Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Hitchens gets waterboarded

I think there are a handful of people in this world I would consider really contrary, even obstinate personalities (and believe me, I don't consider that a bad quality). People who can stand the heat, people who say and do things that either aren't popular, or other people would walk away from because they are hard. Christopher Hitchens is one of those people I consider a testa duro, in the mostly good way. When asked by Vanity Fair if he'd try out being waterboarded for an article, he said yes.

I think that's why it means a bit to me, watching him experience waterboarding in a controlled environment, and explaining how he felt, and that it is torture. Love him or hate him, he's a damn good writer and lets you know exactly what went on, and perhaps still is, in the sense of how the sensation stayed with him:

Steeling myself to remember what it had been like last time, and to learn from the previous panic attack, I fought down the first, and some of the second, wave of nausea and terror but soon found that I was an abject prisoner of my gag reflex. The interrogators would hardly have had time to ask me any questions, and I knew that I would quite readily have agreed to supply any answer. I still feel ashamed when I think about it. Also, in case it’s of interest, I have since woken up trying to push the bedcovers off my face, and if I do anything that makes me short of breath I find myself clawing at the air with a horrible sensation of smothering and claustrophobia. No doubt this will pass. As if detecting my misery and shame, one of my interrogators comfortingly said, “Any time is a long time when you’re breathing water.” I could have hugged him for saying so, and just then I was hit with a ghastly sense of the sadomasochistic dimension that underlies the relationship between the torturer and the tortured. I apply the Abraham Lincoln test for moral casuistry: “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.
Believe Me, It's Torture

If it were a piece of cake, he'd have said as much. But even with a controlled situation where he knows he can stop it, and even being a person I don't see as particularly squeamish, what he experienced just sounds ghastly, and I am more convinced having seen the video, that it's not really something governments should do--period.

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