Friday, July 04, 2008

How much does it cost to get waterboarded?

So Christopher Hitchens got waterboarded for Vanity Fair. You can watch the video here and read his thoughtful article about the experience here. Conclusion - it's torture, but I kinda hoped everybody knew that already. But there seems to be a some bizarre little side industry in waterboarding journalists springing up. Presumably it is ex-military or CIA people doing it? Hence the fashion for balaclavas and once again a penchant for those vests with lots of pockets in them, favoured by wannabe foreign correspondents. Do they get paid for this? At the same time other former military interrogation experts are desperately trying to get Hollywood to stop making films and TV shows where the heroes torture, because American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to be copying them.

1 comment:

Quizbo said...

Though I do wish they had picked a subject that wasn't in the words of the author himself, "a wheezing, paunchy scribbler," I have no doubts that this sort of thing is physically and psychologically equivalent to torture (even if the moral equivalence is a bit hazier as Hitchens writes in the article).

Don't know if you saw the long NYTimes piece on the CIA interrogator who was so successful with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and who refused training in waterboarding... very interesting piece that I think asks another interesting set of questions about the basic utility of such harsh methods:

Just a small point on the vests... wannabe foreign correspondents wear them because it is the assumed standard uniform to show you're working "in the field" rather than in an air conditioned office, occasionally going to the roof for a live shot while local journalists go out to take all the risks. Real foreign journalists wear them to store their numerous pencil nubs, half notebooks and tissue fragments. Guys like the ones in this story wear them because they can be worn relatively comfortably in summertime and are long enough to adequately cover hip-holstered concealed weapons, yet allow easy sweep aside access.