Salon's Mark Benjamin went spelunking in the recently released CIA torture memos and comes back with a stomach-churning account of the waterboarding practiced at Gitmo. This fine-tuned torture process repeatedly took its victims to the brink of death (one victim was waterboarded 180+ times) until many of them simply gave up on breathing and tried to allow themselves to drown, only to be revived by unethical medical personnel who collaborated with the war criminals conducting the torture.
The documents also lay out, in chilling detail, exactly what should occur in each two-hour waterboarding "session." Interrogators were instructed to start pouring water right after a detainee exhaled, to ensure he inhaled water, not air, in his next breath. They could use their hands to "dam the runoff" and prevent water from spilling out of a detainee's mouth. They were allowed six separate 40-second "applications" of liquid in each two-hour session - and could dump water over a detainee's nose and mouth for a total of 12 minutes a day. Finally, to keep detainees alive even if they inhaled their own vomit during a session - a not-uncommon side effect of waterboarding - the prisoners were kept on a liquid diet. The agency recommended Ensure Plus.
"This is revolting and it is deeply disturbing," said Dr. Scott Allen, co-director of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at Brown University who has reviewed all of the documents for Physicians for Human Rights. "The so-called science here is a total departure from any ethics or any legitimate purpose. They are saying, 'This is how risky and harmful the procedure is, but we are still going to do it.' It just sounds like lunacy," he said. "This fine-tuning of torture is unethical, incompetent and a disgrace to medicine."