Room 101

Author Christopher Hitchens voluntarily underwent a waterboarding treatment, in order to add his firsthand experience to the torture debate:

I do have a fear of drowning that comes from a bad childhood moment on the Isle of Wight, when I got out of my depth. As a boy reading the climactic torture scene of 1984, where what is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world, I realize that somewhere in my version of that hideous chamber comes the moment when the wave washes over me.

Hitchens took two brave dunks into the tank before quickly succumbing to sheer panic.

As if detecting my misery and shame, one of my interrogators comfortingly said, “Any time is a long time when you’re breathing water.” I could have hugged him for saying so, and just then I was hit with a ghastly sense of the sadomasochistic dimension that underlies the relationship between the torturer and the tortured. I apply the Abraham Lincoln test for moral casuistry: “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.

The entire article is thoughtful and not at all a typical vitriolic Hitchens piece, and is worth reading in its entirety.

John Cole at the Balloon Juice blog asks, “Can the indictments start now?”

posted 7/3/08 at 8:27am to Politics, Wingnuttery · 0 replies · permalink