Believe me, it’s torture

Christopher Hitchens on his waterboarding experience.


2 thoughts on “Believe me, it’s torture

  1. I don’t heart Hitchens myself (though I think he’s a really good writer and intellectually honest, as opposed to most people who support the war), but I thought that essay was excellent. And I love the fact that the pro-war punditry is attacking him now– as if being against sadism somehow makes him a war protester.

  2. I thought the essay was great too, and I was surprised to see Hitchens write a piece like this. It’s one example of why I like him so well. Though he can bloviate as loudly as the next right-wing war supporter, his willingness to look at the nuances of the arguments make me appreciate his arguments more. And while I would consider waterboarding torture, I hadn’t really thought of it in degrees, as he points out when he refers to traditional methods of torture. I recently read a first-person account by a man who tortured people in Zimbabwe—it was published on the BBC website. The man had fled the country and the agency that employed him, and was having a hard time living with himself and his memories. There was a warning at the start of the essay that said some readers would find the descriptions of torture disturbing. Well, I did. One scene in particular seared itself on to my brain and I stopped reading after that. Waterboarding, in comparison, seems “reasonable,” particularly when Hitchens makes the point that “a man who has been waterboarded may well emerge from the experience a bit shaky, but he is in a mood to surrender the relevant information and is unmarked and undamaged and indeed ready for another bout in quite a short time.”

    But then we’re talking about degrees of torture, which is still pretty twisted in my opinion.

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