About That Waterboarding, Ctd

A reader writes:

I’m sure I’m among a legion of Dish readers to ask you to note in a follow-up post that “just” pouring water over a cloth on top of someone’s nose and mouth (or only their nose, while holding their mouth shut), absolutely induces the same psychological experience of desperate, drowning panic that immersing the person in a bath tub would.  You have led the way in reminding the public of that.  I believe it was Hitch who volunteered to experience it, and emerged ghastly and shaken, remarking that the only thing he could cling to during the traumatizing experience was that the people doing it to him were his allies in publicizing the procedure and wished him well, rather than enemies who could be presumed to enjoy his suffering and wish him dead.  He said it was “absolutely torture.”  Don’t let a government hack, no matter how well intentioned a leaker, obscure the fact that “traditional” water boarding is “real torture,” via some specious suggestion that shoving someone’s head under water and holding it there until a doctor says, that’s it, he’s almost dead, is worse.

Duly noted. And there’s a danger that these leaks are designed to create a category of particularly brutal torture that makes the previous euphemisms – “enhanced interrogation”, “stress positions” – somehow less repellent and evil. We must resist that. The report is about the totality of the torture program; and it should be seen and assessed as a whole.