Waterboarding in Vietnam
A reader writes:
I just came across this description of waterboarding in the Vietnam photographer Tim Page's autobiography, "Page After Page," (Antheneum 1989). He goes down to film some Marines near Tam Ky in 1965:
"An M-48 tank stewed up at the unit's headquarters in a gutted school house and Marines threw three VC bodies off the engine deck, followed by a prisoner. The poor bruised black-pyjama clad peasant bounced heavily, his arms roped back by the elbows. The bodies lay grotesquely flopped at the top of the dyke. I tracked back round the other side of the ruined house, where the local ARVN liaison laddie and his policeman buddy were treating the VC to the sensation of drowning on dry land. The Marines gawked on.
They had the suspect half in the water of the adjoining paddy, bent back, a rag over his face. The interpreter hissed questions as he poured filthy water from a dented canteen cup into the mouth and nose of the struggling prisoner. They topped him up to the bursting point, straightening him up, and zapped him in the gut. Vomit and blood spewed through the cloth, the rest he swallowed. They started again. My presence was unremarked and I crept closer to the tortured one's face, widening the lens, a mike virtually playing to the camera. It was almost too much, it was beyond control; I backed away, film still running. The man revealed no information."
A few years ago I would have read right past this passage without blinking (that alone says something sad). Now it jumps out at me.
I'm relieved the Marines merely "gawked on", while their Vietnamese allies did the torture. The difference with today is that the president of the United States now authorizes this AVRN torture to be performed by Americans. And John Podhoretz, Jonah Goldberg and Mark Steyn find it funny.