Today’s Washington Post article on Vice President Cheney’s enthusiastic endorsement of waterboarding in an interview finally does what I wish more torture-related articles do, which is give a full background of the technique in question. Here’s how the article ends:
In waterboarding — one of a number of drowning-simulation techniques that date to the Spanish Inquisition — a prisoner is generally strapped down with his feet higher than his head. Water is then poured on his face while his nose and mouth are covered by a cloth. The technique produces an intense sensation of being close to suffocation and drowning, according to interrogation experts and human rights advocates.
The Khmer Rouge and other outlaw regimes have employed the method, and it has been condemned by many human rights and military lawyers as a clear example of illegal torture.
In 1947, the United States prosecuted a Japanese soldier for war crimes and sentenced him to 15 years hard labor for using the technique on a U.S. prisoner.
When torture proponents discuss waterboarding and other forms of torture, they use the same approach I talked about yesterday with Rush Limbaugh’s response to Michael J Fox’s ad, which is to deny the facts and instead pretend like torture is no big deal. It’s essential that the media educate people on what these approaches are and how they have been used in the past. Glad to see the Washington Post taking on that responsibility.