For all the recent controversy about waterboarding, a torture technique used by the CIA to interrogate Al Qaeda operatives, there have been precious few firsthand accounts of what it’s actually like to be waterboarded. (The technique involves strapping a person to a board, with their legs elevated and their head leaned back, then wrapping their face in towels, which are then drenched with water so that the person begins to drown.)
The iconoclastic writer and critic Christopher Hitchens decided to find out for himself. In the August issue of Vanity Fair, he provides a harrowing, minute-by-minute account of his waterboarding, which he volunteered for in May. The title of the article: “Believe Me, It’s Torture.”
Hitchens agreed to protect the anonymity of the former Army Special Forces troops who put him through the procedure. Such troops, among other commando units, are sometimes waterboarded as part of their SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) training. Before the war on terror, Hitchens notes, such torture tactics were “something that Americans were being trained to resist, not inflict.”
The Special Forces — aka Green Berets — receive their SERE training at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, which is in the eastern part of North Carolina. However, in a curious aside, Hitchens says that his trial by waterboard was conducted at a facility “deep in the hill country of western North Carolina.”
No further details about the location are mentioned, leaving us at Xpress stumped. We’re not aware of any WNC-area facility, governmental or private, that would have personnel who are trained in such dark arts. Are you? Please share any tips or possibilities in the comment field below.
— Jon Elliston, managing editor