Why It Was Called ‘Water Torture’

Last week, much to my dismay, government officials testified before Congress that the United States has used the interrogation technique known as waterboarding and would like to hold out the option of using it in the future. As someone who has experienced waterboarding, albeit in a controlled setting, I know that the act is indeed torture. I was waterboarded during my training to become a Navy flight crew member. As has been noted in The Post and other media outlets, waterboarding is “real drowning that simulates death.” It’s an experience our country should not subject people to.

In February 1963, I was ordered from the Naval Air Station in Alameda, Calif., to Whidbey Island, Wash., for survival training. Part of the week-long program was a brief incarceration in a simulated prisoner-of-war camp; at that time, the program was modeled on events that had occurred during the Korean War. First we were to be “held” in a mock North Korean camp and later transferred to a Chinese camp.

The enlisted men who supervised the training worked to make the situation realistic, and they succeeded in convincing me that I never wanted to become a prisoner of war. I recall that after our “capture,” the sailors — wearing Red Army uniforms — marched the dozen or so of us along the ocean without our boots. It was very cold, and all our resolve and determination could not prevent our courage from eventually draining out through our wet feet. They took us to a compound of small huts with dirt floors. The camp was surrounded by barbed wire, and the entrance was guarded by armed soldiers.

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