I waterboard!

So much talk of waterboarding, so much controversy. But what is it really? How bad? I wanted to write the definitive thread on waterboarding, settle the issue. Torture, or not?

To determine the answer, I knew I had to try it. I looked at my two small children. Surely, in the interests of science?..

But alas, my wife had objections.

Perhaps her?

Sadly, she is proficient in Ju Jitsu, and I am unlikely to waterboard her.

That leaves me.

Seriously, I determined to give this a try, see how bad it was: Settle the debate authoritatively. Torture, or not?

I figure I would be a good test subject. I am incredibly fit and training for a 100 mile endurance run. The main thing about such an event is ability to tolerate pain. I am good at this. I am trained.

I also have experience with free-diving from my college days. I once held my breath for 4 minutes and two seconds. Once, while training as a lifeguard I swam laps without breathing until I passed out, so that I could know my limits.

To determine whether waterboarding is an acceptable interrogation technique or torture I must research it an then undergo it myself. Once I have done this, Elucidator Diogenes Tomndeb and all the rest of those liberal scum (no offense intended) must accept my now accept my now expert opinion.

So, here’s what I would do. First I would google waterboarding to understand the basic concepts than I would try it on myself. First, self inflicted and then, if necessary, inflicted by my wife.(she has no problem torturing me. We’ve been married almost 15 years.)

These are the results of my research and experience:

The goal of waterboarding is to simulate drowning without the actual drowning or inhalation into the lungs. In order to accomplish this the subject is forced to lie on an inclined plane with his head lower than his lungs and then water is dumped onto his/her face (always keeping the lungs above the “Water line.”) This simulates drowning and causes a panic.

There are some advanced techniques that make this more extreme, but that’s the basic concept.

Easy enough to duplicate. I have an inclined weight bench and a watering can. No problem. I lie on this and tilt the watercan to pour water on my mouth and nose. Water goes up my nose causing me to gag and choke and splutter, but after a try or two I’m able to suppress my reflex, relax breathe in shallowly and then expel rapidly (shooting out the water) and maintain my composure. This is not too bad. with my diving experience, you would never break me this way. I can’t beleive those AL Zarqawi guys were such pussies.

Back to researching the advanced techniques:

The first of these is wet rag in mouth. I try it. Ok, I can handle this too. It makes it a little bit more difficult to maintain control. I didn’t realize it, but the first time around I was selectively breathing through either mouth or nose, to help maintain control. The wet rag eliminates the mouth as an option. You have to really concentrate to maintain control, breathing very shallowly on the inhale and not allowing yourself to exhale until you have a good lungfull with which to expel the water in you nose throat and sinuses. Then, you have to inhale slowly but fast enough to pull in a lungful of air before your nose throat and sinuses fill up. Difficult, but doable with some self-control. I can see where this would get very unpleasant if you lost control, but still, not terrible, not torture, per se in my book. It wasn’t as bad as my vasectomy or last root canal, and not nearly so bad as the last OP I read by Liberal.
Next up is saran wrap. The idea is that you wrap saran wrap around the mouth in several layers, and poke a hole in the mouth area, and then waterboard away. I didn’t reall see how this was an improvement on the rag technique, and so far I would categorize waterboarding as simply unpleasant rather than torture, but I’ve come this far so I might as well go on.

Now, those of you who know me will know that I am both enamored of my own toughness and prone to hyperbole. The former, I feel that I am justifiably proud of. The latter may be a truth in many cases, but this is the simple fact:

It took me ten minutes to recover my senses once I tried this. I was shuddering in a corner, convinced I narrowly escaped killing myself.

Here’s what happened:

The water fills the hole in the saran wrap so that there is either water or vaccum in your mouth. The water pours into your sinuses and throat. You struggle to expel water periodically by building enough pressure in your lungs. With the saran wrap though each time I expelled water, I was able to draw in less air. Finally the lungs can no longer expel water and you begin to draw it up into your respiratory tract.

It seems that there is a point that is hardwired in us. When we draw water into our respiratory tract to this point we are no longer in control. All hell breaks loose. Instinct tells us we are dying.

I have never been more panicked in my whole life. Once your lungs are empty and collapsed and they start to draw fluid it is simply all over. You know you are dead and it’s too late. Involuntary and total panic.

There is absolutely nothing you can do about it. It would be like telling you not to blink while I stuck a hot needle in your eye.

At the time my lungs emptied and I began to draw water, I would have sold my children to escape. There was no choice, or chance, and willpower was not involved.

I never felt anything like it, and this was self-inflicted with a watering can, where I was in total control and never in any danger.

And I understood.

Waterboarding gets you to the point where you draw water up your respiratory tract triggering the drowning reflex. Once that happens, it’s all over. No question.

Some may go easy without a rag, some may need a rag, some may need saran wrap.

Once you are there it’s all over.

I didn’t allow anybody else to try it on me. Inconceivable. I know I only got the barest taste of what it’s about since I was in control, and not restrained and controlling the flow of water.

But there’s no chance. No chance at all.

So, is it torture?

I’ll put it this way. If I had the choice of being waterboarded by a third party or having my fingers smashed one at a time by a sledgehammer, I’d take the fingers, no question.

It’s horrible, terrible, inhuman torture. I can hardly imagine worse. I’d prefer permanent damage and disability to experiencing it again. I’d give up anything, say anything, do anything.

The Spanish Inquisition knew this. It was one of their favorite methods.

It’s torture. No question. Terrible terrible torture. To experience it and understand it and then do it to another human being is to leave the realm of sanity and humanity forever. No question in my mind.
Questions? Doubts?
P.S. Yes, I really did try it.

P.S.S. I understand that I took a shot or two at some other posters, but my hope is that this will be construed as humorous rather than genuinely insulting, and thus acceptable. If any offended parties take genuine issue, my sincere apologies, but I chose targets that I thought would appreciate rather than be offended.

Question: what actually was your opinion of this technique before you tried it?

Got video?

Now see, you were in a controlled enviroment and found it to be torture. Now imagine you have some scumbag CIA or military officer doing this to you not knowing what else they’re capable of. That’s like 20x the fear, IMO, of what you went through!

I really didn’t know, which is why I wanted to try it.

Very rarely do mere words on a message board startle me. I’ve seen many descriptions of waterboarding, but that one made me sit up straight. Wow.

I don’t think it would really matter whether the scumbag in question was CIA, Al Quaeda, my wife or you. After experiencing it, I’m not sure it would necessarily be worse if somebody else was doing it, it would just be more protracted.

Frankly, it felt infinitely terrible. The reaction was totally involuntary and totally automatic even though it was self- inflicted. It would be worse if somebody else was doing it because they might not realize when you reach that magic point and keep doing it, but really I found that magic point to be as bad as it can possibly get whether I did it or somebody else.

More time at that point would be worse. But, I imagine the loss of control and all the other factors to be inconsequential compared to the sudden imminent death feeling.

It’s not simulating drowning, it is drowning. It felt like dying. I can’t put it any other way.

There have been cases of soldiers going through waterboarding in training and having psychological damage from it. Both you and the soldiers had an advantage. You did not have it done by an enemy that hates you and may screw up and kill you.

Yea, that was a pretty intense OP. And in addition to what ParentalAdvisory said about you being far more in control of the situation then the average Gitmo resident, I imagine most inhabitants of Afganistan don’t have a lot of experience with recreational swimming, and so would be that much less able to cope with the sensation of being drowned.

Also am going to have second thoughts next time we debate whether “X interrogation technique” counts as torture for fear that we’ll unintentionally cause Scylla to kill himself during a similar experiment.

I get it, dying is dying is dying . But you weren’t in any kind of confinement with people who could care less about you. IMO, you would have a different experience with having terrorists do it to you, and another with your wife doing it to you. No doubt however, you’ve had some extreme feelings after having done it yourself now giving you a new perspective, but I still feel it would be a heck of a lot worse if you were detained and it performed by nut jobs.

I have been told by my “friends” that the saran wrap technique breaks everyone, thanks for describing it so well. I believe you did try this, what’s next? Bamboo under the fingernails? And another request for video.

That was a really powerful OP. And coming from someone I trust, it carries a lot more conviction than any of the debates on the subject I have heard on the radio or TV.

You say that, and it may be true. I’m trying to be honest about this, and I think you’re wrong.

In most normal situations where pain is involved, it feels to me like control is important. Things that would otherwise be horrifying and intolerable were livable when I felt like I was in control. For three examples, I had third degrees burns on my hands when I was a kid, bad ones. Once the damage was done it, hurt terribly. It was horrifyingly bad, the worst physical pain I ever felt, and it went on and on.

But I was still me. I could feel myself through the pain. I knew that the doctors who were washing or scraping my hands to eliminate infection or scarring were trying to help me not hurt me, and I could keep myself still and I was in control.

Similarly, I was in control during my vasectomy which was pretty damn painful and uncomfortable.

I was in control during a root control.

With the waterboarding, at the moment I hit the magic spot where I was drawing water in, I was no longer me, I was no longer in control. It felt out of control and dying.

I honestly feel that it doesn’t matter who’s doing it, that the matter of control was inconsequential, totally involuntary and besides the point.

In short, this was on a totally different level than anything I had ever felt before. It felt like an automatic hardwired panic.

The loss of control may prime you beforehand. The fear may get to you, and it may last longer if somebody else is doing it to you. In the lasting longer, it may be worse in quantity, but you really can’t get worse than infinite and total surrender and panic, and that’s what it felt like.

Does that make sense?

It’s not so much the pain. The pain itself is simply discomfort. There is a total instinctual panic that I felt that was not only uncontrollable, but seemed to me that the very idea of seeking to control it is itself inconceivable.

Pure hardwired instinct.

I see where you’re coming from. I guess our disconnect is the AFTER feelings. You likely aren’t going to be PTSD on us. Where as someone in Gitmo having the same thing done to them will carry that weight on with them for the rest of their lives, assuming they survive it.

Ok. You’re allowed. It seems logical. I would normally agree with you. For example, I volentarily got vasectomized. It hurt. It was bad and scary. It would have been horribly worse if it was involuntary and in a torture situation.

This was different though.

I’ll try to explain it. Even though the situation I described of the vasectomy would be horribly worse if it were involuntary, without anesthesia, and done malevolently, all the things that would make it worse would be things that would prey upon a lucid mind. It is conceivably possible that if you are tough enough, you could tough it out.

Waterboarding feels like it completely bypasses lucidity, or anything that’s in your control. The psychological aspects would be terrifying going into it, no doubt. I just feel that the actual sensation is on a whole different order.

Man thanks for your support, someone tough like you had to actually do it, take it to the courts. I can’t believe you actually did that, it’s the most shocking thread I’ve ever read here.

I’m just outraged by the answers from polititians, have you seen the most recent GOP debates and Mitt Romney’s response? He’s trying to please both sides. I can’t believe anyone even thinks waterboarding is not torture.

Last I checked torture isn’t supposed to be fun.

You’re just not doing it right. :stuck_out_tongue:

Scylla, I have to admire you, all the while thinking that you’re nucking futs.

Martin Hyde, well, duh. The whole point is, that our government is engaging in torture. Which goes against everything that America is supposed to stand for.

EVERYONE who claims to love America should be horrified by this-instead of saying, “but they’re terrorists!” or, “You must hate America!”


Let’s put it this way-if Al Queda were doing this to OUR soldiers, we’d sure as hell call it torture.

Well, then we have no disconnect. Ten minutes after, I was fine. There was just no chance I was gonna let it happen again. If somebody was doing it over and over again, One might go permanently mad. No question in my mind.

All I was trying to say is that once you have totally and complete panic and surrender, you can’t surrender or panic to any greater degree.

I sure hope it’s true, and objectively I beleive it’s true. But, I don’t think the sensation could be worse, it could just damage you more by lasting. I found it true in my ultramarathoning that when things hurt as bad as they possibly can, they just don’t get worse.

To quantify it, look at it this way. Let’s say the maximum human distress a person can voluntarily withstand is 10.

Waterboarding was a 1,000.
It’s not pain. It’s in a totally different league. It’s something different. It’s like somebody pulling your plug.