Just the sound of it makes you squeal with discomfort. Witnessing someone being waterboarded is enough to make your heart skip a beat or two. Being the victim of it wouldn’t help you sleep soundly that night.
This is the Waterboard Survival Guide. We’re going to cover how to survive waterboarding and prepare as much as you can for it if it were to ever happen.
In July of 2015, Congress officially banned in no certain terms enhanced torture including waterboarding. Prior to that, President Obama issued an executive order shortly after become President banning the practice. The new bill, simply made it official
Prior to that, however, the United States, particularly the CIA was an active participant in the practice overseas in Iraq for example and the practice was widely used.
Still, in use by a number of countries, James Mitchell, a CIA operative, wrote about how it was done.
What is Waterboarding?
Waterboarding is a simulation of drowning. Normally when someone drowns, their entire body is submerged underwater. Being waterboarded creates a scenario where just the important parts, your nose, and mouth are submerged in water temporarily. Thus creating the experience of drowning.
The subject whom the CIA wanted information to was put on a gurney which was tipped so his head was near the ground. A cloth was then placed over his head, and water was slowly poured over the cloth, first at 20-second intervals, then, paused, then 20 seconds again, and after a brief pause, extended to 40-second intervals.
The subject feels immediately like they are drowning and that’s because they drowning, only slowly.
How Brutal is the Process?
Incredibly brutal according to Vanity Fair Writer Christain Huitches who did not feel that waterboarding was torture before undergoing it for himself.
In a video, Hutchins agreed to undergo waterboarding after a challenge from his editor.
He was placed on a flat gurney, not a tipped one, given both codewords for the procedure to stop, and also given two metal clamps to drop or throw on the floor if he wanted the waterboarding to stop.
Naturally, individuals who have been waterboarded in the past such as Abu Zubbayday, an Al Queda high-value detainee, was who was waterboarded several times did not have a code word for their interrogation, nor metal paddles to throw on the floor to make it stop.
As far as Christain Hutchens was concerned. He threw the paddles on the floor within 10 seconds. That’s all he could take.
How To Survive
First of all, fortunately, few people will ever find out, but if you are one of the unfortunate ones, the first thing to pray is that your interrogators know what they are doing.
It is easy to kill someone when waterboarding, including both literally drowning, suffocating, and giving you a heart attack. But why bother if killing you is the object. A bullet to the back of the head Soviet-style is a lot quicker and easier.
No, the object obtains information, not kill you, so assuming that you don’t have a heart attack, or drown, waterboarding is survivable.
According to Dr. Paul Chabot in an Iraq War Veteran and current Intelligence Officer in the United States Navy Reserves, it’s nearly impossible to prepare yourself for waterboarding. No matter how you much you steel yourself, everything gets thrown out the window when you feel you are drowning.
Does Everyone Break Under Waterboarding?
Surprisingly no. Studies dating as far back as World War I and World War II show that for some detainees, no amount of torture works to get verifiable information, while with some detainees practically anything will work.
So the particular individual strength of an individual is the telling factor.
Never the less even experienced CIA operatives report that they don’t waterboard that often, and that may be a part of why some people are able to resist.
For example, reports that Kahilid Shiek Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 plot was waterboarded 183 times are greatly exaggerated.
Shiek Mohammed was waterboarded 15 different times, and the 183 number refers to the times when water was poured at him, not the number of different times he was strapped on a gurney.
Knowing that there was a possible limitation on the number of times the CIA could do it was possibly a reason for his resilence, and finally, the CIA gave up after realizing he told them mostly lies.
What about holding your breath?
Naturally, it seems to make sense that if people are waterboarded for 20 seconds at a time, and the average man can hold their breath for about 45 seconds to one minute, then holding your breath would be the ideal solution.
First, it doesn’t work because your jaw is tilted violently open, making the water easy to go through your throat.
Secondly, waterboarding can proceed for several rounds. You may hold your breath the first time, but then after that, your next breath will come with a bigger gulp of water.
Can people be trained to resist waterboarding?
Possibly, but it is extremely unlikely. First of all, relatively few people would volunteer to be waterboarded.
In addition, even if they did, they would have the knowledge factor that it was only just temporary. Certainly, nobody would volunteer to be waterboarded for a solid 10 minutes. And too many amateur “torturers” would cause a rash of drownings and heart attacks.
Finally, very few “big fish” in Al Queda or other terrorist organizations ever believes they would be captured by the enemy. Past military history shows that almost all of them were caught in “total surprise.”
Frequently Asked Questions
What does waterboarding feel like?
Unlucky people who have been waterboarded report that your throat immediately begins to gag, and you literally feel like you are drowning in a matter of seconds. You literally feel like you are drowning and the shock you feel is overwhelming.
How Does Waterboarding Not Drown Someone?
Waterboarding created the sensation of drowning without actually drowning. Water never fills up your lungs like it does if you were submerged underwater trying to breathe.
What about just submitting?
Well, submission is always an option, and if you add crying, wetting your pants and other actions, it’s possible your tortures may simply decide you don’t have enough credible information to be believable.
How can you survive waterboarding?
An iron will.
The Bottom Line
Live a clean life and don’t engage in terrorist attacks in the first place. Even a mild form of waterboarding can produce permanent physical as well as psychological effects.
And as a citizen, never support or agree to your government’s use of waterboarding. The price of the integrity of your government is not worth the cost.