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Waterboarding is a form of
torture Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering on a person for reasons such as punishment, extracting a confession, interrogational torture, interrogation for information, or intimidating third parties. definitions of tortur ...

torture
in which
water is poured
water is poured
over a cloth covering the face and breathing passages of an immobilized captive, causing the person to experience the sensation of
drowning Drowning is a type of Asphyxia, suffocation induced by the submersion of the mouth and nose in a liquid. Most instances of fatal drowning occur alone or in situations where others present are either unaware of the victim's situation or unable t ...

drowning
. In the most common method of waterboarding, the captive's face is covered with cloth or some other thin material and immobilized on their back at an incline of 10 to 20 degrees. Torturers pour water onto the face over the breathing passages, causing an almost immediate
gag reflex The pharyngeal reflex or gag reflex is a reflex muscular contraction of the back of the throat, evoked by touching the roof of the mouth, the back of the tongue, the area around the tonsils, the palatine uvula, uvula, and the back of the throat. It, ...
and creating a drowning sensation for the captive. Normally, water is poured intermittently to prevent death. However, if the water is poured uninterruptedly it will lead to death by
asphyxia Asphyxia or asphyxiation is a condition of deficient supply of oxygen to the Human body, body which arises from abnormal breathing. Asphyxia causes generalized hypoxia, which affects primarily the tissues and organs. There are many circumstance ...
, also called dry drowning. Waterboarding can cause extreme pain, damage to
lungs The lungs are the primary organs of the respiratory system The respiratory system (also respiratory apparatus, ventilatory system) is a biological system consisting of specific organs and structures used for gas exchange in animals and p ...

lungs
,
brain damage Neurotrauma, brain damage or brain injury (BI) is the destruction or degeneration of brain cells. Brain injuries occur due to a wide range of internal and external factors. In general, brain damage refers to significant, undiscriminating t ...
from
oxygen deprivation Asphyxia or asphyxiation is a condition of deficient supply of oxygen to the Human body, body which arises from abnormal breathing. Asphyxia causes generalized hypoxia, which affects primarily the tissues and organs. There are many circumstance ...
, other physical injuries including
broken bones A bone fracture (abbreviated FRX or Fx, Fx, or #) is a medical condition in which there is a partial or complete break in the continuity of any bone A bone is a rigid organ Organ may refer to: Biology * Organ (biology), a part of an ...
due to struggling against restraints, and lasting psychological damage. Adverse physical effects can last for months, and psychological effects for years. The term "water board torture" appeared in press reports as early as 1976. Waterboarding has been used in diverse places and at various points in history, including the
Spanish Spanish might refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards are a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language, spoken in Spain and many Latin American countries **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Cana ...
and Flemish Inquisitions, by the United States military during the
Philippine–American War The Philippine–American War or Filipino–American War ( es, Guerra filipina-estadounidense, tl, Digmaang Pilipino–Amerikano), previously referred to as the Philippine Insurrection or the Tagalog Insurgency by the United States, was an arm ...
, by Japanese and German officials during World War II, by the French in the Algerian War, by the U.S. during the Vietnam War (despite a ban on the practice by U.S. generals), by the Pinochet regime in Chile, by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, by British security forces during
the Troubles The Troubles ( ga, Na Trioblóidí) were an ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland that lasted about 30 years from the late 1960s to 1998. Also known internationally as the Northern Ireland conflict, it is sometimes described as an "i ...
, and by South African police during the
Apartheid Apartheid (, especially South African English: , ; , "aparthood") was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the So ...
era. In the wake of World War II, the U.S. executed Japanese war criminals convicted of, among other crimes, waterboarding American prisoners of war. Historically, waterboarding has been viewed as an especially severe form of torture. The use of waterboarding became a matter of public controversy in the United States during the
War on Terror The war on terror, officially the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), is an ongoing international Counterterrorism, counterterrorism military campaign initiated by the United States following the September 11 attacks. The main targets of the campa ...
in the 2000s. In 2002 and 2003, the CIA waterboarded at least three Al-Qaeda suspects:
Abu Zubaydah Abu Zubaydah ( ; , ''Abū Zubaydah''; born March 12, 1971, as Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn) is a Saudi Arabian currently held by the U.S. in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. He is held under the authority of Authorization for Use o ...
,
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (sometimes also spelled Shaikh; also known by at least 50 pseudonyms; born March 1, 1964 or April 14, 1965) is a Pakistani Islamist militant held by the United States at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp under terrorism-re ...
, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. The CIA relied on the then-secret
torture memos A set of legal memoranda known as the "Torture Memos" (officially the Memorandum Regarding Military Interrogation of Alien Unlawful Combatants Held Outside The United States) were drafted by John Yoo as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the ...
, prepared by the Department of Justice's
Office of Legal Counsel The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) is an office in the United States Department of Justice The United States Department of Justice (DOJ), also known as the Justice Department, is a United States federal executive departments, federal executi ...
, which authorized the use of so-called "
enhanced interrogation techniques "Enhanced interrogation techniques" or "enhanced interrogation" is a euphemism for the program of systematic torture of detainees by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and various components of the U.S. Ar ...
", including waterboarding, on extrajudicial prisoners of the United States. In December 2005, the United States passed the Detainee Treatment Act, which banned U.S. military from using torture (including waterboarding); the bill was signed into law by President
George W. Bush George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is an American politician who served as the 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2009. A member of the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party, Bush family, and son of the 41st ...
. However, the law did not affect the CIA's use of waterboarding. When Congress passed a bill restricting the use of waterboarding by the CIA in 2008, President Bush vetoed it. In January 2009,
U.S. President The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the Federal government of the United States#Executive branch, executive branch of the Federal gove ...
Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, Obama was the first Af ...
signed Executive Order 13491, which banned the use of waterboarding and other forms of torture in interrogations of detainees by any government agency. In April 2009, President Obama stated that he considered waterboarding to be torture.


Origin of the term

While the technique has been used in various forms for centuries, the term ''water board'' was recorded first in a 1976 UPI report: "A Navy spokesman admitted use of the 'water board' torture ... to 'convince each trainee that he won't be able to physically resist what an enemy would do to him.'" The verb-noun ''waterboarding'' dates from 2004. Techniques using forcible drowning to extract information had hitherto been referred to as " water torture", "water treatment", " water cure" or simply "torture". Professor Darius Rejali of
Reed College Reed College is a private university, private liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon. Founded in 1908, Reed is a residential college with a campus in the Eastmoreland, Portland, Oregon, Eastmoreland neighborhood, with Tudor style architecture ...
, author of '' Torture and Democracy'' (2007), speculates that the term waterboarding probably has its origin in the need for a
euphemism A euphemism () is an innocuous word or expression used in place of one that is deemed Profanity, offensive or suggests something unpleasant. Some euphemisms are intended to amuse, while others use bland, inoffensive terms for concepts that the us ...
.


Technique

The practice of waterboarding has differed. During the Algerian War of Independence and Marcos' dictatorship in the Philippines, waterboarding involved forcing the victim to swallow or inhale water. Other forms of waterboarding prevent water from entering the lungs. The
United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare, land military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the eight Uniformed services of the United States, U.S. uniformed services, and is designated as the Army o ...
's
Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) is a training program, best known by its military acronym, that prepares United States Armed Forces, U.S. military personnel, United States Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense ci ...
(SERE) training occasionally included waterboarding, in a less severe form that only mimicked drowning. Different accounts of waterboarding by the United States disagree about how it is practiced. Some accounts describe saturated cloth and water being used to create a misperception of drowning, while others describe water entering the body. The United States'
Office of Legal Counsel The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) is an office in the United States Department of Justice The United States Department of Justice (DOJ), also known as the Justice Department, is a United States federal executive departments, federal executi ...
in August 2002 responded to the request by the CIA for a legal opinion regarding the use of certain interrogation techniques. It included the following account of the CIA's definition of waterboarding in a Top Secret 2002 memorandum as follows: Historically in the West, the technique is known to have been used in the
Spanish Inquisition The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition ( es, Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición), commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition ( es, Inquisición española), was established in 1478 by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, Cathol ...
. The suffocation of bound prisoners with water has been favored because, unlike most other torture techniques, it produces no marks on the body. CIA officers who have subjected themselves to the technique have lasted an average of 14 seconds before refusing to continue.


Reported demonstrations

In 2006 and 2007,
Fox News The Fox News Channel, abbreviated FNC, commonly known as Fox News, and stylized in all caps, is an American multinational conservative cable news television channel based in New York City New York, often cal ...
and
Current TV Current TV was an American television channel which broadcast from August 1, 2005, to August 20, 2013. Prior INdTV founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, with Ronald Burkle, each held a sizable stake in Current TV. Comcast and DirecTV each held a s ...
, respectively, demonstrated a waterboarding technique. In the videos, each correspondent is held against a board by the torturers.
Christopher Hitchens Christopher Eric Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011) was a British-American author and journalist who wrote or edited over 30 books (including five essay collections) on culture, politics, and literature. Born and educated in England, ...
voluntarily subjected himself to a filmed demonstration of waterboarding in 2008, an experience which he recounted in ''Vanity Fair''. He was bound on a horizontal board with a black mask over his face. A group of men said to be highly trained in this tactic, who demanded anonymity, carried out the torture. Hitchens was strapped to the board at the chest and feet, face up, and unable to move. Metal objects were placed in each of his hands, which he could drop if feeling "unbearable stress", and he was given a code word that if said would immediately end the exercise. The interrogator placed a towel over Hitchens' face, and poured water on it. After 16 seconds, Hitchens threw the metal objects to the floor and the torturers pulled the mask from his face, allowing him to breathe.


Mental and physical effects

Allen Keller, the director of the
Bellevue Hospital Bellevue Hospital (officially NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue and formerly known as Bellevue Hospital Center) is a hospital in New York City New York, often called New York City or NYC, is the List of United States ...
/
New York University New York University (NYU) is a private university, private research university in New York City. Chartered in 1831 by the New York State Legislature, NYU was founded by a group of New Yorkers led by then-United States Secretary of the Treasu ...
Program for Survivors of Torture, has treated "a number of people" who had been subjected to forms of near-asphyxiation, including waterboarding. In an interview for ''
The New Yorker ''The New Yorker'' is an American weekly magazine featuring journalism, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons, and poetry. Founded as a weekly in 1925, the magazine is published 47 times annually, with five of these issues ...
'', he argued that "it was indeed torture. 'Some victims were still traumatized years later', he said. One patient couldn't take showers, and panicked when it rained. 'The fear of being killed is a terrifying experience', he said". Keller also gave a full description in 2007 in testimony before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the practice: The CIA's Office of Medical Services noted in a 2003 memo that "for reasons of physical fatigue or psychological resignation, the subject may simply give up, allowing excessive filling of the airways and loss of consciousness". In an open letter in 2007 to U.S. Attorney General
Alberto Gonzales Alberto R. Gonzales (born August 4, 1955) is an American lawyer who served as the 80th United States Attorney General The United States attorney general (AG) is the head of the United States Department of Justice, and is the chief law enforc ...
,
Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international non-governmental organization, headquartered in New York City, that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. The group pressures governments, policy makers, companies, and individual human ri ...
asserted that waterboarding can cause the sort of "severe pain" prohibited by (the implementation in the United States of the
United Nations Convention Against Torture The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (commonly known as the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT)) is an international human rights treaty under the review of the United Nation ...
), that the psychological effects can last long after waterboarding ends (another of the criteria under 18 USC 2340), and that uninterrupted waterboarding can ultimately cause death.


Classification as torture

Waterboarding is considered to be torture by a wide range of authorities, including legal experts,
rough draft
is also available.
politicians, war veterans, intelligence officials, military judges, and human rights organizations.
David Miliband David Wright Miliband (born 15 July 1965) is the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the International Rescue Committee The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is a global humanitarian aid, relief, and development nongovernment ...
, then
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...
Foreign Secretary The secretary of state for foreign, Commonwealth and development affairs, known as the foreign secretary, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), minister of the Crown of the Government of the United Kingdom and head of the Foreign, Commonwe ...
, described it as torture on 19 July 2008, and stated "the UK unreservedly condemns the use of torture". Arguments have been put forward in the United States that it might not be torture in all cases, or that it is unclear. The U.S. State Department has recognized "submersion of the head in water" as torture in other circumstances, for example, in its 2005 Country Report on
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa , image_map2 = , capital = Tunis , largest_city = capital , ...
. The
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization whose stated purposes are to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be ...
' ''Report of the Committee Against Torture: Thirty-fifth Session'' of November 2006, stated that state parties should rescind any interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, that constitutes torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.


Classification in the U.S.

Whether waterboarding should be classified as a method of torture was not widely debated in the United States before it was alleged, in 2004, that members of the CIA had used the technique against certain suspected detained terrorists. Subsequently, the U.S. government released the Bybee memo, a memorandum dated 1 August 2002, from Jay Bybee at the
Office of Legal Counsel The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) is an office in the United States Department of Justice The United States Department of Justice (DOJ), also known as the Justice Department, is a United States federal executive departments, federal executi ...
for
White House Counsel The White House counsel is a senior staff appointee of the president of the United States whose role is to advise the president on all legal issues concerning the president and their Administration of federal assistance in the United States, ad ...
Albert Gonzales. The OLC memo concluded that waterboarding did not constitute torture and could be used to interrogate
enemy combatant Enemy combatant is a person who, either lawfully or unlawfully, engages in hostilities for the other side in an armed conflict. Usually enemy combatants are members of the armed forces of the state with which another state is at war. In the case ...
s. Bybee reasoned that "in order for pain or suffering to rise to the level of torture, the statute requires that it be severe" and that waterboarding did not cause severe pain or suffering either physically or mentally. A separate memo in July 2002, written by the Defense Department's Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, described the use of waterboarding and other techniques of extreme duress as "torture" and said that its use could yield unreliable information, and warned that "The unintended consequence of a U.S. policy that provides for the torture of prisoners is that it could be used by our adversaries as justification for the torture of captured U.S. personnel." This memo was forwarded to the Defense Department Office of the General Counsel, and then to the CIA's acting general counsel and Justice Department, even as the George W. Bush administration authorized waterboarding and other measures. For over three years during the George W. Bush administration, the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility conducted an investigation into the propriety of the Bybee memo and other memos by the Justice Department on waterboarding and other "enhanced" interrogation techniques. The OPR report findings were that former Deputy AAG
John Yoo John Choon Yoo (; born July 10, 1967) is a Korean-born American legal scholar and former government official who serves as the Emanuel S. Heller Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley The University of California, Berke ...
committed intentional professional misconduct and that former AAG Jay Bybee committed professional misconduct. These findings were dismissed in a memo from Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis, who found that Yoo showed "poor judgment" but did not violate ethical standards. Commentators have noted that the memos omitted key relevant precedents, including a
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2 ...
precedent under then-Governor George W. Bush when the state convicted and sentenced to prison for ten years a county sheriff for waterboarding a criminal suspect. Bush did not issue a pardon for the sheriff. Former George W. Bush administration officials
Dick Cheney Richard Bruce Cheney ( ; born January 30, 1941) is an American politician and businessman who served as the 46th vice president of the United States from 2001 to 2009 under President George W. Bush. He is currently the oldest living former U ...
and
John Ashcroft John David Ashcroft (born May 9, 1942) is an American lawyer, Lobbying, lobbyist and former politician who served as the 79th United States Attorney General, U.S. Attorney General in the Presidency of George W. Bush, George W. Bush administratio ...
have stated since leaving office that they do not consider waterboarding to be torture. At least one Republican member of the
U.S. Congress The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is Bicameralism, bicameral, composed of a lower body, the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives, and an upper body, ...
, Ted Poe, has taken a similar position. Other Republican officials have provided less definitive views regarding whether waterboarding is torture. Andrew C. McCarthy, a former Republican prosecutor including in the George W. Bush administration, has stated that when used in "some number of instances that were not prolonged or extensive", waterboarding should not qualify as torture under the law. McCarthy has also stated that "waterboarding is close enough to torture that reasonable minds can differ on whether it is torture" and that " ere shouldn't be much debate that subjecting someone to aterboardingrepeatedly would cause the type of mental anguish required for torture". Many former senior George W. Bush administration officials, on the other hand, have seriously questioned or directly challenged the legality of waterboarding. These include former State Department Counselor Philip Zelikow, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, former Homeland Security Chief
Tom Ridge Thomas Joseph Ridge (born August 26, 1945) is an American politician and author who served as the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security from 2001 to 2003, and the first United States Secretary of Homeland Security from 2003 to 2005. ...
, former head of the Office of Legal Counsel
Jack Goldsmith Jack Landman Goldsmith III (born September 26, 1962) is an American legal scholar. He is a professor at Harvard Law School who has written extensively in the fields of international law, civil procedure, federal courts, conflict of laws, and nat ...
, General Ricardo Sanchez, FBI Director
Robert Mueller Robert Swan Mueller III (; born August 7, 1944) is an American lawyer and government official who served as the sixth director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is the head of the ...
, and former
Convening Authority The term convening authority is used in United States Military justice, military law to refer to an individual with certain legal powers granted under either the Uniform Code of Military Justice (i.e. the regular military justice system) or the Mil ...
for the Guantanamo military commissions Susan J. Crawford. During his tenure as head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in 2003–2004,
Jack Goldsmith Jack Landman Goldsmith III (born September 26, 1962) is an American legal scholar. He is a professor at Harvard Law School who has written extensively in the fields of international law, civil procedure, federal courts, conflict of laws, and nat ...
put a halt to the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique because of serious concern over its legality, but Goldsmith's order was quickly reversed by others within the George W. Bush administration. A Republican 2008 candidate for president, Senator
John McCain John Sidney McCain III (August 29, 1936 – August 25, 2018) was an American politician and United States Navy officer who served as a United States senator from Arizona from 1987 until his death in 2018. He previously served two terms ...
who himself was tortured during his years as a
prisoner of war A prisoner of war (POW) is a person who is held Captivity, captive by a belligerent power during or immediately after an armed conflict. The earliest recorded usage of the phrase "prisoner of war" dates back to 1610. Belligerents hold priso ...
in
North Vietnam North Vietnam, officially the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV; vi, Việt Nam Dân chủ Cộng hòa), was a socialist state supported by the Soviet Union (USSR) and the People's Republic of China (PRC) in Southeast Asia that existed f ...
during the
Vietnam War The Vietnam War (also known by #Names, other names) was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vi ...
, has stated unequivocally several times that he considers waterboarding to be torture: Professors such as Wilson R. Huhn have also challenged the legality of waterboarding. In May 2008, author and journalist
Christopher Hitchens Christopher Eric Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011) was a British-American author and journalist who wrote or edited over 30 books (including five essay collections) on culture, politics, and literature. Born and educated in England, ...
voluntarily underwent waterboarding and concluded that it was torture. He also noted that he suffered ongoing psychological effects from the ordeal. On 22 May 2009, radio talk show host Erich "Mancow" Muller subjected himself to waterboarding to prove that it is not torture, but changed his mind because of the experience. On 22 April 2009,
Fox News The Fox News Channel, abbreviated FNC, commonly known as Fox News, and stylized in all caps, is an American multinational conservative cable news television channel based in New York City New York, often cal ...
host
Sean Hannity Sean Patrick Hannity (born December 30, 1961) is an American talk show host, Conservatism in the United States, conservative political commentator, and author. He is the host of ''The Sean Hannity Show'', a radio syndication, nationally syndic ...
, offered to be waterboarded for charity in order to prove that it did not amount to torture, though he did not follow through with it. In an 11 May 2009 interview with
Larry King Larry King (born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger; November 19, 1933 – January 23, 2021) was an American television and radio host, whose awards included 2 Peabody Award, Peabodys, an Emmy and 10 Cable ACE Awards. Over his career, he hosted over 50,000 ...
, former Minnesota Governor
Jesse Ventura Jesse Ventura (born James George Janos; July 15, 1951) is an American politician, actor, and retired professional wrestler. After achieving fame in the WWE, World Wrestling Federation (WWF), he served as the 38th governor of Minnesota from 1999 ...
stated: On 15 January 2009, U.S. President-elect
Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, Obama was the first Af ...
's nominee for
Attorney General In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general or attorney-general (sometimes abbreviated AG or Atty.-Gen) is the main legal advisor to the government. The plural is attorneys general. In some jurisdictions, attorneys general also have exec ...
,
Eric Holder Eric Himpton Holder Jr. (born January 21, 1951) is an American lawyer who served as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States from 2009 to 2015. Holder, serving in the administration Administration may refer to: Management of organizat ...
, told his
Senate A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house An upper house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house.''Bicameralism'' (1997) by George Tseb ...
confirmation hearing that waterboarding is torture and the President cannot authorize it. In a press conference on 30 April, President Obama also stated, "I believe waterboarding was torture, and it was a mistake."


Description by U.S. media

In covering the debate on the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique by the U.S. government, U.S. reporters had to decide whether to use the term "torture" or "enhanced interrogation techniques" to describe waterboarding.
National Public Radio National Public Radio (NPR, stylized in all lowercase) is an American privately and state funded nonprofit media organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., with its NPR West headquarters in Culver City, California. It differs from other n ...
's
ombudsman An ombudsman (, also ,), ombud, ombuds, ombudswoman, ombudsperson or public advocate is an official who is usually appointed by the government or by parliament (usually with a significant degree of independence) to investigate complaints and at ...
detailed this debate and why NPR had decided to refrain from using the word torture to describe waterboarding. Due to criticism of the policy by the media and to NPR directly, a second piece was written to further explain their position and a desire to describe the technique rather than simply describe it as torture.


Historical uses


Spanish Inquisition

A form of torture similar to waterboarding is called ''toca'', and more recently "Spanish water torture", to differentiate it from the better known Chinese water torture, along with ''garrucha'' (or
strappado The strappado, also known as corda, is a form of torture Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering on a person for reasons such as punishment, extracting a confession, interrogational torture, interrogation for in ...
) and the most frequently used ''potro'' (or the rack). This was used infrequently during the trial portion of the Spanish Inquisition process. "The ''toca'', also called ''tortura del agua'', consisted of introducing a cloth into the mouth of the victim, and forcing them to ingest water spilled from a jar so that they had the impression of drowning". William Schweiker claims that the use of water as a form of torture also had profound religious significance to the Inquisitors. In general, waterboarding seemed to be very extended in the Spanish detention centers in the 1500s. Books from the time explain how to treat persons in custody, and used this "light" form of torture. After a specific way of beating, body, legs and arms, it was detailed how to pour 4 cuartillos (approx. 2.5 liters) of water over mouth and nose, with a covering cloth, making sure there was some cloth introduced in the mouth so water could also get in.


Flemish Inquisition

In Joos de Damhouder's ''Praxis rerum criminalium'' (1554), a manual on the practice of criminal law, the chapter on torture and interrogation is illustrated with a woodcut of waterboarding, which it describes in detail. The Martyr's Mirror depicts one incident of waterboarding used against the early Mennonites thus:
And as they did still not obtain anything from me, to the implication of my neighbor, Master Hans took water (during the entire time a cloth had lain on my face), and holding my nose shut with one hand, began to pour water on my abdomen and thence all over my breast, and into my mouth; even as one should drink when he is very thirsty. I think that the can from which he poured out – the water held about three pints. And when I was at the end of my breath, and wanted to fetch such, I drew the water all into my body, whereupon I suffered such distress, that it would be impossible for me to relate or describe it; but the Lord be forever praised: He kept my lips. And when they could still not obtain anything from me, they caused the cord which was on my thigh to be loosed and applied to a fresh place, and wound it much tighter than before, so that I thought he would kill me, and began to shake and tremble greatly. He then proceeded to pour water into me again, so that I think he emptied four such cans, and my body became so full of it, that twice it came out again at the throat. And thus I became so weak. that I fainted; for, when I recovered from my swoon, I found myself alone with Master Hans and Daniel de Keyser. And Master Hans was so busily engaged in loosing all my cords, that it seemed to me that they were concerned over me. But the Lord in a large degree took away my pain every time; whenever it became so severe that I thought it was impossible to bear it, my members became as dead. Eternal praise, thanks, honor, and glory be to the Lord; for when it was over I thought that, by the help of the Lord, I had fought a good fight.


Colonial times

Agents of the
Dutch East India Company The United East India Company ( nl, Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, the VOC) was a chartered company established on the 20th March 1602 by the States General of the Netherlands amalgamating existing companies into the first joint-stock ...
used a precursor to waterboarding during the
Amboyna massacre The Amboyna massacre was the 1623 torture and execution on Ambon Island (present-day Ambon, Maluku, Indonesia) of twenty-one men, including ten of whom were in the service of the English East India Company, and Japanese and Portuguese traders an ...
of English prisoners, which took place on the island of Amboyna in the Molucca Islands in 1623. At that time, it consisted of wrapping cloth around the victim's head, after which the torturers "poured the water softly upon his head until the cloth was full, up to the mouth and nostrils, and somewhat higher, so that he could not draw breath but he must suck in all the water". In one case, the torturer applied water three or four times successively until the victim's "body was swollen twice or thrice as big as before, his cheeks like great bladders, and his eyes staring and strutting out beyond his forehead".


American prisons before World War I

An editorial in ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''the Times'', ''NYT'', or the Gray Lady) is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2020 to comprise a declining 840,000 paid print subscribers, and a growing 6 million paid d ...
'' of 6 April 1852, and a subsequent 21 April 1852 letter to the editors documents an incidence of waterboarding, then called "showering" or "hydropathic torture", in New York's
Sing Sing Sing Sing Correctional Facility, formerly Ossining Correctional Facility, is a maximum-security prison operated by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision The New York State Department of Corrections and Communi ...
prison of an inmate named Henry Hagan, who, after several other forms of beating and mistreatment, had his head shaved, and "certainly three, and possibly a dozen, barrels of water were poured upon his naked scalp". Hagan was then placed in a yoke. A correspondent listed only as "H" later wrote: "Perhaps it would be well to state more fully the true character of this 'hydropathic torture.' The stream of water is about one inch in diameter, and falls from a of seven or eight feet. The head of the patient is retained in its place by means of a board clasping the neck; the effect of which is, that the water, striking upon the board, rebounds into the mouth and nostrils of the victim, almost producing strangulation. Congestion, sometimes of the heart or lungs, sometimes of the brain, not ensues; and death, in due season, has released some sufferers from the further ordeal of the water cure. As the water is administered officially, I suppose that it is not murder!" H. then went on to cite an 1847 New York law which limited prison discipline to individual confinement "upon a short allowance." Prisoners in late 19th-century Alabama, and in Mississippi in the first third of the 20th century, also suffered waterboarding. In Alabama, in lieu of or in addition to other physical punishment, a "prisoner was strapped down on his back; then 'water aspoured in his face on the upper lip, and effectually stop edhis breathing as long as there asa constant stream'." In Mississippi, the accused was held down, and water was poured "from a dipper into the nose so as to strangle him, thus causing pain and horror, for the purpose of forcing a confession."


During the Philippine–American War

The U.S. army used waterboarding, called the " water cure", during the
Philippine–American War The Philippine–American War or Filipino–American War ( es, Guerra filipina-estadounidense, tl, Digmaang Pilipino–Amerikano), previously referred to as the Philippine Insurrection or the Tagalog Insurgency by the United States, was an arm ...
. It is not clear where this practice came from; it probably was adopted from the Filipinos, who themselves adopted it from the Spanish.. Reports of "cruelties" from soldiers stationed in the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...
led to Senate hearings on U.S. activity there. Testimony described the waterboarding of Tobeniano Ealdama "while supervised by ...Captain/Major Edwin F. Glenn".
Elihu Root Elihu Root (; February 15, 1845February 7, 1937) was an American lawyer, Republican Party (United States), Republican politician, and statesman who served as United States Secretary of State, Secretary of State and United States Secretary of W ...
,
United States Secretary of War The secretary of war was a member of the President of the United States, U.S. president's United States Cabinet, Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's Presidency of George Washington, administration. A similar position, called either "Se ...
, ordered a
court martial A court-martial or court martial (plural ''courts-martial'' or ''courts martial'', as "martial" is a postpositive adjective A postpositive adjective or postnominal adjective is an adjective that is placed after the noun or pronoun that it mo ...
for Glenn in April 1902." During the trial, Glenn "maintained that the torture of Ealdama was 'a legitimate exercise of force under the laws of war.'" Though some reports seem to confuse Ealdama with Glenn, Glenn was found guilty and "sentenced to a one-month suspension and a fifty-dollar fine", the leniency of the sentence due to the "circumstances" presented at the trial. President
Theodore Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt Jr. ( ; October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919), often referred to as Teddy or by his initials, T. R., was an American politician, statesman, soldier, conservationist, naturalist, historian, and writer who served as the 26t ...
privately rationalized the instances of "mild torture, the water cure" but publicly called for efforts to "prevent the occurrence of all such acts in the future". In that effort, he ordered the court-martial of General Jacob H. Smith on the island of
Samar Samar ( ) is the third-largest and seventh-most populous island in the Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan ...
, "where some of the worst abuses had occurred". When the court-martial found only that he had acted with excessive zeal, Roosevelt disregarded the verdict and had the General dismissed from the Army. Roosevelt soon declared victory in the Philippines, and the public lost interest in "what had, only months earlier, been alarming revelations".


By U.S. police before the 1940s

The use of " third degree interrogation" techniques to compel confession, ranging from "psychological duress such as prolonged confinement to extreme violence and torture", was widespread in early American policing. Lassiter classified the water cure as "orchestrated physical abuse", and described the police technique as a "modern day variation of the method of water torture that was popular during the Middle Ages". The technique employed by the police involved either holding the head in water until almost drowning, or laying on the back and forcing water into the mouth or nostrils. Such techniques were classified as "'covert' third degree torture" since they left no signs of physical abuse, and became popular after 1910 when the direct application of physical violence to force a confession became a media issue and some courts began to deny obviously compelled confessions. The publication of this information in 1931 as part of the Wickersham Commission's "Report on Lawlessness in Law Enforcement" led to a decline in the use of third degree police interrogation techniques in the 1930s and 1940s.


World War II

During
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, both Japanese military personnel, especially the
Kempeitai The , also known as Kempeitai, was the military police arm of the Imperial Japanese Army from 1881 to 1945 that also served as a secret police force. In addition, in List of territories occupied by Imperial Japan, Japanese-occupied territories, ...
, and the officers of the
Gestapo The (), Syllabic abbreviation, abbreviated Gestapo (; ), was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and in German-occupied Europe. The force was created by Hermann Göring in 1933 by combining the various political police agencies of F ...
, the German secret police, used waterboarding as a method of torture. During the
Japanese occupation of Singapore , officially , was the name for Colony of Singapore, Singapore when it was occupied and ruled by the Empire of Japan, following the fall and surrender of British military forces on 15 February 1942 during World War II. Japanese military for ...
, the Double Tenth Incident occurred. This included waterboarding, by the method of binding or holding down the victim on his back, placing a cloth over his mouth and nose, and pouring water onto the cloth. In this version, interrogation continued during the torture, with the interrogators beating the victim if he did not reply and the victim swallowing water if he opened his mouth to answer or breathe. When the victim could ingest no more water, the interrogators would beat or jump on his distended stomach. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the U.S. airmen who flew in the
Doolittle raid The Doolittle Raid, also known as the Tokyo Raid, was an air raid on 18 April 1942 by the United States on the Japanese capital Tokyo City, Tokyo and other places on Honshu during World War II. It was the first American air operation to stri ...
following the
attack on Pearl Harbor The attack on Pearl HarborAlso known as the Battle of Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service upon the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as t ...
, was subjected to waterboarding by his Japanese captors. At their trial for war crimes following the war, he testified "Well, I was put on my back on the floor with my arms and legs stretched out, one guard holding each limb. The towel was wrapped around my face and put across my face and water poured on. They poured water on this towel until I was almost unconscious from strangulation, then they would let up until I'd get my breath, then they'd start over again... I felt more or less like I was drowning, just gasping between life and death." In 2007, Senator John McCain said that the United States military hanged Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American prisoners of war during World War II. A minimal sentence for Japanese soldiers convicted of waterboarding American soldiers was 15 years.


By the French in the Algerian War

The technique was also used during the
Algerian War The Algerian War, also known as the Algerian Revolution or the Algerian War of Independence,( ar, الثورة الجزائرية '; '' ber, Tagrawla Tadzayrit''; french: Guerre d'Algérie or ') and sometimes in Algeria as the War of 1 November ...
(1954–1962). French journalist Henri Alleg, who was subjected to waterboarding by French
paratrooper A paratrooper is a military parachutist—someone trained to parachuting, parachute into a military operation, and usually functioning as part of an airborne forces, airborne force. Military parachutists (troops) and parachutes were first used ...
s in Algeria in 1957, is one of only a few people to have described in writing the first-hand experience of being waterboarded. His book '' La Question'', published in 1958 with a preface by
Jean-Paul Sartre Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (, ; ; 21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialist, existentialism (and Phenomenology (philosophy), phenomenology), a French playwright, novelist, screenwriter ...
subsequently banned in France until the end of the Algerian War in 1962, discusses the experience of being strapped to a plank, having his head wrapped in cloth and positioned beneath a running tap: Alleg stated that he did not break under his ordeal of being waterboarded. He also stated that the incidence of "accidental" death of prisoners being subjected to waterboarding in Algeria was "very frequent".


Vietnam War

Waterboarding was designated as illegal by U.S. generals in the
Vietnam War The Vietnam War (also known by #Names, other names) was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vi ...
. On 21 January 1968, ''
The Washington Post ''The Washington Post'' (also known as the ''Post'' and, informally, ''WaPo'') is an American daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C. It is the most widely circulated newspaper within the Washington metropolitan area and has a large nati ...
'' published a controversial front-page photograph of two U.S soldiers and one South Vietnamese soldier participating in the waterboarding of a
North Vietnam North Vietnam, officially the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV; vi, Việt Nam Dân chủ Cộng hòa), was a socialist state supported by the Soviet Union (USSR) and the People's Republic of China (PRC) in Southeast Asia that existed f ...
ese
POW A prisoner of war (POW) is a person who is held Captivity, captive by a belligerent power during or immediately after an armed conflict. The earliest recorded usage of the phrase "prisoner of war" dates back to 1610. Belligerents hold priso ...
near
Da Nang Da Nang or DanangSee also Danang Dragons ( ; vi, Đà Nẵng, ) is a municipalities of Vietnam, class-1 municipality and the list of cities in Vietnam, fifth-largest city in Vietnam by municipal population. It lies on the coast of the East Sea ...
. The article described the practice as "fairly common". The photograph led to the soldier being court-martialled by a U.S. military court within one month of its publication, and he was discharged from the army. Another waterboarding photograph of the same scene, referred to as "water torture" in the caption, is also exhibited in the
War Remnants Museum The War Remnants Museum ( vi, Bảo tàng chứng tích chiến tranh) is a war museum at 28 Vo Van Tan, in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City Ho Chi Minh City ( vi, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh; Vietnamese dialects, Northern , Southern Vietnamese, Sout ...
in
Ho Chi Minh City Ho Chi Minh City ( vi, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh; Vietnamese dialects, Northern , Southern Vietnamese, Southern ), formerly (and still commonly) known as Saigon ( vi, ; Vietnamese dialects, Northern , Southern Vietnamese, Southern ), is the larg ...
. After reports by Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Herbert, investigators confirmed that military interrogators of the 173rd Airborne Brigade "repeatedly beat prisoners, tortured them with electric shocks and forced water down their throats". Interrogators employed a technique called the "water rag", which involved pouring water onto a rag covering the captive's nose and mouth.


Chile

Based on the testimonies from more than 35,000 victims of the
Pinochet regime Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte (, , , ; 25 November 1915 – 10 December 2006) was a Chilean Captain general#Chile, general who ruled Military dictatorship of Chile (1973–1990), Chile from 1973 to 1990, first as the leader of the Gover ...
, the Chilean Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture concluded that provoking a
near-death experience A near-death experience (NDE) is a profound personal experience associated with death or impending death which researchers claim share similar characteristics. When positive, such experiences may encompass a variety of sensations including detac ...
by waterboarding is torture.


Khmer Rouge

The
Khmer Rouge The Khmer Rouge (; ; km, ខ្មែរក្រហម, ; ) is the name that was popularly given to members of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) and by extension to the Democratic Kampuchea, regime through which the CPK ruled Cambodia ...
at the Tuol Sleng prison in
Phnom Penh Phnom Penh (; km, ភ្នំពេញ, ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities and towns in Cambodia, most populous city of Cambodia. It has been the national capital since the French protectorate of Cambodia and has grown to become ...
,
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, Romanization of Khmer#UNGEGN, UNGEGN: ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese Peninsula in Southeast Asia, spanning an ar ...
, used waterboarding as a method of torture between 1975 and 1979. The practice was perfected by Duch's lieutenants Mam Nai and
Tang Sin Hean Tang or TANG most often refers to: * Tang dynasty * Tang (drink mix) Tang or TANG may also refer to: Chinese states and dynasties * Jin (Chinese state) (11th century – 376 BC), a state during the Spring and Autumn period, called Tang (唐) b ...
and documented in a painting by former inmate Vann Nath, which is on display in the
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum ( km, សារមន្ទីរឧក្រិដ្ឋកម្មប្រល័យពូជសាសន៍ទួលស្លែង) or simply Tuol Sleng ( km, ទួលស្លែង, link=no, ; lit. "Hill of ...
. The museum also has on display boards and other actual tools used for waterboarding during the Khmer Rouge regime.


Northern Ireland

During
the Troubles The Troubles ( ga, Na Trioblóidí) were an ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland that lasted about 30 years from the late 1960s to 1998. Also known internationally as the Northern Ireland conflict, it is sometimes described as an "i ...
, an ethno-nationalist conflict in
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots, Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, that is #Descriptions, variously described as ...
, there were instances of British security forces, including the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western ...
and the
Royal Ulster Constabulary The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was the police force in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 2001. It was founded on 1 June 1922 as a successor to the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC)Richard Doherty, ''The Thin Green Line – The History of the Royal ...
(RUC) waterboarding suspected
Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary organisations in Ireland throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Organisations by this name have been dedicated to irredentism through Irish republicanism, the belief that ...
(IRA) members. Former RUC interrogators who were active during the Troubles claimed that waterboarding, among other forms of torture, were systematically used against suspected IRA members in police custody. In October 1972, Liam Holden was arrested by members of the Parachute Regiment on the suspicion of being an IRA sniper who had killed a British paratrooper, Frank Bell. He was convicted the next year of the crime and sentenced to be executed, largely on the basis of an unsigned confession produced by a range of torture techniques, including waterboarding. Holden's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and he spent 17 years in prison. On 21 June 2012, in the light of CCRC investigations which confirmed that the methods used to extract a confession from Holden were unlawful, he had his conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal in
Belfast Belfast ( , ; from ga, Béal Feirste , meaning 'mouth of the sand-bank ford') is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast. It is the 12th-largest city in the United Kingdom ...
and was cleared of murder.


Apartheid in the Union of South Africa

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission received testimony from Charles Zeelie and Jeffrey Benzien, officers of the South African Police under
Apartheid Apartheid (, especially South African English: , ; , "aparthood") was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the So ...
, that they used waterboarding, referred to as "tubing", or the "wet bag technique" on political prisoners as part of a wide range of torture methods to extract information. Specifically, a cloth bag was wet and placed over victim's heads, to be removed only when they were near asphyxiation; the procedure was repeated several times. The TRC concluded that the act constituted torture and a gross human rights violation, for which the state was responsible.


U.S. military survival training

Until 2007, all special operations units in all branches of the U.S. military and the CIA's
Special Activities Division The Special Activities Center (SAC) is a division of the United States Central Intelligence Agency responsible for covert operation, covert and paramilitary operations. The unit was named Special Activities Division (SAD) prior to 2015. Within S ...
employed the use of waterboarding as part of survival school (
Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) is a training program, best known by its military acronym, that prepares United States Armed Forces, U.S. military personnel, United States Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense ci ...
) training, to psychologically prepare soldiers for the possibility of being captured by enemy forces. By 2002, many branches of the military had backed away from waterboarding trainees, at least in part "because it hurt morale", and in November 2007 the practice was banned by the Department of Defense because it "provided no instructional or training benefit to the student". John Yoo, former deputy assistant attorney general under President Bush stated that the United States has subjected 20,000 of its troops to waterboarding as part of SERE training prior to deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Jerald Ogrisseg, former head of Psychological Services for the Air Force SERE School has stated in testimony before the U.S. Senate's Committee on Armed Services that there are fundamental differences between SERE training and what occurs in real-world settings. Dr. Ogrisseg further states that his experience is limited to SERE training, but that he did not believe waterboarding to be productive in either setting. Jane Mayer wrote for
The New Yorker ''The New Yorker'' is an American weekly magazine featuring journalism, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons, and poetry. Founded as a weekly in 1925, the magazine is published 47 times annually, with five of these issues ...
: and continues to report: However, according to a declassified Justice Department memo attempting to justify torture which references a still-classified report of the CIA Inspector General on the CIA's use of waterboarding, among other "enhanced" interrogation techniques, the CIA applied waterboarding to detainees "in a different manner" than the technique used in SERE training:
The difference was in the manner in which the detainees' breathing was obstructed. At the SERE school and in the DoJ opinion, the subject's airflow is disrupted by the firm application of a damp cloth over the air passages; the interrogator applies a small amount of water to the cloth in a controlled manner. By contrast, the Agency interrogator ... applied large volumes of water to a cloth that covered the detainee's mouth and nose. One of the psychiatrist / interrogators acknowledged that the Agency's use of the technique is different from that used in SERE training because it is 'for real' and is more poignant and convincing.Worthington, Andy (1 July 2009
"Release of the "Holy Grail" of Torture Reports Delayed Again".
''Huffington Post''. Retrieved 2 July 2009.
According to the DOJ memo, the IG Report observed that the CIA's Office of Medical Services (OMS) stated that "the experience of the SERE psychologist / interrogators on the waterboard was probably misrepresented at the time, as the SERE waterboard experience is so different from the subsequent Agency usage as to make it almost irrelevant" and that " nsequently, according to OMS, there was no a priori reason to believe that applying the waterboard with the frequency and intensity with which it was used by the psychologist/interrogators was either efficacious or medically safe."


Contemporary use


United States


Use by law enforcement

In 1983, San Jacinto County, Texas sheriff, James Parker, and three of his deputies were convicted for conspiring to force confessions. The complaint said they "subject prisoners to a suffocating water torture ordeal to coerce confessions. This generally included the placement of a towel over the nose and mouth of the prisoner and the pouring of water into the towel until the prisoner began to move, jerk (twitch), or otherwise indicate suffocation and/or drowning". James Parker was sentenced to ten years in prison, and the deputies to four years.


Use by intelligence officers

The 21 June 2004 issue of ''
Newsweek ''Newsweek'' is an American weekly online news magazine co-owned 50 percent each by Dev Pragad, its president and CEO, and Johnathan Davis (businessman), Johnathan Davis, who has no operational role at ''Newsweek''. Founded as a weekly print m ...
'' stated that the Bybee Memo, an early August 2002 legal memorandum drafted by
John Yoo John Choon Yoo (; born July 10, 1967) is a Korean-born American legal scholar and former government official who serves as the Emanuel S. Heller Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley The University of California, Berke ...
and signed by his boss, Jay S. Bybee, then head of the
Office of Legal Counsel The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) is an office in the United States Department of Justice The United States Department of Justice (DOJ), also known as the Justice Department, is a United States federal executive departments, federal executi ...
, described interrogation tactics against suspected terrorists or terrorist affiliates the George W. Bush administration would consider legal, was "prompted by CIA questions about what to do with a top Qaeda captive,
Abu Zubaydah Abu Zubaydah ( ; , ''Abū Zubaydah''; born March 12, 1971, as Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn) is a Saudi Arabian currently held by the U.S. in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. He is held under the authority of Authorization for Use o ...
, who had turned uncooperative... and was drafted after White House meetings convened by George W. Bush's chief counsel,
Alberto Gonzales Alberto R. Gonzales (born August 4, 1955) is an American lawyer who served as the 80th United States Attorney General The United States attorney general (AG) is the head of the United States Department of Justice, and is the chief law enforc ...
, along with Defense Department general counsel William Haynes and David Addington, Vice President
Dick Cheney Richard Bruce Cheney ( ; born January 30, 1941) is an American politician and businessman who served as the 46th vice president of the United States from 2001 to 2009 under President George W. Bush. He is currently the oldest living former U ...
's counsel, who discussed specific interrogation techniques", citing "a source familiar with the discussions". Amongst the methods they found acceptable was waterboarding.
Jack Goldsmith Jack Landman Goldsmith III (born September 26, 1962) is an American legal scholar. He is a professor at Harvard Law School who has written extensively in the fields of international law, civil procedure, federal courts, conflict of laws, and nat ...
, head of the Office of Legal Counsel (October 2003-June 2004) in the Department of Justice, later said this group was known as "the war council". In November 2005,
ABC News ABC News is the journalism, news division of the American broadcast network American Broadcasting Company, ABC. Its flagship program is the daily evening newscast ''ABC World News Tonight, ABC World News Tonight with David Muir''; other progra ...
reported that former CIA agents claimed that the CIA engaged in a modern form of waterboarding, along with five other "
enhanced interrogation techniques "Enhanced interrogation techniques" or "enhanced interrogation" is a euphemism for the program of systematic torture of detainees by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and various components of the U.S. Ar ...
", against suspected members of
al Qaeda Al-Qaeda (; , ) is an Islamic extremism, Islamic extremist organization composed of Salafist jihadists. Its members are mostly composed of Arab, Arabs, but also include other peoples. Al-Qaeda has mounted attacks on civilian and military ta ...
. On 20 July 2007, U.S. President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13440, banning torture during interrogation of terror suspects. While the guidelines for interrogation do not specifically ban waterboarding, the
executive order In the United States, an executive order is a presidential directive, directive by the president of the United States that manages operations of the Federal government of the United States, federal government. The legal or constitutional ba ...
refers to torture as defined by 18 USC 2340, which includes "the threat of imminent death", as well as the U.S. Constitution's ban on
cruel and unusual punishment Cruel and unusual punishment is a phrase in common law describing punishment that is considered unacceptable due to the suffering, pain, or humiliation it inflicts on the person subjected to the sanction. The precise definition varies by jurisdic ...
. Reaction to the order was mixed, with the CIA satisfied that it "clearly defined" the agency's authorities.
Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international non-governmental organization, headquartered in New York City, that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. The group pressures governments, policy makers, companies, and individual human ri ...
said that answers about what specific techniques had been banned lay in the classified companion document and that "the people in charge of interpreting
hat A hat is a head covering which is worn for various reasons, including protection against weather conditions, ceremonial reasons such as university graduation, religious reasons, safety, or as a fashion accessory. Hats which incorporate mech ...
document don't have a particularly good track record of reasonable legal analysis". On 14 September 2007, ABC News reported that sometime in 2006, CIA Director Michael Hayden asked for and received permission from the Bush administration to ban the use of waterboarding in CIA interrogations. A CIA spokesperson declined to discuss interrogation techniques, stating the techniques "have been and continue to be lawful". ABC reported that waterboarding had been authorized by a 2002 Presidential finding. On 5 November 2007, ''
The Wall Street Journal ''The Wall Street Journal'' is an American business-focused, international daily newspaper based in New York City, with international editions also available in Chinese and Japanese. The ''Journal'', along with its The Wall Street Journal Asia, ...
'' reported that its "sources confirm... that the CIA has only used this interrogation method against three terrorist detainees and not since 2003." John Kiriakou, a former
CIA The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA ), known informally as the Agency and historically as the Company, is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States The federal government of the United ...
officer, is the first official within the U.S. government to openly admit to the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique, as of 10 December 2007. On 6 February 2008, CIA director General Michael Hayden stated that the CIA had waterboarded three prisoners during 2002 and 2003, namely
Abu Zubaydah Abu Zubaydah ( ; , ''Abū Zubaydah''; born March 12, 1971, as Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn) is a Saudi Arabian currently held by the U.S. in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. He is held under the authority of Authorization for Use o ...
,
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (sometimes also spelled Shaikh; also known by at least 50 pseudonyms; born March 1, 1964 or April 14, 1965) is a Pakistani Islamist militant held by the United States at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp under terrorism-re ...
, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. On 23 February 2008, the Justice Department revealed that its internal ethics office was investigating the department's legal approval for waterboarding of al Qaeda suspects by the CIA and was likely to make public an unclassified version of its report. On 15 October 2008, it was reported that the Bush administration had issued a pair of secret memos to the CIA in June 2003 and June 2004 explicitly endorsing waterboarding and other torture techniques against al-Qaeda suspects. The memos were granted only after "repeated requests" from the CIA, who at the time were worried that the White House would eventually try to distance themselves from the issue. Field employees in the agency believed they could easily be blamed for using the techniques without proper written permission or authority. Until this point, the Bush administration had never been concretely tied to acknowledging the torture practices. In December 2008,
Robert Mueller Robert Swan Mueller III (; born August 7, 1944) is an American lawyer and government official who served as the sixth director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is the head of the ...
, the Director of the FBI since 5 July 2001, had said that despite Bush Administration claims that waterboarding has "disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks", he does not believe that evidence obtained by the U.S. government through
enhanced interrogation techniques "Enhanced interrogation techniques" or "enhanced interrogation" is a euphemism for the program of systematic torture of detainees by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and various components of the U.S. Ar ...
such as waterboarding disrupted one attack. In an interview in January 2009,
Dick Cheney Richard Bruce Cheney ( ; born January 30, 1941) is an American politician and businessman who served as the 46th vice president of the United States from 2001 to 2009 under President George W. Bush. He is currently the oldest living former U ...
acknowledged the use of waterboarding to interrogate suspects and said that waterboarding had been "used with great discrimination by people who know what they're doing and has produced a lot of valuable information and intelligence". On 1 July 2009, the Obama administration announced that it was delaying the scheduled release of declassified portions of a report by the CIA Inspector General in response to a civil lawsuit. The CIA report reportedly cast doubt on the effectiveness of the torture used by CIA interrogators during the Bush administration. This was based on several George W. Bush-era Justice Department memos declassified in the Spring of 2009 by the U.S. Justice Department.


=Abu Zubaydah

= Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded by the CIA. In 2002, U.S. intelligence located Abu Zubaydah by tracing his phone calls. He was captured 28 March 2002, in a safehouse located in a two-story apartment in
Faisalabad Faisalabad (; Punjabi/ ur, , ; ), formerly known as Lyallpur ( Punjabi, Urdu: لائل پور), named after the founder of the city, but was renamed in 1977 in honour of late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. It is the 3rd largest city of Pa ...
, Pakistan. One of Abu Zubaydah's FBI interrogators, Ali Soufan, wrote a book about his experiences. He later testified to Congress that Zubaydah was producing useful information in response to conventional interrogation methods, including the names of Sheikh Mohammed and Jose Padilla. He stopped providing accurate information in response to harsh techniques.Ghosh, Bobby (24 April 2009)
"A Top Interrogator Who's Against Torture"
''Time''. Retrieved 15 June 2009
Soufan, one of the FBI's most successful interrogators, explained, "When they are in pain, people will say anything to get the pain to stop. Most of the time, they will lie, make up anything to make you stop hurting them. That means the information you're getting is useless." Participating in his later interrogation by the CIA were two American psychologists, James Elmer Mitchell and R. Scott Shumate. In December 2007, ''
The Washington Post ''The Washington Post'' (also known as the ''Post'' and, informally, ''WaPo'') is an American daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C. It is the most widely circulated newspaper within the Washington metropolitan area and has a large nati ...
'' reported that there were some discrepancies regarding reports about the number of times Zubaydah was waterboarded. According to a previous account by former CIA officer John Kiriakou, Abu Zubaydah broke after just 35 seconds of waterboarding, which involved stretching cellophane over his mouth and nose and pouring water on his face to create the sensation of drowning. Kiriakou later admitted that he had no first hand knowledge of the interrogation and accused the CIA of using him to spread disinformation. Former CIA operative John Kiriakou in 2007 told CNN's "American Morning" that the waterboarding of
Al Qaeda Al-Qaeda (; , ) is an Islamic extremism, Islamic extremist organization composed of Salafist jihadists. Its members are mostly composed of Arab, Arabs, but also include other peoples. Al-Qaeda has mounted attacks on civilian and military ta ...
's
Abu Zubaydah Abu Zubaydah ( ; , ''Abū Zubaydah''; born March 12, 1971, as Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn) is a Saudi Arabian currently held by the U.S. in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. He is held under the authority of Authorization for Use o ...
indirectly led to the arrest of
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (sometimes also spelled Shaikh; also known by at least 50 pseudonyms; born March 1, 1964 or April 14, 1965) is a Pakistani Islamist militant held by the United States at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp under terrorism-re ...
: :The former agent, who said he participated in the Abu Zubayda interrogation but not his waterboarding, said the CIA decided to waterboard the al Qaeda operative only after he was "wholly uncooperative" for weeks and refused to answer questions. :All that changed – and Zubayda reportedly had a divine revelation – after 30 to 35 seconds of waterboarding, Kiriakou said he learned from the CIA agents who performed the technique. :The terror suspect, who is being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reportedly gave up information that indirectly led to 2003 raid in Pakistan yielding the arrest of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, an alleged planner of the 11 September 2001, attacks, Kiriakou said. :The CIA was unaware of Mohammed's stature before the Abu Zubayda interrogation, the former agent said.


=Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

=
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (sometimes also spelled Shaikh; also known by at least 50 pseudonyms; born March 1, 1964 or April 14, 1965) is a Pakistani Islamist militant held by the United States at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp under terrorism-re ...
was waterboarded 183 times while being interrogated by the CIA. Pakistani intelligence agents say Mohammed was carrying a letter from bin Laden at the time of his arrest, but there is no evidence he knew bin Laden's whereabouts. By this point, any information Mohammed had would have been years out of date. After being subjected to repeated waterboarding, Mohammed claimed participation in thirty-one terrorist plots. On 15 June 2009, in response to a lawsuit by the
ACLU The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1920 "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the United States Constitution, Constitution and L ...
, the government was forced to disclose a previously classified portion of a CIA memo written in 2006. It recounted Mohammed's telling the CIA that he "made up stories" to stop from being tortured. Legal experts cast serious doubt as to the validity of Mohammed's "confessions" as being false claims, and human rights activists raised serious concerns over the "sham process" of justice and use of torture. During a radio interview on 24 October 2006, with Scott Hennen of radio station WDAY, Vice President
Dick Cheney Richard Bruce Cheney ( ; born January 30, 1941) is an American politician and businessman who served as the 46th vice president of the United States from 2001 to 2009 under President George W. Bush. He is currently the oldest living former U ...
agreed with the use of waterboarding. The administration later denied that Cheney had confirmed the use of waterboarding, saying that U.S. officials do not talk publicly about interrogation techniques because they are classified. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow claimed that Cheney was not referring to waterboarding, despite repeated questions refused to specify what else Cheney was referring to by a "dunk in the water", and refused to confirm that this meant waterboarding. On 13 September 2007, ABC News reported that a former intelligence officer stated that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been waterboarded in the presence of a female CIA supervisor. On 2 June 2010, while speaking to the Economic Club of
Grand Rapids Grand Rapids is a city and county seat of Kent County, Michigan, Kent County in the U.S. state of Michigan. At the 2020 United States census, 2020 census, the city had a population of 198,917 which ranks it as the List of municipalities in Mi ...
,
Michigan Michigan () is a U.S. state, state in the Great Lakes region, Great Lakes region of the Upper Midwest, upper Midwestern United States. With a population of nearly 10.12 million and an area of nearly , Michigan is the List of U.S. states and ...
, former President Bush publicly confirmed his knowledge and approval of waterboarding Mohammed, saying "Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed...I'd do it again to save lives."


Obama administration

President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) *President (education), a leader of a college or university *President (government title) President may also refer to: Automobiles * Nissan President, a 1966–2010 Japanese ful ...
Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, Obama was the first Af ...
banned the use of waterboarding and several other interrogation methods in January 2009. He reported that U.S. personnel must stick to the Army Field Manual guidelines. In early April 2009, the
Obama administration Barack Obama's tenure as the List of presidents of the United States, 44th president of the United States began with First inauguration of Barack Obama, his first inauguration on January 20, 2009, and ended on January 20, 2017. A Democratic Pa ...
released several classified
Justice Department A justice ministry, ministry of justice, or department of justice is a Ministry (government department), ministry or other government agency in charge of the administration of justice. The ministry or department is often headed by a minister of ju ...
memos from the George W. Bush administration that discussed waterboarding. Obama opposed prosecuting CIA personnel who committed waterboarding while relying on legal advice provided by their superiors. The
American Civil Liberties Union The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1920 "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the United States Constitution, Constitution and L ...
has criticized his stance. In early April 2009, news reports stated that Obama would support an independent investigation over the issue as long as it would be bipartisan. On 23 April 2009, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stated that the administration had changed its position and no longer supported such an idea. The topic was the subject of heated internal debate within the White House. National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair has stated that "high value information" came from waterboarding certain prisoners during the George W. Bush administration. He also commented that he could not know for sure whether or not other interrogation methods would have caused them to talk, had they been tried. In an administration memo that was publicly released, he wrote, "I do not fault those who made the decisions at that time, and I will absolutely defend those who carried out the interrogations within the orders they were given." An April poll by
Rasmussen Reports Rasmussen Reports is an American polling company founded in 2003. The company engages in political commentary and the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion polling information. Rasmussen Reports conducts nightly tracking, ...
found that 77 percent of voters had followed the story in the media and that 58 percent believed that releasing the memos compromised American national security. On the issue of a further investigation, 58 percent disagreed while 28% agreed. Obama detailed his view on waterboarding and torture in a press conference on 29 April 2009. In May 2011, Obama authorized a successful commando raid to kill Osama Bin Laden. The extent to which waterboarding assisted in ascertaining the whereabouts of Bin Laden is a matter of dispute. Former Attorney General
Michael Mukasey Michael Bernard Mukasey (; born July 28, 1941) is an American attorney and former federal judge who served as the 81st Attorney General of the United States The United States attorney general (AG) is the head of the United States Department of ...
criticized the Obama administration for denying future missions the intelligence capability that made the raid possible: "Acknowledging and meeting the need for an effective and lawful interrogation program, which we once had, and freeing CIA operatives and others to administer it under congressional oversight, would be a fitting way to mark the demise of Osama bin Laden." CIA Director
Leon Panetta Leon Edward Panetta (born June 28, 1938) is an American Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party politician who has served in several different public office positions, including Secretary of Defense of the United States, Secretary of D ...
, who supervised the operation that found and killed bin Laden, stated in an interview with NBC reporter
Brian Williams Brian Douglas Williams (born May 5, 1959) is an American retired journalist and television news anchor. He was a reporter for ''NBC Nightly News ''NBC Nightly News'' (titled as ''NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt'' for its weeknight broadc ...
: "...they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of these detainees. But I'm also saying, that the debate about whether we would have gotten the same information through other approaches, I think, is always going to be an open question." Republican Senator
John McCain John Sidney McCain III (August 29, 1936 – August 25, 2018) was an American politician and United States Navy officer who served as a United States senator from Arizona from 1987 until his death in 2018. He previously served two terms ...
, in a ''
Washington Post ''The Washington Post'' (also known as the ''Post'' and, informally, ''WaPo'') is an American daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C. It is the most widely circulated newspaper within the Washington metropolitan area and has a large nati ...
'' opinion piece, disputed Mukasey's account, saying: In December 2014, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued a declassified 500-page summary of its still-classified 6,700 page report on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Detention and Interrogation Program. The report concluded that "the CIA's use of
Enhanced Interrogation Techniques "Enhanced interrogation techniques" or "enhanced interrogation" is a euphemism for the program of systematic torture of detainees by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and various components of the U.S. Ar ...
(EIT) was not effective for acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees." According to the report, the CIA had presented no credible proof that information obtained through waterboarding or the other harsh interrogation methods that the CIA employed prevented any attacks or saved any lives. There was no evidence that information obtained from the detainees through EIT was not or could not have been obtained through conventional interrogation methods. The Committee examined in detail the specific question of whether torture had elicited information helpful in locating Osama Bin Laden, concluded that it had not, and further concluded that the CIA deliberately misled political leaders and the public in claiming otherwise. U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced on 30 August 2012 that no one would be prosecuted for the deaths of a prisoner in Afghanistan in 2002 and another in Iraq in 2003, eliminating the last possibility that any criminal charges will be brought as a result of the interrogations carried out by the CIA. The Justice Department closed its investigation of the CIA's use of severe interrogation methods, because investigators said they could not prove any agents crossed the lines authorized by the Bush administration in the "war on terror" program of detention and rendition. According to ''the New York Times'' the closing of the two cases means that the Obama administration's limited effort to scrutinize the counterterrorism programs, such as waterboarding, carried out under President George W. Bush has come to an end.


Before and during the 2016 presidential election

In 2015, various Republican presidential candidates indicated their willingness to bring back waterboarding as an interrogation technique.
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician, media personality, and businessman who served as the 45th president of the United States from 2017 to 2021. Trump graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pe ...
(the eventual winner of the
election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold Public administration, public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative ...
) stated he believed in the effectiveness of the technique. Trump also stated that it is a "minimal" form of torture, and that it was necessary.
Ben Carson Benjamin Solomon Carson Sr. (born September 18, 1951) is an American retired neurosurgery, neurosurgeon and politician who served as the 17th United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2017 to 2021. A pioneer in the field of ne ...
had not ruled out approving its use, nor did
Jeb Bush John Ellis "Jeb" Bush (born February 11, 1953) is an American politician and businessman who served as the 43rd governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007. Bush, who grew up in Houston, was the second son of former President George H. W. Bush a ...
.
Carly Fiorina Cara Carleton "Carly" Fiorina (''Given name, née'' Sneed; born September 6, 1954) is an American businesswoman and politician, known primarily for her tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HP). As chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard, HP fro ...
endorsed its use, as did
Rick Perry James Richard Perry (born March 4, 1950) is an American politician who served as the 14th United States Secretary of Energy, United States secretary of energy from 2017 to 2019 and as the List of governors of Texas, 47th governor of Texas from ...
and
Rick Santorum Richard John Santorum ( ; born May 10, 1958) is an American politician, attorney, and political commentator. A member of the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party, he served as a United States Senate, United States Senator from Pe ...
. In June 2015, in response to a critical assessment of China in the U.S. State Department's annual human rights report, China noted that the U.S., among other alleged human rights abuses, had engaged in torture of terrorism suspects by waterboarding.


Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

In October 2014,
John Cantlie John Henry Cantlie (born 7 November 1970) was a British war photographer and correspondent. He was kidnapped in Syria with James Foley (journalist), James Foley in November 2012. He had previously been kidnapped in Syria alongside Dutch photogr ...
reported that
ISIS Isis (; ''Ēse''; ; Meroitic language, Meroitic: ''Wos'' 'a''or ''Wusa''; Phoenician language, Phoenician: 𐤀𐤎, romanized: ʾs) was a major ancient Egyptian deities, goddess in ancient Egyptian religion whose worship spread throughou ...
had waterboarded prisoners, "Some of us who tried to escape were waterboarded by our captors, as Muslim prisoners are waterboarded by their American captors."


China

Waterboarding is reported to be among the forms of torture used as part of the indoctrination process at the
Xinjiang re-education camps The Xinjiang internment camps, officially called vocational education and training centers ( zh, 职业技能教育培训中心, Zhíyè jìnéng jiàoyù péixùn zhōngxīn) by the government of China, are internment camps operated by ...
.


Effectiveness

Waterboarding and other forms of water torture have historically been used for 1) punishing, 2) forcing confessions for use in trials, 3) eliciting false confessions for political purposes, and 4) obtaining factual intelligence for military purposes.


For eliciting confessions

Its use principally for obtaining confessions rather than as punishment dates back to the 15th century and the
Spanish Inquisition The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition ( es, Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición), commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition ( es, Inquisición española), was established in 1478 by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, Cathol ...
. It was also in use for the same purpose, albeit illegally, by U.S. police officers as recently as 1981. During the Korean War, the North Koreans used several methods of torture to achieve prisoner compliance and false confessions. Such techniques caused a U.S.airmen to falsely "confess" that there was a plan to use biological weapons against North Korea. After 9/11, CIA interrogators sought to waterboard suspected terrorists to obtain actionable intelligence, but prisoners falsely confessed to whatever interrogators accused them of in order to stop the EIT. Khalid Shaykh Muhammad fabricated stories to give his tormentors "everything they wanted to hear." Later, he recanted, citing he was being tortured when he made up the stories. The same was true for the "confessions" elicited by EIT on Riduan Isamuddin, aka Hambali.


For obtaining actionable intelligence

Waterboarding's effectiveness as a technique for reliably obtaining truthful, useful intelligence has not been established. In May 2003, a senior CIA interrogator told the CIA's Office of Inspector General that the EIT then being used by the CIA was modeled after U.S. resistance training to prepare servicemen for "physical torture" by North Vietnamese. This torture, including waterboarding, was intended to extract "confessions for propaganda purposes" from U.S. airman "who possessed little actionable intelligence." If the CIA wanted to obtain useful information rather than false confessions, he said, the CIA needed "a different working model for interrogating terrorists." Nonetheless, with the active support of former Vice President
Dick Cheney Richard Bruce Cheney ( ; born January 30, 1941) is an American politician and businessman who served as the 46th vice president of the United States from 2001 to 2009 under President George W. Bush. He is currently the oldest living former U ...
, the CIA embraced the EIT approach proposed by two psychologists, James Elmer Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, neither of whom had interrogation experience. While Cheney continues to maintain that waterboarding has "produced phenomenal results" including tracking down
Osama bin Laden Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden (10 March 1957 – 2 May 2011) was a Saudi-born extremist militant who founded al-Qaeda and served as its leader from 1988 until Killing of Osama bin Laden, his death in 2011. Ideologically a Pan-Islamism ...
, the report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded that "the CIA's use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees." There was no proof, according to the 6,700-page report, that information obtained through waterboarding prevented any attacks or saved any lives, or that information obtained from the detainees was not or could not have been obtained through conventional interrogation methods.


Legality


International law

All nations that are signatory to the
United Nations Convention Against Torture The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (commonly known as the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT)) is an international human rights treaty under the review of the United Nation ...
have agreed they are subject to the explicit prohibition on torture under any condition. This was affirmed by Saadi v. Italy in which the
European Court of Human Rights The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR or ECtHR), also known as the Strasbourg Court, is an international court of the Council of Europe which interprets the European Convention on Human Rights. The court hears applications alleging that a c ...
, on 28 February 2008, upheld the absolute nature of the torture ban by ruling that international law permits no exceptions to it. Article 2.2 of the Convention Against Torture states that " exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of
war War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or paramilitary groups such as Mercenary, mercenaries, Insurgency, insurgents, and militias. It is generally characterized by extreme violenc ...
or a threat of war, internal
political instability Political decay is a political theory, originally described by Samuel P. Huntington, which describes how chaos and disorder can arise from social modernization increasing more rapidly than political and institutional modernization. Huntington provid ...
or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture." Additionally, signatories of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an international document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA; french: link=no, Assemblée générale, AG) is one of the six pr ...
are bound to Article 5, which states, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment Cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (CIDT) is treatment of persons which is contrary to human rights Human rights are Morality, moral principles or Social norm, normsJames Nickel, with assistance from Thomas Pogge, M.B.E. Smith, and Leif ...
or punishment." Many signatories of the UN Convention Against Torture have made specific declarations and reservations regarding the interpretation of the term "torture" and restricted the
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin 'law' + 'declaration') is the legal term for the legal authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels. Jur ...
of its enforcement. However, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Louise Arbour Louise Bernice Arbour (born February 10, 1947) is a Canadian lawyer, prosecutor and jurist. Arbour was the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and the Court of Appeal for Ontario and a former C ...
, stated on the subject "I would have no problems with describing this practice as falling under the prohibition of torture", and that violators of the UN Convention Against Torture should be prosecuted under the principle of
universal jurisdiction Universal jurisdiction is a legal principle that allows Sovereign state, states or international organizations to claim criminal jurisdiction over an accused person regardless of where the alleged crime was committed, and regardless of the accuse ...
. Bent Sørensen, Senior Medical Consultant to the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims and former member of the United Nations
Committee Against Torture The Committee Against Torture (CAT) is a treaty body of human rights Human rights are Morality, moral principles or Social norm, normsJames Nickel, with assistance from Thomas Pogge, M.B.E. Smith, and Leif Wenar, 13 December 2013, Sta ...
has said: Lieutenant General Michael D. Maples, the director of the
Defense Intelligence Agency The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is an intelligence agency and combat support agency of the United States Department of Defense, specializing in defense and military intelligence. A component of the Department of Defense (DoD) and th ...
, concurred by stating, in a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, that he believes waterboarding violates Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. In a review of '' The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals'', by Jane Mayer, ''The New York Times'' reported on 11 July 2008, that "
Red Cross The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is a Humanitarianism, humanitarian movement with approximately 97 million Volunteering, volunteers, members and staff worldwide. It was founded to protect human life and health, to ensure re ...
investigators concluded last year in a secret report that the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation methods for high-level Qaeda prisoners constituted torture and could make the Bush administration officials who approved them guilty of war crimes", that the techniques applied to
Abu Zubaydah Abu Zubaydah ( ; , ''Abū Zubaydah''; born March 12, 1971, as Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn) is a Saudi Arabian currently held by the U.S. in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. He is held under the authority of Authorization for Use o ...
were "categorically" torture, and that Abu Zubaydah had told investigators that, contrary to what had been revealed previously, "he had been waterboarded at least 10 times in a single week and as many as three times in a day". Shortly before the end of Bush's second term, news media in other countries were opining that under the United Nations Convention Against Torture, the U.S. is obligated to hold those responsible to account under
criminal law Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It prescribes conduct perceived as threatening, harmful, or otherwise endangering to the property, health, safety, and welfare, moral welfare of people inclusive of one's self. Most crimin ...
. On 20 January 2009,
Manfred Nowak Manfred Nowak (born 26 June 1950 in Bad Aussee) is an Austrian human rights lawyer, who served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture from 2004 to 2010. He is Secretary General of the European Inter-University Center for Human Right ...
—the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment—stated that following the inauguration of
Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, Obama was the first Af ...
as president of the United States, George W. Bush had lost his head of state immunity; Nowak opined that under international law, the U.S. was mandated to start
criminal proceedings Criminal procedure is the adjudication process of the criminal law. While criminal procedure differs dramatically by jurisdiction, the process generally begins with a formal criminal charge with the person on trial either being free on bail or i ...
against all those involved in violations of the UN Convention Against Torture. Law professor Dietmar Herz asserted that under U.S. and international law, Bush was criminally responsible for adopting torture as interrogation tool.


United States law and regulations

The
United States Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all U.S. federal court cases, and over state court cases that involve a point ...
in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, said that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights "does not of its own force impose obligations as a matter of international law." However, the United States has a historical record of regarding waterboarding as a war crime, and has prosecuted individuals for such practice in the past. In 1947, during the Yokohama War Crimes Trials, the United States prosecuted a Japanese civilian who had served in World War II as an interpreter for the Japanese military, Yukio Asano, for "Violation of the Laws and Customs of War", asserting that he "did unlawfully take and convert to his own use Red Cross packages and supplies intended for" prisoners, but, far worse, that he also "did willfully and unlawfully mistreat and torture" prisoners of war. The charges against Asano included "beating using hands, fists, club; kicking; water torture; burning using cigarettes; strapping on a stretcher head downward." The specifications in the charges with regard to "water torture" consisted of "pouring water up henostrils" of one prisoner, "forcing water into hemouths and noses" of two other prisoners, and "forcing water into henose" of a fourth prisoner. Asano received a sentence of 15 years of hard labor. Following the
September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks, commonly known as 9/11, were four coordinated Suicide attack, suicide List of terrorist incidents, terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda against the United States on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. That morning, ...
, several memoranda, including the Bybee memo, were written analyzing the legal position and possibilities in the treatment of prisoners. The memos, known today as the "torture memos", advocate enhanced interrogation techniques, while pointing out that refuting the
Geneva Conventions file:Geneva Convention 1864 - CH-BAR - 29355687.pdf, upright=1.15, Original document in single pages, 1864 The Geneva Conventions are four Treaty, treaties, and three additional Protocol (diplomacy), protocols, that establish international law ...
would reduce the possibility of prosecution for war crimes. In addition, a new definition of torture was issued. Most actions that fall under the international definition do not fall within this new definition advocated by the U.S. In its 2005
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices Country Reports on Human Rights Practices are annual publications on the human rights conditions in countries and regions outside the United States, mandated by U.S. law to be submitted annually by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of ...
, the
U.S. Department of State The United States Department of State (DOS), or State Department, is an executive department The Executive, also referred as the Executive branch or Executive power, is the term commonly used to describe that part of government ...
formally recognized "submersion of the head in water" as torture in its examination of
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa , image_map2 = , capital = Tunis , largest_city = capital , ...
's poor human rights record, and draws parallels between the two techniques, citing the similar usage of water on the subject. On 6 September 2006, the U.S. Department of Defense released a revised Army Field Manual entitled ''Human Intelligence Collector Operations'' that prohibits the use of waterboarding by U.S. military personnel. The department adopted the manual amid widespread criticism of U.S. handling of prisoners in the
War on Terrorism The war on terror, officially the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), is an ongoing international Counterterrorism, counterterrorism military campaign initiated by the United States following the September 11 attacks. The main targets of the campa ...
, and prohibits other practices in addition to waterboarding. The revised manual applies only to U.S. military personnel, and as such does not apply to the practices of the CIA. Nevertheless, Steven G. Bradbury, acting head of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
Office of Legal Counsel The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) is an office in the United States Department of Justice The United States Department of Justice (DOJ), also known as the Justice Department, is a United States federal executive departments, federal executi ...
, on 14 February 2008 testified: In addition, both under the War Crimes Act and
international law International law (also known as public international law and the law of nations) is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally recognized as binding between State (polity), states. It establishes normative guidelines and a common conceptua ...
, violators of the laws of war are criminally liable under the
command responsibility Command responsibility (superior responsibility, the Yamashita standard, and the Medina standard) is the legal doctrine of hierarchical accountability for war crimes.
doctrine, and they could still be prosecuted for war crimes. Commenting on the torture memos, Scott Horton pointed out:
Michael Mukasey Michael Bernard Mukasey (; born July 28, 1941) is an American attorney and former federal judge who served as the 81st Attorney General of the United States The United States attorney general (AG) is the head of the United States Department of ...
's refusal to investigate and prosecute anyone that relied on these legal opinions led Jordan Paust of the
University of Houston Law Center The University of Houston Law Center is the Law school in the United States, law school of the University of Houston in Houston, Texas. Founded in 1947, the Law Center is one of 12 colleges of the University of Houston, a state university. It is ...
to write an article for
JURIST A jurist is a person with expert knowledge of law; someone who analyses and comments on law. This person is usually a specialist legal scholar, mostly (but not always) with a formal qualification in law and often a legal practitioner. In the U ...
stating: On 22 February 2008, Senator
Sheldon Whitehouse Sheldon Whitehouse (born October 20, 1955) is an American lawyer and politician serving as the junior United States senator The United States Senate is the Upper house, upper chamber of the United States Congress, with the United States ...
made public that "the Justice Department has announced it has launched an investigation of the role of top DOJ officials and staff attorneys in authorizing and/or overseeing the use of waterboarding by U.S. intelligence agencies." Both houses of the United States Congress approved a bill by February 2008 that would ban waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. As he promised, President Bush vetoed the legislation on 8 March. His veto applied to the authorization for the entire intelligence budget for the 2008 fiscal year, but he cited the waterboarding ban as the reason for the veto. Supporters of the bill supporters lacked enough votes to overturn the veto. On 22 January 2009, President
Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, Obama was the first Af ...
signed Executive Order 13491, which requires both U.S. military and paramilitary organizations to use the Army Field Manual as the guide on getting information from prisoners, moving away from the Bush administration tactics.


Images of waterboarding in use

While waterboarding has been depicted in several films and demonstrated at protest gatherings, images of its actual use are scarce. The CIA allegedly destroyed all videos it made of the procedure. The 1968 ''Washington Post'' photo of a captured North Vietnamese soldier being interrogated is arguably different because instead of being strapped to a board, the prisoner is held down by two soldiers as a third pours water from a canteen over a cloth covering face. One eyewitness depiction of waterboarding is a painting by Vann Nath, a
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, Romanization of Khmer#UNGEGN, UNGEGN: ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese Peninsula in Southeast Asia, spanning an ar ...
n artist who was held captive and tortured by the
Khmer Rouge The Khmer Rouge (; ; km, ខ្មែរក្រហម, ; ) is the name that was popularly given to members of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) and by extension to the Democratic Kampuchea, regime through which the CPK ruled Cambodia ...
. After his release in 1979 from
Tuol Sleng Prison The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum ( km, សារមន្ទីរឧក្រិដ្ឋកម្មប្រល័យពូជសាសន៍ទួលស្លែង) or simply Tuol Sleng ( km, ទួលស្លែង, link=no, ; lit. "Hill of ...
, he began to paint pictures of the abusive practices used there, including waterboarding, to let people know about them, saying of the prisoners he heard screaming for help: "I would like their souls to get something from what I paint." One of his waterboarding paintings depicts a sparse room with a man affixed to a board by iron bars. A cloth covers his head. Another man pours water from a watering can over his face. A similar board and watering can are on display at the
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum ( km, សារមន្ទីរឧក្រិដ្ឋកម្មប្រល័យពូជសាសន៍ទួលស្លែង) or simply Tuol Sleng ( km, ទួលស្លែង, link=no, ; lit. "Hill of ...
. ''Waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah'', a drawing by , has been exhibited at the
Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences The Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (russian: Институт востоковедения Российской Академии Наук), formerly Institute of Oriental Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences, ...
,
DePaul University DePaul University is a private university, private, Catholic higher education, Catholic research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded by the Congregation of the Mission, Vincentians in 1898, the university takes its name from the 17th-centu ...
, Brecht Forum,
The Graduate Center, CUNY The Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York (CUNY Graduate Center) is a public research institution and post-graduate university in New York City New York, often called New York Ci ...
, and
Palace of Culture and Science A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence, or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word is derived from the Latin name palātium, for Palatine Hill in Rome which ...
. In 2008, the '' Coney Island waterboarding thrill ride'' went on display in
Coney Island Coney Island is a peninsular neighborhood and entertainment area in the southwestern section of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The neighborhood is bounded by Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, Manhattan Beach to its east, L ...
amusement park: viewers would see two models, one a captive wearing an orange uniform who was spread-eagled on a tilted table, the other one a masked interrogator. When viewers inserted a dollar the interrogator figure would pour water onto a rag over the captive figures' nose and throat, upon which the captive figure would start convulsing.


See also

* '' At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA'' *
Command responsibility Command responsibility (superior responsibility, the Yamashita standard, and the Medina standard) is the legal doctrine of hierarchical accountability for war crimes.
* Department of Defense Directive 2310 * Dunking *
Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture The Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program is a report compiled by the bipartisan United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence The United States Senate Select Committee on Intellig ...
* Torture and the United States


References


Further reading

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External links

{{WoTPrisoners George W. Bush administration controversies Contemporary instruments of torture Counterterrorism