07 July 2008

Yes, Virginia, it's torture

Christopher Hitchens discovered recently that his earlier assessment of torture was correct.

Hot on the heels of having tried to argue a distinction between something called extreme interrogation and torture, he agreed to experience waterboarding.

For those who don't know, waterboarding is a technique whereby the victim is bound to an inclined board, head down,  so that he so she cannot move.  Heavy towels are then placed over the victims face.  Water is then poured on the towels.

Hitchens lasted 10 seconds - by his own account - before he dropped the weights he was holding as part of the safety procedures.

The waterboarding stopped.

There were safety procedures in Hitchen's case simply because he wasn't a prisoner who had been rendered  - as the phrase goes - into the hands of the people who do this sort of thing for a living.

His demonstration was run by American special forces veterans.

10 seconds.

At least that's what he told an interview with CBC's As it happens.

The full account, in Hitchens own words, can be found in the August issue of Vanity Fair.