We are having a heated political discussion in the USA this week wondering if waterboarding is torture or not as Michael Mukasey faces a Senate confirmation hearing on his attorney general nomination — but waterboarding has a long history as part of the human core in antiquity:
Waterboarding is a technique in which prisoners are subjected to simulated drowning by binding them to an inclined board, with their feet raised and head a bit below their feet. Then cellophane or cloth is wrapped over a prisoner’s face and water is poured over the person.
Vietnam 1968: In Da Nang, the U.S. military used waterboarding as an interrogation technique:
Some, like Vice President Cheney, argue waterboarding is a necessary and proven interrogation technique:
Waterboarding dates at least to the Spanish Inquisition, when it was known as the tormenta de toca. It has been used by some of the most cruel dictatorships in modern times, including the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.
Here’s a drawing from human rights activists in Chad in 1980
demonstrating the waterboarding technique of military ruler Hissene
Habre — who was subsequently indicted by a Belgian court for torture
and crimes against humanity and faces prosecution in Senegal:
In 1845, and for the next hundred years, waterboarding was commonly used in New York prisons to torture — “The Negro Convict” —
Dec. 18, 1858 Auburn State Prison, New York. The convict,
More, was a negro. He is certified to have been a man of naturally
pleasant temper, but violent when crossed. …he was dragged by main
force, and after many violent struggles, to the shower-bath; all the
water that was in the tank — amounting to from three to five barrels,
the quantity is uncertain — was showered upon him in spite of his
piteous cries; a few minutes after his release from the bath he fell
prostrate, was carried to his cell, and died in five minutes.
In the Middle Ages, waterboarding was called — “The Water Cure” —
Do you think waterboarding is torture?
Or is waterboarding just an unfortunate, but important,
method for extracting information out of unwilling people and an
effective punishment for those who need physical behavior correction?