As if detecting my misery and shame, one of my interrogators comfortingly said, â€œAny time is a long time when youâ€™re breathing water.â€ 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: â€œIf slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.â€ Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.
Here’s a curious thing. Scylla, at the Straight Dope message board, decided to try waterboarding himself to see what the fuss is all about. For those who don’t know, waterboarding is an interrogation technique used by American intelligence on detainees. It simulates the sensation of drowning without actually drowning you, triggering the Fuck I’m Gonna Die reflex.
Read Scylla’s report here. (Note: For some reason, today – 14 May 2014 – Google Safebrowsing has pinged the Straight Dope message boards as a potential hazard. Click at your own risk.)