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History Of Water Torture

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In its broadest sense, water torture simply relates to a wide array oftechniques that incorporate torture while using water. Torture is defined by entities like the United Nations as a willful infliction of extreme suffering or pain to influence a person's behavior in such a way to extract something from him or her, like information.

The technique of water torture has a long-standing history. This technique actually dates back to the middle ages. Though there are modern forms of torture and extracting information from persons, some countries in the world still employ the water torture routine on persons.

What is Water Torture?

Water torture can also be called waterboarding, which is a technique that involves water poured all over the face of an individual. The purpose of this type of water torture is to simulate the instinctive feeling and, consequently, fear of drowning in the individual. Oftentimes, this procedure incorporates the use of a wet towel or cloth right inside the subject of the individual. This has the effect of producing the impression that he or she are drowning all the more.

Awareness of water torture has increased in the last few years, thanks to the media's focus on the George W. Bush Administration and the War on Terror. Waterboarding terrorists, while decried by both Democrats as well as some human rights groups, has actually been credited with obtaining vital and valuable intelligence that has led to the disruption of numerous terror attacks against the U.S. and even the information that led to the Navy Seal team killing of Osama bin Laden.

What is it used for?

Water torture is used primarily to extract information from an individual that otherwise would not be given up by said individual. The purpose of water torture is to create the impression of drowning in the individual on which it is used. As a result, psychologically, the victim feels like he or she is being drowned, because it is an instinctive fear. Physically, the water torture technique will produce instances of significant coughing or choking on the individual, as he or she struggles with the water that is dripping on his or her face. People who are waterboarded usually do not have any lingering, physical injuries from this technique.

Where did it originate?

Waterboarding originated as far back as the middle ages. Specifically, it can be traced back to the time of the Spanish Inquisition, where it was called toca. The waterboarding version of the Spanish Inquisition involved stuffing a piece of cloth into the individual's mouth and forcing him or her to ingest some water, creating the illusion of drowning. Colonial times also saw the use of waterboarding, and American prisoners prior to World War II felt the harshness of water torture even in some American prisons like New York's Sing Sing prison.

Throughout the years, waterboarding and water torture in general has also turned up in events such as World War II, the Vietnam War, the Algerian War, Chile under the regime of Pinochet, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, Northern Ireland and South Africa during the apartheid problem.

Is water torture still used today?

Water torture is still used today in some countries around the world. With regards to the U.S., the technique of water torture (waterboarding) has been officially outlawed by the administration of Barack Obama since 2009; however, in the same year, the U.S. Department of Defense rejected confirming one way or another whether water torture is still used on its own military personnel in the form of SERE purposes, which is a form of military training.

Water boarding has gained a lot of media attention and, consequently, broader awareness among the public because of dedication by the media to spotlight its use under the George W. Bush Administration. After the terror attacks of 9/11, the Bush Administration used the technique (although they later banned its use) to get information from terrorists such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaida. Congressman Peter King of New York, who sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (which is charged with overseeing the U.S. intelligence community), has verified that the waterboarding technique has actually gotten information that has stopped attacks on the U.S. homeland.

According to a report on the O'Reilly Factor, at least five U.S. officials - former CIA chief George Tenet (a Democrat), former George W. Bush Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Stephen Hadley, former George W. Bush National Security Advisor, current CIA head Leon Panetta (a Democrat), and former CIA director under George W. Bush, Michael Hayden - have all confirmed that essential, anti-terror information was obtained from waterboarding.

To learn more about waterboarding, hit these links.

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