Waterboarding is back in the news, after former President George W. Bush defended the practice in his new book "Decision Points." As many reporters did when the waterboarding debate was raging a few years ago, a reporter for the London tabloid The Sun named Oliver Harvey underwent the procedure to see for himself if it is torture, or just an "interrogation technique."
Here are excerpts from his report: The night before my ordeal I was restless. I read on the Internet in an unconfirmed report that al-Qaeda chief Khalid Sheik Mohammed - the mastermind of the 9/11 atrocities - had impressed his interrogators by holding out for around two and half minutes before cracking. Others have said they "only washed his damn face" before he talked.
I knew I could stop my waterboarding at any time, that I would always have a doctor at my side, but the fear was real.
Harvey said the doctor told him what to expect. He writes that that didn't make it any easier:
My captor roughly pushed me down on to the tilted hard wood and quickly wrapped a white towel around my head until it was tight on my face. Then in my twilight world of darkness and muffled sound, the water began to trickle, then splash, into my nose and gasping mouth. I was desperate to hold my breath, to fight the sensation to gag.
My "interrogator" - acting like a CIA agent desperate to get information from a terrorist - barked somewhere to my right in the pitch dark: "Confess. Give me names, locations."
I began to fight for breath through waves of nausea. I was desperate to stay calm, desperate not to inhale.
But the water kept flooding into my nostrils and mouth and I began to choke.
Now I was entering another circle of hell. I felt I was drowning, like a huge boulder was on my chest pushing me beneath the ocean waves.
Shivering, I wanted to scream a thousand screams but nothing came out and the water kept gushing in.
Photo courtesy The Sun
The water was now pouring down my nostrils and into my lungs, I was choking and my mind a fog. Like a nightmare you can't wake up from, the water kept coming. And then I could stand it no more.
Bolt upright, my blindfold ripped off and coughing up liquid I wailed: "I'm drowning."
I had lasted 12 seconds of this revolting and inhumane practice.
My personal opinion?
This is no "interrogation technique" but torture pure and simple with no place in a civilised society.
I would have told my interrogator anything they wanted to hear to make it stop.