What is this?


This is a waterboard at Tuol Sleng prison in Cambodia, the torture center of the Khmer Rouge; one of the most brutal totalitarian regimes in recent memory.

What is this?

This is a painting of waterboarding at Tuol Sleng painted by a prisoner who survived.

What is this?

This is an illustration of waterboarding during the Mexican Inquisition, also known as 'toca' or 'tormento de agua'. this picture is from the book "La Familia Carvajal", by Alfonso Toro.

What is this?


This is a picture of US troops waterboarding a North Vietnamese POW in 1968. Waterboarding was, at the time, specifically prohibited and the soldier was court martialed and discharged from the army.

What do these pictures tell us about our current use of waterboarding on terrorist suspects?

Well, not much specifically, but it makes one wonder about the moral underpinnings of the practice given that it is associated with the undisputed torture chambers of two of the most vile and brutal regimes known to mankind. Let's just say I don't usually go out of my way to do something just because someone says, "Oh, but that's the way Pol Pot would have done it," or, "But it worked for the Inquisition." Maybe I'm old fashioned.

It is also very interesting to note that waterboarding was specifically prohibited for all prisoners during the Vietnam war despite the fact that we were fighting a non-military, terrorist insurgency by the name of the Viet Cong alongside the NVA. Not only that but there is a history of severe punishment in the US military for any soldier who has used this technique.

What does this lead to? A conclusion that we have changed our position on waterboarding of non-military prisoners to be more in line with the Khmer Rouge regime and to better approximate the ability to exact confessions shown by the Spanish Inquisition.

Does this pose a moral quandary to anyone else? Before even answering the question, "Is it really Torture," doesn't it give you pause to notice that we are aligning ourselves with the views on treatment of prisoners shared by Pol Pot and Tomas de Torquemada?

Does it make you wonder what the quality of the resultant "intel" might be given that both the Khmer Rouge and the Inquisition were not particularly worried about the trustworthiness of their confessions? As long as a confession was extracted they were happy, as is evidenced by the numerous innocents killed during the Inquisition. Is waterboarding designed to extract truth or simply extract 'something, anything' that will satisfy the political motivations of those doing the water boarding? It's a good question. What does your gut tell you?

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. More to come on this subject to come.