First, a couple blog notes. I haven't been posting as much because my free time has been filled with writing my new book. More info and the cover are in the forums. Also, lots of people have been linking to me recently. I really appreciate it!
For those who don't know, waterboarding is a controversial subject these days. It's an torture method which is used to interrogate suspects and designed to simulate drowning. Supposedly it's so bad that the average marine can only handle it for 15 seconds.
It's done by having the detainee lie on his back with his head lower than his body. A rag is then stretched across his face and water is poured on it. If you're anything like me, you're thinking "What? How bad could that be? 15 seconds? These marines are sisses."
If you're exactly like me, then you decided to test it. A couple friends came over and we set up a piece of plywood in a declined position. To add to the effect we added some ropes to tie down the victim's hands. I was dying to go first.
I lay down and got my hands tied. The rag was pulled across my face and cold water was poured from a bucket. It was a lot worse than I thought.
What happens is water seeps through the cloth and runs down the nostrils straight into the sinuses. Nothing you can do will stop this. The effect of having ones sinuses fill with water triggers that "Holy god I'm drowning" reaction that causes panic. After 15 seconds or so I tapped out and they removed the rag. I pushed the water out of my sinuses and waited for my turn again.
My two friends went and lasted similar times. It was harder than we thought - unpleasant but not painful. It was getting cold, but I tried again. This time I tried methods to breathe that didn't work, but I did notice something. When my sinuses completely filled with water, the drowning sensation ceased to get worse. I can hold my breath for 3 minutes on a good day, so all I'd have to do was put up with the weird water in the sinus feeling.
My last try lasted over 20 seconds and was cut short by the bucket running out of water. Just knowing that it was going to be ok once my sinuses filled made it much easier. I wanted to try again but I was full of water and it was getting cold.
If I ever get taken hostage my plan is to flail after 10 seconds so that they think I hate it (even though I don't), and hopefully they will let me out before it really becomes a problem. Just practicing a few times really made it a bearable torture. Here are some videos :
In the first one it's easier to see what's going on. In the second one I last a bit longer.
Oh, and in case you're trying this at home - for three days when I sneezed it smelled like tap water, and I got a wicked fever a couple nights after.
I was a Marine and not a POG either, I never heard this 15 seconds of water boarding urban legend. first time I hear it, is now.
Keep in mind - Its a little different when your buddies are doing it and you know they will stop when you can't take anymore.
It won't kill you, but Im sure they uses hoses and not buckets of water, cause then you don't get a brake.
Don't get me wrong. I get it, you heard about this and wanted to try it out, Its better then drugs.
Build a tolerance to it and that will be some shit. Keep adding 5 seconds to your last time, the mind and body is incredible, its amazing what you can get used to, Trust
My husband was a POW in Vietnam, tortured by his North Vietnamese captors. He suffered from his injuries for over thirty years, until his fatal heart attack 23 months ago.
The vital part of torture that you are missing is the complete lack of control. You had the ability to tell your friends to stop and they would. Real torturers don't! Torture affects not just the tortured but the torturers, for the rest of their lives.
Torture is ALWAYS wrong, no matter who is doing it to whom.
I wouldn't say that the experiment had no merit at all. After all, military folks go through training to prepare them for possible torture, all while being aware that it's just training.
Of course, that's not to say that such training can ever fully prepare one for being tortured. And although he was able to tap out with his friends and real torturers wouldn't let you, they most likely will stop before you're dead, if they truly want info from you. So keeping that in mind and already knowing what it feels like I would think could potentially prepare someone slightly better for being waterboarded than someone who has no idea what it entails.
Not the best training in the world, but not totally without value.
No amount of training can fully prepare you for the real thing. Methods like the one you did are very useful though. SERE school compartmentalizes the training in a safe (as possible) way to prepare soldiers for possible capture. The closer the training is to a real situation and the more times you perform it, the more desensitized you will become to it. It will still suck, just not as much. I know people who have been through SERE school and they all said it sucked. Get a group of people together and have them chase you through a wooded area or park, catch you, tie your hands behind your back, place a sack over your head, put you in a trunk or a van, drive around to somewhere you don't know, and (all of them wearing bacalavas) waterboard you. See if that changes anything. you could write something on a piece of paper that they are trying to find out too..just to see if you'll tell them. I always wanted to try the water drop one from china too. secure someone to a board in a dark room and have a single drop of water hit them on the forehead over and over..see how that one goes.
Pretty stupid article, man.
The title should be 'how to not choke before the bucket of water your friends are pouring over you runs out.'
"After 15 seconds or so I tapped out and they removed the rag. I pushed the water out of my sinuses and waited for my turn again.
My last try lasted over 20 seconds and was cut short by the bucket running out of water. Just knowing that it was going to be ok once my sinuses filled made it much easier. I wanted to try again but I was full of water and it was getting cold."
Exactly how it happens in Gitmo, I'm sure.
In all seriousness, while I admire your courage to submit yourself to such an ordeal, this really doesn't offer anything substantiative to the debate on the use of this and other torture techniques. Given that you know the technique, know the outcome, and know the people involved, you have removed all of the psychological elements of torture from the equation.
I just hope this isn't used as an example for the pro-torture throng to show how waterboarding is more like an intense water balloon fight, than a Khmer Rouge/Gulag technique....just like those frat house pranks at Abu Ghraib.
Another thing that you probably have to think about is that it's a lot different being waterboarded by friends than being captured and being waterboarded by members of the government. It might be a bit tougher to concentrate. :)
So I'm trying to be a good little blogger and update this puppy every day. I've got two hours left before it's tomorrow and I don't have the picture I need to do the update I want, so we're going into the vault.
A couple years ago I put the biggest above ground pool I could find in my living room. The pictures were posted to a bunch of those link collecting sites and almost 7000 people saw the pictures the first day. Every year or so they are rediscovered and they get a ton of hits. However, I've never publicly told the story of the pool and why I did it. Avast!
One day my friend Crystal sends me an IM. Here's a dramatic rendition of the event :
There was a pretty ferocious storm a couple days ago in Hong Kong that damaged some of the infrastructure up on Mount Davis. The internet was down due to a lightning strike and water went off for a while. That's fine, yesterday I went to down to HK Island and worked from Pacific Coffee. I had to hurry to grab the shuttle down the mountain and didn't get my morning walk/run in, so I went around 11PM when I came back until I found a well lit place to jog back and forth on the mountain, and I came back at midnight.
I'm sweaty, exhausted, and I think - oh, I hope the water's back on... I should've checked...
I went to the shower, turned the nob, and... the water started. Good.
But no hot water for some reason. And it was quite cold.
At first I flinch and tense up a little bit as I step into the water, and then I think - why should I flinch? Mind over matter. This will be cold,. and I'll enjoy it anyways.