Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Say you're on a jury. The uy in front of you has confessed to bringing in smack from Afghanistan, selling it to third graders (he accepts rare Pokemon cards as payment) and blowing away one of their mothers in front of the crumb snatcher. Slam dunk case, right? Vote guilty, give him the chair, and be home in time for "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?"

But wait. The defense counsel gets the lead detective back for cross examination. On cross, the detective reveals that the defendant only made this confession after the cops drownded him and pulled him out before he asphyxiated. Might that change your verdict?

I suspect it would change everything. For most people it would render anything the man confessed unreliable, when you look at it. But it doesn't matter. This is a form of interrogation meant for detainees who are never supposed to go in front of a jury.


The nomination of Mr. Mukasey was almost derailed by his refusal at his confirmation hearings to define as torture the interrogation technique known as waterboarding, which simulates drowning and is reported to have been used by the Central Intelligence Agency on a handful of Qaeda leaders since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

In a letter to senators last week, Mr. Mukasey said the practice of waterboarding was “repugnant” but added that he could not judge its legality until he had been given access to classified information about interrogation techniques.

Don't know what kind of classified info Mukasey is waiting for, but thanks to Majikthise I'm privy to an insider's view.

2. 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.

Call it “Chinese Water Torture,” “the Barrel,” or “the Waterfall,” it is all the same. Whether the victim is allowed to comply or not is usually left up to the interrogator. Many waterboard team members, even in training, enjoy the sadistic power of making the victim suffer and often ask questions as an after thought. These people are dangerous and predictable and when left unshackled, unsupervised or undetected they bring us the murderous abuses seen at Abu Ghraieb, Baghram and Guantanamo. No doubt, to avoid human factors like fear and guilt someone has created a one-button version that probably looks like an MRI machine with high intensity waterjets.

Yeah, they probably have.

If the Deomocrats were at all an effective opposition party, Mukasey probably wouldn't have been nominated. At the very least, he wouldn't have hedged on waterboarding. But he did, and thanks to Feinstein and Schumer, he's probably a shoo-in.

I'm starting to wish Cindy Sheehan would forget Pelosi's seat and raise her sights to the Senate.

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