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Waterboarding Christopher Hitchens

Posted on Jul 2, 2008
Hitchens gets waterboarded

When Christopher Hitchens agreed to be waterboarded, he might have thought he’d last longer than 17 seconds, but, as the columnist put it, “everything completely goes on you when you’re breathing water.”

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By Zhu Bajie, July 8, 2008 at 12:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Next the strappado? The rack?  Maybe stick his naughty bits in a light socket?

Zhu Bajie

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By GrammaConcept, July 7, 2008 at 5:45 pm Link to this comment

I read your posts here and I find myself wondering….....
What’s your point?

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By cyrena, July 6, 2008 at 11:32 pm Link to this comment

“.. I wish I can know the background of this show! Was he challenged because he denied that waterboarding was terrible way of torturing?..”



I was wondering the same thing. I have no idea why he was doing this. It doesn’t say. But, given his support for the rest of GW’s crimes against humanity, my guess is that he was probably trying to prove that it wasn’t such a big deal, which makes him as despicable as Blacksphere and the others.

Anybody who believes (like blacksphere does) that torture provides information when the person doesn’t have any information, is as depraved as they get.

Maybe not as depraved as dick cheney, who fought long and hard each step of the way so that the CIA could retain their authority to continue the psychological portion of their tactics specifically in the tricks they use for sexual humiliation. For whatever the reasons, those tactics seem to be among his personal favorites in the torture toolkit.

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By Quixotic, July 5, 2008 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment

Its called water torture not water boarding; its not something you take your kids to do on a hot afternoon. It was torture during the Spanish Inquisition, it was torture in WWII with the USA convicting Japanese officers and ultimately charging the Emperor with war crimes where they used water torture amongst other harsh interrogation techniques on our troops.

These jackasses, like Christopher Hitchens think because we call it something else it isn’t torture should go through the Nuremberg trial transcripts and see how we used to value the rule of law and used the courts to try people that make Bin Lauden look like piker compared to atrocities the Nazis committed. What the Bush administration has done are war crimes, and no amount of spin will wash that off our countries soul, like McBeth’s wife. But impeaching the thugs would be a statement to the rest of the world that we have our sanity and our country back, otherwise fiends like Christopher Hitchens will continue to befuddle us into believing that someone deserves to be tortured, even when we didn’t do that to the f’ng Nazis. It is not about the terrorists, its about US as a people and what we stand for and believe and our humanity, which seems to sell for $144 a barrel.

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By msgmi, July 5, 2008 at 1:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s only torture if in John Yoo’s perception it leads to organ failure. So without organ failure, it’s not torture. Those that participate in determining the limits of harsh interrogations are those that took the Hipocratic Oath and suddenly have become hypocrites. It appears that the code of ethics has become irrelevant in the 21st century.

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By Juanjo, July 5, 2008 at 10:52 am Link to this comment

Graydon Carter should ask C. Ray Nagin to try the little game. But New Orleans is not longer a subject that sell the filthy crap he publishes.
On second thought Carter should try it himself while being asked, “Haven’t you got a conscience?”

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By mShines, July 5, 2008 at 8:29 am Link to this comment

Christopher Hitchens waterboarded = sad publicity stunt.
Rush Limbaugh waterboarded = pay per view EXTRAVAGANZA!!!
In a time when the 24 hour news cycle exists as product placement to sell us Viagra,Flomax, adult diapers, and a McCain presidency—isn’t it time for them to give what we want?

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By eyeroll, July 4, 2008 at 11:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So this is what it takes for people on the right to understand what torture is. If only everybody in favor of this “interrogation technique” could go through the same thing.

Which sounds like a good idea anyway. Start at the White House!

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CJ's avatar

By CJ, July 4, 2008 at 7:25 pm Link to this comment

I’m reminded of that short clip Olbermann used to run from time to time: Of Rick Sanchez at CNN getting shocked with a stun gun. In it, Rick expresses some considerable discomfort, as one might expect. (Thankfully, Sanchez is not an “intellectual,” a la Hitchens, or Dershowitz, who is also “intellectual.” FTR, Hitchens is by far the superior intellect compared to Dershowitz.)

Christopher Hitchens—sometime in the last year or so during an interview/debate-kinda thing that I caught on C-Span—talked of how the term, “intellectual,” used to be a term of derogation. (“Used to be”? I wondered if Hitchens actually does reside in the States!) On further elaboration, I seem to recall Hitchens saying that to be an “intellectual” was to be (in and during 18th and/or 19th century France or whatever other place and time it was he mentioned) regarded as—in so many words—suspicious/devious, possibly miscreant, etc. These combined connote, among other possibilities, mischievousness.

I AM certain that Hitchens’ never made mention of his shoe size.

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By cann4ing, July 4, 2008 at 10:52 am Link to this comment

Fadel, I share your disgust for the abominable Blackspear post.

In “The Shock Doctrine” Naomi Klein provides a prescient observation.  As “a means of extracting information…, torture is notoriously unreliable, but as a means of terrorizing and controlling populations, nothing is quite as effective.”

“The widespread abuse of prisoners is a virtually foolproof indication that politicians are trying to impose a system—whether political, religious or economic—that is rejected by large numbers of people they are ruling.  Just as ecologists define ecosystems by the presence of certain ‘indicator species’..., torture is an indicator species of a regime that is engaged in a deeply anti-democratic project, even if that regime happens to have come through elections.”

The detailed methods described by Blackspear causes one to wonder whether he/it has served as a prison guard and whether he/it has engaged in torture.  He/it appears to be the product of what Prof. Phillip Zimbardo describes as the “Lucifer effect”—a conclusion derived from his original 1971 Stanford prison experiment in which students were randomly selected to act as guards and prisoners and which had to be aborted because the student guards became increasingly sadistic. 

Whether committed domestically or overseas, torture is a crime under the U.S. code, a felony, and if the object of the act of sadism described by Blackspear dies from the fall, conviction carries with it a possible death sentence.  His method for creating docility is simply a crude alternative to electroshock treatment, which psychologically damages for life.

The methodology of CIA torture is described at length by Prof. Alfred McCoy.  There is no scientific evidence to support Blackspear’s claim that any of these methods will insure that the information acquired is valid for all information provided by the tortured is information the victim of torture thinks the torturer wants to hear.  Kindness, establishing a rapport with a prisoner, on the other hand, has proved far more reliable.

By the way, Fadel, thanks for reminding me of Hitchens despicable support for the invasion of Iraq.

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By James, July 4, 2008 at 10:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Whatever one can say about Hitchens… most of which is negative and true… one must give him some credit for having the balls to even try this. I do not believe you could find many others on the right who would even think about trying this.

I think a good rule for treatment of prisoners is the classic golden rule… do on to others and you would want them to do to you.

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By Fadel Abdallah, July 4, 2008 at 9:56 am Link to this comment

By Blackspeare, July 4 at 7:53 am #

“Getting back to torture, it’s most effective raison d’etre is to keep a violent population of miscreants in check and it does work quite well.” 
Your evil words made me like throwing up! You’re a very sick savage and I feel very insecure that I share this world with you!
أنت ابن شرموطة ومريض نفسيًا

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By Blackspeare, July 4, 2008 at 8:53 am Link to this comment

There are many facets to “Torture.”  In the pure sense, torture arises from the Id to provide a psycho-neurotic excitement need.  However, along with that need is a more pragmatic reason for torture——to threaten, to punish, to terrorize, and to illicit information and make no mistakes about it properly applied techniques can derive information which then of course has to be evaluated,  Only the most highly trained can resist for a period——that is why people engaged in nefarious enterprises, should they be captured, have a “cyanide” capsule on hand.  Unless, like Gary Powers, they chicken out, but that’s OK too because in the end history has a way of making such episodes trivial!

Getting back to torture, it’s most effective raison d’etre is to keep a violent population of miscreants in check and it does work quite well.  One of the best procedures in today’s prisons is to take a prisoner, who is acting up and fails to respond to verbal or light physical warnings, handcuff their hands behind them, take them to a flight of stairs and cause him or her to fall.  With the hands secured behind the miscreants falls flat on their face and if lucky just breaks a nose and knocks out a few teeth.  At the hospital. the report states the prisoner fell down the stairs.  And believe it or not that prisoner when returned to jail is as docile as you would want along with the others at least for a period of time.

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By Spinoza750, July 3, 2008 at 9:16 pm Link to this comment

The American government is preparing for war, why shouldn’t we the people prepare to overthrow the government?

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By Fadel Abdallah, July 3, 2008 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment

What a show! And what’s the point?

This arrogant warmonger Christopher Hitchens, who supported Bush’s war, is a notorious hateful bigot who should have been left to take this experiment to its final conclusion, so he could really have a taste of his own medicine!

I wish I can know the background of this show! Was he challenged because he denied that waterboarding was terrible way of torturing?

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By cann4ing, July 3, 2008 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment

Keep in mind that Hitchens was waterboarded under a controlled setting, with music in the background, knowing that all he had to do was release the metal objects to end it.  Now compare that to the real thing.

In early 1942 my father was arrested by the Japanese Kempetai in Shanghai and taken to Bridge House, an infamous torture chamber, where he was kept for several months in a filthy cage whose dimensions were so small he could neither lie down nor stand.  He was interrogated; asked to sign a confession he was a British agent.  He refused for two reasons.  First it wasn’t true.  Second he was certain his captors would use the confession as an excuse to kill him.

That’s when he was waterboarded.  Several soldiers pinned him down on a wooden platform.  As depicted in this video, another held a sponge over his mouth and nose as water was poured onto the sponge.  His description substantiates Hitchens’ observation that waterboarding is actual drowning for my father lost consciousness several times over a span of hours.

Believing he was going to die right then and there, he signed a confession.  The next day, his captors returned to his cell.  His signature on the confession was too wobbly.  They gave him the choice of signing another or another round.  He again signed.

But that’s the way it is with torture.  The person subjected to it will say anything just to make it stop—even if it isn’t true; even if he or she believes that a confession means death.  Yes, the torturer can extract a confession, but the torturer can never know whether that confession is true.  That is why torture is not merely immoral but useless as a means for extracting actionable intelligence.

But then Cheney, Addington & Alberto Gonzales never advocated torture on the basis of whether it works or not.  They did so as part of their theory of unlimited presidential power.  If the president wants torture, he gets torture.

By the way, my father’s testimony at the War Crimes Trials in Hong Kong, 1948, helped to convict a Japanese general and his subordinates.  Waterboarding was a war crime then, and it is still a war crime.

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By Blackspeare, July 3, 2008 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment

What a wimp——he didn’t last very long——must be out of shape——low heart-lung capacity no doubt.  You have to be in good physical shape to do torture much like working out in the gym which to some people is torture!!!

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By Milly Stiles, July 3, 2008 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hitchens needs to be dumped in a septic tank and left there, along with Cheney.

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By lOst_sOuls_rembrd, July 3, 2008 at 10:59 am Link to this comment

I just finished reading Amy Goodman’s article in TRUTHDIG.  Senator Obama is starting to not keep hardly any of his promises.  The greatest violation of and his responsibility for the destruction of what many of us believed to be our last hope.

His web site is ‘shut down’ for maintenance.  It is 1055PST.  Senator Feingold is introducing a petition to stop the Fisa bill from passing.

Let’s exercise ‘immanent domain’ on the oil companies processing plants.  Stop and end their leases.  Pay them a fair amount to rent the processor plants to make the gas.  Limit the distribution of our gas per state and with the money we are saving we can inspire our great citizens of the Republic of the United States to be great again. 

Gather People!

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By jatihoon, July 3, 2008 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

About time, C.Hitchens, was waterboarded. He is the same reporter/writer, who famously said, “going to war with Iraq was great idea.“He even wrote book called,“god IS NOT GREAT,” but G.W.BUSH IS.

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By troublesum, July 3, 2008 at 10:28 am Link to this comment

I saw another demonstration of waterboarding and the torturers were pouring water by the pail full over the victims face which was covered with a towel.  But I do respect Hitchens for undergoing the process before writing about it unlike some other right wing journalists who say it isn’t torture, like Jonah Goldberg.

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By millsm, July 3, 2008 at 10:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Christopher Hitchins, who supports GBW’s torture policies, feigns being a torture vicim by this phony display. There is no comparison between Hitchin’s charade andthe reality of being assaulted on many levels, imprisoned in subhuman conditions and being psychologically and physically abused with waterboarding being one of the tortures administered by cruel and heedless captors. All this deceptive pretense shows is Hitchin’s arrogance and his ignorance of human decency.

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By Political Insurgent, July 3, 2008 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

Now just think, this is a reporter who is undergoing a demonstration of this popular “coercion” technique. He’s been given all kinds of code words and things, and his “torturers” have gone to great lengths to be careful with him. Think if what those guys who aren’t white journalists are going through, because I seriously doubt their torturers are half as careful with them as these guys were with Hitchens. I doubt they use a little jug, too. Hell, bring on the bucket, these are terrorists we’re talking about.

Thanks Chris, for letting us know.

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By rmaguir, July 3, 2008 at 6:23 am Link to this comment

The strange thing is that, watching that, made my heart race.  I almost felt like I was panicking. 

I was surprised out how little water they actually used, too.

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By troublesum, July 3, 2008 at 4:13 am Link to this comment

Bush has been waterboarding the country for almost eight years.  There’s hardly anything left.  If we survive, will future generations believe that this man was allowed to go on and on unchallanged for eight years?

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