Some truths that were once not disputed by civilized people:

The media usually characterize the practice as "simulated drowning." That's incorrect. To be effective, waterboarding is usually real drowning that simulates death.

That is, the victim experiences the sensations of drowning: struggle, panic, breath-holding, swallowing, vomiting, taking water into the lungs and, eventually, the same feeling of not being able to breathe that one experiences after being punched in the gut. The main difference is that the drowning process is halted. According to those who have studied waterboarding's effects, it can cause severe psychological trauma, such as panic attacks, for years.

The United States knows quite a bit about waterboarding. The U.S. government -- whether acting alone before domestic courts, commissions and courts-martial or as part of the world community -- has not only condemned the use of water torture but has severely punished those who applied it.

So "quaint" this idea of the rule of law. So nebulous this concept of American decency.

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