The Water Cure



So we know after last month, that our government approved and used waterboarding. Stephen Bradbury, acting chief of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, gave testimony before a congressional committee, saying that when the CIA proposed using waterboarding, Bradbury’s office advised them that it wasn’t torture if they followed “strict guidelines and procedures.” Bradbury also pointed out that the CIA’s special secret recipe for waterboarding — even though committee members all had security clearance, Bradbury wouldn’t reveal the technique — was far different from the historical method.

As Bradley noted, the old school way of water torture involved the forced consumption of water and was used during the Spanish Inquisition and by the Japanese in World War II. Bradly forgot to mention another important group that used that type of water torture: the United States.

In a New Yorker article, “The Water Cure,”professor Paul Kramer describes how the United States army employed the euphemistically titled “water cure” on Filipino revolutionaries during the early 1900s. The similarities between what happened then and what most recently occurred in Iraq and elsewhere don’t end with water. Just like no officers were court-martialed after the Abu Ghraib scandal, the military trial over tortured Filipinos resulted in an officer receiving (he testified his actions were “justified by military necessity”) a one-month suspension and a $50 fine.

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