The Army has been forbidden to use waterboarding to get vital intel from enemy combatants, but Americans are apparently using the interrogation – some would say torture – technique on each other for reasons ranging from curiosity to survival training: 

† Chad Hudgens, a former salesman for motivational coaching firm Prosper, Inc., has filed a suit against the company alleging that his supervisor, Joshua Christopherson, waterboarded him “to demonstrate that [the sales team] should work as hard on sales as the employee had worked to breathe,” reports The Salt Lake City Tribune. 

† Peace Corps volunteer Jean-Pierre Larroque had his friends drape a towel over his face and pour a two-liter Coke bottle with water on the towel. The Wall Street Journal reports:   

Larroque remembers feeling blind panic as his air supply ran out. Willingly inducing similar feelings in another human being would be torture, he believes. 

“This leaves no mark, no trace. It’s almost like the ideal way of torturing someone,” he said. “This is torture 2.0.” 

The Journal adds that Justice Department lawyer Daniel Levin decided waterboarding was torture after he researched the issue by going through it himself, and military veteran Kaj Larsen, who had himself waterboarded on camera for a segment on Al Gore’s Current TV, described the experience as being “like having a hot coal in your chest that you can’t get out.” 

† Richard Mezo was subjected to the technique during a week-long Navy POW survival training program, known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE): 

The camp had an array of torture devices, including the infamous “black box” … 

We were all interrogated a few times, some of us more than others. During one interrogation, I was led blindfolded into a room. Suddenly one of the “enemy” hit me hard in the stomach – a sucker punch that left me doubled over, out of breath. I think three other people were present, but I was never sure. Two men grabbed me at my sides. They put a pole of some kind under my knees and bent me over backward. My head went down lower than the rest of my body. 

The questions (What is your unit? Where are you from?) were asked by one man. But we were not supposed to talk. I remember that the blindfold was heavy and completely covered my face. As the two men held me down, one on each side, someone began pouring water onto the blindfold, and suddenly I was drowning. The water streamed into my nose and then into my mouth when I gasped for breath. I couldn’t stop it. All I could breathe was water, and it was terrifying. I think I began to lose consciousness. I felt my lungs begin to fill with burning liquid. 

The Stiletto recalls watching Fox News reporter Steve Harrigan repeatedly being waterboarded on camera (video link) with a variety of techniques. He also concluded it is torture – but also a “pretty efficient” method to get people to talk from which they can recover completely within a few minutes. Jonah Goldberg notes that America’s history of waterboarding amounts to “less than five minutes, three awful men, five years ago.”  Columnist Paul Greenberg wants to ask “any politician who takes the high ethical ground, at least in his own opinion” just one question: “How many innocent lives would you be willing to risk in order to spare a Khalid Sheik Mohammed a minute of stark fear?” 

Yes, it’s torture – but it’s the lesser of two evils. 

For what it’s worth, in searching for a video of Harrigan’s report, The Stiletto came across a slew of home-made waterboarding videos on a variety of online video sharing sites – which means far more Americans have undergone waterboarding (albeit willingly) than terrorists. 

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog.

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