Waterboarding, How to Do It.

Over here a blog has posted some photos of a Khemer Rouge ‘waterboard.’ I really don’t want to get off on a debate here, I found the discussion of how it is down interesting.

You place the high-value detainee on a slanted wooden surface, face up with his head immobilized and lower than his feet. Then you wrap his head in some sort of waterproof hood. Plastic food wrap will do. Then you pour water onto his head.

The plastic holds the water in place and creates a feeling of drowning, triggering the gag response.

The photos show the sort of device used by the Khemer Rouge. I suppose our CIA uses the same sort of gear.

In any case, I recall that when Tasers were first introduced, policemen were zapped with the things as part of their training. I wonder if any of our lawmakers will undergo an educational waterboarding to judge if it is or if it ain’t torture.

I am serious here, there is an easy way for Senator X to know which way to vote, he can go down to Langely and get waterboarded. Then he can make up his mind. In fact, I cannot imagine any other way of making up one’s mind.

I’ve looked this up, and it’s still not clear to me exactly how it works. The waterboardee can or cannot breath? No water at all is entering the mouth? I’m going to have to try this to see how it works. By all accounts it’s extremely unpleasant, but by the description I can’t really imagine how it it feels.

To answer your OP, I think it would be quite educational for the folks voting on this to give it a try on themselves. If they’re at all like me, they have trouble imagining how bad it actually is. It’s supposed to completely safe (physically).

Really, it seems to me some sort of mobile waterboard could make the rounds of county fairs, give people a prize if they (something). It seems like the only practical way to decide about this issue.

Ruken I just came in to ask the same question. I’m by no means trying to defend the practice; I just have a really hard time wrapping my head around what this is supposed to feel like.

Has anyone been waterboarded or seen it done? Supposedly it breaks people extremely quickly–but I just don’t see how. I mean, I’ve been a swimmer all my life and I can hold my breath underwater for over a minute and a half–would I fare any better? If all breathing is impeded, how is it harmless? And if breathing is impeded, how is this less objectionable or more useful than outright suffocation?

I’ve heard it claimed, although I haven’t been able to verify it, that this is part of the training received for all our Special Ops guys. If you saw the Movie GI Jane, you could see Demi Moore waterboarded!

Waterboarding sounds a little bit like Cleveland Steamers, except with a different, um, medium.

Anyway, the thing that gets me about this stuff is that I’ve read and heard for years how torture isn’t really effective, but now this administration seems to be really, really big on it. Setting aside that inhumanity thing for a moment, doesn’t this reliance on torture seem, well, kind of incompetent?

For a detailed description of Khmer Rouge torture techniques, I strong suggest reading Haing Ngor’s excellent books on his life in Cambodia at that time.

You gotta admit it takes a lot of spinning to put the good side onto using a technique used by the Khemer Rouge.

Yeah. But what’s worse than that is that the so-called good side is also using guns. The Khmer Rouge used guns, and now we’re supposed to just sit back and accept our side using them too? Jeez.

I blame Bush.

Hey, let’s not forget the real culprit here. Which is, of course, Gay Marriage.

You say you can hold your breath for a minute and a half, which I assume is when the strong urge to come up for air sets in. Imagine if instead you were held under for 2 minutes, or 2 minutes 15 seconds. Then brought back up again, and as you are gasping for breath they ask you to “cooperate”. If you don’t, the process is repeated over and over again.

The local Republican/right morning radio talk show guy claimed that all our interrogators undergo waterboarding as part of their training, and that there was some report that stated that the 14 top al Qaeda prisoners all gave up valuable info upon being waterboarded. Most gave it up within 30 seconds, while the toughest among them lasted two and a half minutes.

This is in contrast to others who say you don’t get anything valuable by torture.

I can imagine that you’d get some truth and some lies, depending on the individual. But then, how do you tell the difference until you chase down everything you are told?

Regarding whether waterboarding is torture, I suppose one must experience it, because as others have posted, the description doesn’t sound that bad. Almost every town in Europe seems to have a torture museum containing many items from the Middle Ages. These were skull impalers, racks, and testicle crushers. By comparison, waterboarding sounds tame.

So, at least to me, the important questions are:

Is waterboarding truly torture?

If it is, American policy should be against it.

If not, then does it yield anything useful?

How I’m picturing it working is this: put a bunch of Saran Wrap over your face, lay down, and have someone point a hose at you. Water would start to pool in the depressions of the Saran Wrap that is on your opened mouth and nose, as well as pressing on your eyes. You can still breathe because air gets into your mouth at the corners of it (or maybe there is a breathing tube), and you don’t get wet, but psychologically it would feel as if you were being constantly drowned for hours. Your mouth and nostrils might fill with a pocket of water encased in Saran Wrap. You have the instinctive sense to “come up for air” even if you are being supplied with it through a tube. It’s kind of analagous to putting someone “in the hole”–they’re not experiencing any physical danger, they aren’t running out of air, but it is something that would be torturous for most.

The American government: learning from the best!

I’ve done skateboarding, snowboarding, and wakeboarding - so I think I’ll give it a try.

ABC News

I bet they’ll get right on it after they finish signing their kids up for duty in the military. :rolleyes:

I have to wonder, these days, what “valuable information” means.

Is that what’s being done though? I know that “dunking” has been a form of torture, but it’s not clear to me if the person being waterboarded can breath or not.

I think one of the keys to making it work is that the water needs to be very cold.

Similar to walking outside in sub-zero temperatures and getting hit in the face with a cold blast of air makes you instantly hold your breath and then gasp for air.

I experienced the same thing scuba diving at the bottom of a very cold lake. I had a neoprene suit, hood, and gloves on as well as a mask and regualtor so I felt comfortable temperature wise. I then removed my mask with the regulator still in my mouth. The blast of cold to my face made me instantly hold my breath. Then I couldn’t convince myself to breath through my mouth. I eventually couldn’t hold my breath any longer and started choking-gaging-gasping for air even though the regualtor was there the whole time. I finally calmed down and started to breathe normally again but the whole experience was pretty frightening / panic inducing.

Does it matter? It creates the sensation that the person is drowning. On a physiological level, the person believes that he’s about to die, and will do anything his tormentors demand to stop it.

How is that not torture? Is the sensation of eminent death really more allowable than pure pain?

[jebert]Regarding whether waterboarding is torture, I suppose one must experience it, because as others have posted, the description doesn’t sound that bad. Almost every town in Europe seems to have a torture museum containing many items from the Middle Ages. These were skull impalers, racks, and testicle crushers. By comparison, waterboarding sounds tame. [/jebert]
Most of those devices are either frauds, used only rarely, or were used as a punishment rather than as an interrogation/coercion technique.

By far the most popular method of torture in the middle ages (besides a good old fashioned beating, I’m sure) was having your arms bound behind your back, and being suspended from them. They’d raise you, and then drop you, with the rope catching before you hit the ground. Less colorful than the iron maiden, but most people would confess to absolutely anything after the second drop.

Of course, that’s the point of modern torture techniques. They don’t leave a physical mark or lasting physical impairment, and they aren’t so gory so that the torturers can deny that they are torture.