Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Journalist Undergoes Torture, but not Hannity

Last week, perhaps joking around, perhaps not, Sean Hannity told Charles Grodin, on air, that he would let himself be waterboarded for charity with the proceeds to benefit military families. The offer arose from a discussion of the danger to the military from taking waterboarding out of the arsenal of tools available in the fight against terrorism.

Hannity's long time nemesis, Keith Olbermann, immediately took him up on it and offered Hannity $1,000 for each second that he was able to endure the waterboarding and would double the amount if he would admit, on air, that waterboarding is in fact torture. Not surprisingly, neither Hannity nor Fox News has responded.

For those who think the challenge from Keith Olbermann to Sean Hannity is theater - which it is, but not just theater - and that waterboarding isn't really torture, you should read Christopher Hitchen's take on the process of waterboarding. As he says, quite emphatically, "The “board” is the instrument, not the method. You are not being boarded. You are being watered."

To better understand what everyone was talking about, Mr. Hitchens, a journalist, asked to be waterboarded. His story detailing his experience appeared in the August 2008 issue of Vanity Fair Magazine titled Believe Me, It's Torture

"...I had read that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, invariably referred to as the “mastermind” of the atrocities of September 11, 2001, had impressed his interrogators by holding out for upwards of two minutes before cracking. (By the way, this story is not confirmed. My North Carolina friends jeered at it. “Hell,” said one, “from what I heard they only washed his damn face before he babbled.”) But, hell, I thought in my turn, no Hitchens is going to do worse than that. Well, O.K., I admit I didn’t outdo him. And so then I said, with slightly more bravado than was justified, that I’d like to try it one more time."
Even knowing what to expect, even knowing before the first episode and even more so before the second, Mr. Hitchens said afterwards:

"...Steeling myself to remember what it had been like last time, and to learn from the previous panic attack, I fought down the first, and some of the second, wave of nausea and terror but soon found that I was an abject prisoner of my gag reflex. The interrogators would hardly have had time to ask me any questions, and I knew that I would quite readily have agreed to supply any answer. I still feel ashamed when I think about it."
We still don't know how long Mr. Hitchens endured the watering. We do know from his story, that from an experience that lasted for seconds, under controlled conditions, knowing that all times he was completely safe, he developed symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Do we want to stop terrorism? Then we need to stop being terrorists.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

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