Monday, October 29, 2007
Slow Motion Suffocation
Malcolm Nance is a SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) master instructor who has worked in counter-terrorism for 20 years. Here's his bio over at Small Wars Journal, which gives you an idea of his commitment to national security. And here's his long and forceful denunciation of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques". His conclusion is in the title: Waterboarding is torture... Period.
Nance is no softie. Unlike the guys talking tough from the comfort of Washington offices, television studios and campaign podiums, he's personally experienced every technique under discussion, interviewed survivors of torture, and studied all the taped and written debriefings available. And here's what he has to say about what he's witnessed:
Most people can not stand to watch a high intensity kinetic interrogation. One has to overcome basic human decency to endure watching or causing the effects. The brutality would force you into a personal moral dilemma between humanity and hatred. It would leave you to question the meaning of what it is to be an American.
If you can, read the whole thing. If not, keep this in mind the next time someone dismisses waterboarding as a little bit of water in the detainee's face:
Waterboarding is not a simulation. Unless you have been strapped down to the board, have endured the agonizing feeling of the water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs, you will not know the meaning of the word.
Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that, in the American model, occurs under the watch of a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a trained strap-in/strap-out team. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning. How much the victim is to drown depends on the desired result (in the form of answers to questions shouted into the victim’s face) and the obstinacy of the subject. A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience, to horrific suffocating punishment to the final death spiral.
Waterboarding is slow motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of black out and expiration –usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death. Its lack of physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threaten with its use again and again. (Emphasis in original.)
And here's a question for the GOP 'roid ragers. Would any one of them agree to be waterboarded? Not as part of a hypothetical scenario to prevent a terrorist attack. Just to know what they're talking about? If it's as benign as they say it is, their hands should go up as quickly as when they're asked if they'd authorize it.