Hitchens Agrees: Waterboarding Is Torture

Controversial writer puts his money where his mouth is, takes plunge for Vanity Fair

By Lev Weinstein,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 3, 2008 3:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – "You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it simulates the feeling of drowning," Christopher Hitchens writes of waterboarding in Vanity Fair. "You feel that you are drowning because you are drowning," concludes the author, who experienced the controversial interrogation technique himself. "I find I don't want to tell you how little time I lasted."

Even on a second run-through, under the tutelage of veterans who teach soldiers to resist the experience, Hitchens couldn't last longer than moments as he was "unable to determine whether I was breathing in or out," under layers of soaked cloth. He is forced to conclude: "If waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture."

Protesters stage mock waterboarding.
Protesters stage mock waterboarding.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
The author described the experience as a mixture of suffocating and drowning.
The author described the experience as a mixture of suffocating and drowning.   (Getty Images)
Essayist Christopher Hitchens 'tested the waters' for himsef, and found them rather unpleasant.
Essayist Christopher Hitchens 'tested the waters' for himsef, and found them rather unpleasant.   (AP Photo/Chad Rachman)
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