Posted by: Lister | March 13, 2008

Waterboarding cure is torture

William Safire at the NYTimes gives some history of water tortures:

The early phrase Chinese water torture described a cruel ordeal invented by Asian ancients. The purpose of slowly dripping water on the forehead until each little splash became unbearable was not “to elicit information through harsh interrogation” but to drive the victim mad.

The water cure was described as the response by some American soldiers to atrocities by Filipino insurgents after our liberation of the Philippine Islands in the Spanish-American war of 1898. At a Congressional hearing in the spring of 1902, the “cure” was described as water “poured onto his face, down his throat and nose. . . . His suffering must be that of a man who is drowning but who cannot drown.” Mark Twain, writing in the May 1902 issue of the North American Review, deplored “the torturing of Filipinos by the awful ‘water cure’ . . . to make them confess.”

President Theodore Roosevelt disapproved, and in 1902 ordered the dismissal of the United States general in charge; in a letter to a German friend dated July 19, 1902, however, Roosevelt was slightly more understanding: to find out which Filipinos committed outrages, he wrote that “not a few” of our officers and enlisted men “began to use the old Filipino method of mild torture, the water cure. Nobody was seriously damaged, whereas the Filipinos had inflicted incredible tortures upon our own people.” T.R. was careful to add, “Nevertheless, torture is not a thing that we can tolerate.”

To more recent times: in 1953, a U.S. fighter pilot told United Press that North Korean captors gave him the “water treatment” in which “they would bend my head back, put a towel over my face and pour water over the towel. I could not breathe. . . . When I would pass out, they would shake me and begin again.”

(Via Unqualified Offerings).



  1. Dear god, you think waterboarding isn’t absolutely necessary in some cases? You’re an idiot.

    Do you know how many lives have been saved through information we got from waterboarding?

    You have the right to protest, as I have the right to point you out to be a total, total f***ing moron.

  2. Do YOU know how many lives have been saved by waterboarding? Thought not. Maybe it’s lower than you expect.

    Have you heard the opinion of those with experience in interrogation? Like US Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, the dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point who says that shows like 24 “have adversely affected the training and performance of real American soldiers…. They should do a show where torture backfires.”

    Read about the FBI’s experience at Gitmo:

    some military intelligence officers wanted to use harsher interrogation methods than the FBI did. As a result, complained one inspector, “every time the FBI established a rapport with a detainee, the military would step in and the detainee would stop being cooperative.” So much for the utility of torture.

    So maybe waterboarding cost more lives than it has saved. Have you ever considered that?

  3. Since waterboarding is not torture, I decided to try it on my kids in this video:

  4. Did they tell you where they hid the candy?

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