Waterboarding Debate

History and Debate of Waterboarding

Waterboarding is a form of torture that involves pouring water over the face of an immobilized victim. This causes the person to feel like he or she is drowning. There are a variety of techniques used in waterboarding. Many times, a cloth is placed over the subject's face and he or she is reclined on board with the head pointed downward. Water is then poured over the mouth and nose, causing the person to experience a gag reflex.

The effects of waterboarding are many. Subjects often experience extreme pain, lung damage, brain damage from lack of oxygen, and dry drowning. People may also suffer broken bones and other physical injuries from struggling against restraints. Psychological damage is also very common, as is death. These effects can manifest moments or years after the event and can last a lifetime.

In 2007, it was reported that the CIA, or Central Intelligence Agency, had been using waterboarding on prisoners. This had been authorized by the Department of Justice, even though the United States had hung Japanese soldiers for using the same procedure during World War II. Various officials argued that waterboarding was not a form of torture and argued for a narrower definition of torture under United States law in order to justify their actions.

Arguments for Waterboarding

Those who argue for the use of waterboarding as a torture technique cite several instances in which the procedure did allow the United States to procure valuable information from a prisoner. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was water boarded over 180 times during his interrogation. He did end up providing information on an Al Qaeda leader in England. It reportedly took him only 2 and one half minutes to start confessing. Interrogators who believe in the technique state that drowning is a baseline fear and that people will do almost anything to avoid it. They argue that it is not painful, but it does scare people a great deal. Following this incident, Dick Cheney seemed to agree with the use of waterboarding, but later denied his stance.

Abu Subaida was also water boarded while being interrogated by the United States CIA. He began releasing information after only 35 seconds. However, it was later found that he was lying and making up information to stop the torture. Many who are opposed to waterboarding cite this case as an example of its uselessness as a torture technique. The prisoner will make up almost anything in order to stop the torture. This information that is obtained from a tortured prisoner is often useless.

Outlawing the Practice

In 2009, President Barack Obama outlawed waterboarding. It remains unknown whether or not it is still used for training purposes in the CIA. This was mainly done because it was believed to be a form of torture and very inhumane. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that no man should be subjected to inhumane treatment or punishment and waterboarding is classified as such by many government officials. Several news groups including Fox News and Current TV have hosted segments on waterboarding in which they perform the procedure on volunteers. Volunteers have found the procedure so unpleasant that they demanded stopping after only several seconds.

Whether or not waterboarding should be legal in the United States remains a source of great controversy. This form of torture does in fact cause great pain and anxiety, but is that pain worth the valuable information it can sometimes lead to?

For Waterboarding

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Against Waterboarding

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