02 July 2008

"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. This was very rapidly brought home to me when, on top of the hood, which still admitted a few flashes of random and worrying strobe light to my vision, three layers of enveloping towel were added. In this pregnant darkness, head downward, I waited for a while until I abruptly felt a slow cascade of water going up my nose. Determined to resist if only for the honor of my navy ancestors who had so often been in peril on the sea, I held my breath for a while and then had to exhale and—as you might expect—inhale in turn. The inhalation brought the damp cloths tight against my nostrils, as if a huge, wet paw had been suddenly and annihilatingly clamped over my face. Unable to determine whether I was breathing in or out, and flooded more with sheer panic than with mere water, I triggered the pre-arranged signal and felt the unbelievable relief of being pulled upright and having the soaking and stifling layers pulled off me." ~ Christopher Hitchens
I have posted here repeatedly (e.g., [0] [1] [2] [3] [4]) on the shameful reluctance of public, politicians and press in the U.S. to talk about torture as our official policy. Christopher Hitchens, stubbornly supportive of the BushCo fiasco in Iraq, was called out by critics for trying to split verbal hairs in a discussion about 'harsh interrogation techniques' like waterboarding. To his credit (I suppose), Hitchens went ahead and sampled the technique ~ of course, with the sort of prearranged 'safe signal' not available to prisoners that would immediately end his experiment. His conclusion is clear in the title to his report on the experience. Why do we need this sort of experiment to prove the obvious?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad you qualified your praise of Hitchens with an (I suppose). While his reversal on this issue may be useful, I doubt his agenda here was anything but sheer self promotion. He is a hack with little or no integrity. He is not the public intellectual adding a thoughtful perspective on contemporary issues that the American media seems to think he is.

03 July, 2008 08:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree with what you say about Hitchens; hes a rather silly hack but isnt it good to have someone from "the other side" saying that torture is, infact, torture?

05 July, 2008 12:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look boys, its not exactly ripping someone's finger nails out or breaking any bones, is it?

Call it torture if you wish; the issue is mere semantics. Whatever you call it, its good to see governments consider it to get information from subhumans perhaps not possible in any other way. Those people have broken the social contract and their "civil rights" are as a consequence severely diminished.

08 July, 2008 10:17  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Anon, You are a fool. If someone is doing this or anything vaguely like it to you or your kids it is not "mere semantics". It is torture. Hitchens is at least honest. How far are you willing to go to defend your bigotry and ignorance?

And of course the premises you argue from are truly fucked up too.

You presume:

(1) That anyone who frightens you must be "subhuman".

We might use the same epithet against those who actively and openly advocates torture, thereby repudiating the civilized positions they allegedly embrace.

(2) That any population in the middle east was ever a party to a "social contract".

That, of course, would assume some voluntary agreement. FOr most of the last century and all of this, the whole region has either been colonized and/or ruled by despots propped up by the US and other western powers. Do you understand the notion of a contract?

You cannot possibly be as dim as you seem. Or, maybe I am being too generous.

08 July, 2008 11:53  

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