Christopher Hitchens gets waterboarded

Personally I’m not really a fan of Christopher Hitchens so I enjoyed this a little too much:

Late last year, the writer, polemicist and fierce proponent of the US-led invasion of Iraq Christopher Hitchens attempted, in a piece for the online magazine Slate, to draw a distinction between what he called techniques of “extreme interrogation” and “outright torture”.

From this, his foes inferred that since it was Hitchens’ belief that America did not stoop to the latter, the practice of waterboarding – known to be perpetrated by US forces against certain “high-value clients” in Iraq and elsewhere – must fall under the former heading.

Enraged by what they saw as an exercise in elegant but offensive sophistry, some of the writer’s critics suggested that Hitchens give waterboarding (which may sound like some kind of fun aquatic pastime, but is probably best summarised as enforced partial drowning) a whirl, just to see what it was like. Did the experience feel like torture?

And amazingly, he has done just that.

Comments (4)

  • avatar

    Reverend Clint

    I like Hitchens and am glad to see he thinks waterboarding is torture.

  • avatar


    What’s wrong with Hitchens? I though what he did with the water-boarding was brave to a fault, particularly given his physical condition – an athlete he is not. Sure, his views on Iraq appear to be against the prevailing wind but other than Iraq it is rare i find him saying something i disagree with. He can be a little aggressive with religious apologists, but who wouldn’t be after listening to the same empty nonsense as much as he has. Hitchens is always entertaining and i could listen to him talk about anything just to enjoy his mastery of the English language.

    Yours in Reason

    Sean (Ireland)

  • avatar


    I feel dirty just linking to it, but Freddy Gray at The American Conservative does make an interesting point:

    On the subject of Hitchens, I really enjoy reading everything he writes, even if I do wind up disagreeing with him some of the time.

  • avatar

    Ryan Harkness

    Heh, yeah it’s a funny juxtaposition, but it misses the point that these people are doing it because waterboarding has been boiled down to an argument: “Is it torture?” The government says it’s not. Numerous pundits who haven’t done it say it’s not. But i think you’d be hardpressed to find anyone who has experienced it that would agree with that viewpoint.

    It’s pretty much the pepsi challenge of torture. It’s kinda nice that some reporters are willing (sure, more for ratings than morality’s sake) to actually try something before expressing an opinion on it.

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