and Richard Esposito described the CIA's "waterboarding" technique as follows in an article posted on the ABC News web site: "The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt. According to the sources, CIA officers who subjected themselves to the water boarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in. They said al Qaeda's toughest prisoner, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, won the admiration of interrogators when he was able to last between two and two-and-a-half minutes before begging to confess. 'The person believes they[sic] are being killed, and as such, it really amounts to a mock execution, which is illegal under international law,' said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch." [1]

Dr. Allen Keller, the director of the Bellevue/N.Y.U. Program for Survivors of Torture, has treated "a number of people" who had been subjected to forms of near-asphyxiation, including "water-boarding," in which a suspect is bound and immersed in water until he nearly drowns. An interview for the New Yorker states:

He argued that it was indeed torture. Some victims were still traumatized years later, he said. One patient couldn't take showers, and panicked when it rained. "The fear of being killed is a terrifying experience," he said. [2]

Having just read the Wikipedia entry on 'Waterboarding' I think it highly unlikely that this form of 'interrogation' is as lenient as some of the American press would have us believe. The fact that CIA agents lasted an average of 14 seconds under this technique says it all. Can you name another torture that yields results so fast?
I can imagine the experience as being singularly terrifying, and even though the physical effects (providing you don't die accidentally) are impermanent, I'm sure the psychological effects are devastating.
It makes my normally rational blood boil, to think that the supposed greatest free society of the age would stoop to using such techniques on fellow men.

Seems like nobody really knows what waterboarding actually is...just a bunch of speculation and wild imagination.

Waterboarding seems a bit scary but I doubt anyone has died from it....everyone has had an experience of having a soda pop and while drinking it comes out your nose accidentally...14 seconds of that would be pure torture.

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