Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Hitchens Submits Himself to Waterboarding

I'm one of the rare people who was a fan of Christopher Hitchens before he abandoned his leftist roots and have stuck with him since (though I disagree with his support for the Iraq War).

I remember going to one of his book readings in 1999 (the anti-Clinton book) and during the Q & A session, he casually pulled a pint of Jim Beam out of his pocket and took a swig before answering someone's annoying question. He's an old style journalist and I respect him regardless of his whims.

And now he's the first journalist to actually have himself waterboarded to find out what all the hub-bub is about. Here's his description of the experience:
You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it “simulates” the feeling of drowning. This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning because you are drowning—or, rather, being drowned, albeit slowly and under controlled conditions and at the mercy (or otherwise) of those who are applying the pressure. The “board” is the instrument, not the method. You are not being boarded. You are being watered. This was very rapidly brought home to me when, on top of the hood, which still admitted a few flashes of random and worrying strobe light to my vision, three layers of enveloping towel were added. In this pregnant darkness, head downward, I waited for a while until I abruptly felt a slow cascade of water going up my nose. Determined to resist if only for the honor of my navy ancestors who had so often been in peril on the sea, I held my breath for a while and then had to exhale and—as you might expect—inhale in turn. The inhalation brought the damp cloths tight against my nostrils, as if a huge, wet paw had been suddenly and annihilatingly clamped over my face. Unable to determine whether I was breathing in or out, and flooded more with sheer panic than with mere water, I triggered the pre-arranged signal and felt the unbelievable relief of being pulled upright and having the soaking and stifling layers pulled off me. I find I don’t want to tell you how little time I lasted.
Here's the youtube video and here's the article. Thank god for journalists like Christopher Hitchens. I think I'm gonna try it myself. Anyone wanna tie me down and pour water over my towel-covered face?
Well, Hitchens lasted about 10 seconds.

Now, to really simulate the experience, he'd have to have armed, hostile enemy troops shouting at him in a language he doesn't understand, and not know whether he's going to make it out of there alive or not -- and not have the option of saying "red" or dropping the pieces of metal in his hands to immediately end the demonstration.

Publicity stunt, not much more!

--Random Libertarian
It’s hardly a publicity stunt. A publicity stunt would’ve been performing a meaningless act like eating worms on Fear Factor or going on an episode of Survivor. Despite the hundreds of journalists who’ve discussed waterboarding ad nauseum and the subject of whether it’s really torture or not, Hitchens is one of the only journalists --- and the only big name one --- to actually come to an opinion on the issue by actually trying it himself. Maybe you don’t think the issue of whether the US tortures people is important. I do, and I respect anyone who thinks it’s important to come to a conclusion on important issues by direct experience. Granted, there's no way anyone could put themselves in the exact situation as a POW, but he's getting as close as possible.
PS: It was 17 seconds, to be exact. I'd like to see you do it for even five.
17 seconds? He certainly wasn't ginboarded then.
Sounds like waterboarding works.
Ginboarding? To Hitchens, that doesn't sound like torture, that's a Saturday night!

I apologize for my last comment, I had no idea how popular this joke (or ones like it) already was.
As expected, someone beat me to the "Hitchens waterboarded with some form of alcohol" joke.

I'll always love Hitchens for his attacks on Kissinger, but I still can't figure out why he turned his back on the Left for being right about the Iraq War.
Now this is investigative journalism. I'd like to see a few folks from FOX/CNN give this a go. Good find.
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