The Blog

The Rules of Waterboarding

11:07 AM, Apr 24, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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When you rely on somebody named "emptywheel" for your news, you're unlikely to get a straight story. But when emptywheel "reported" that KSM had been waterboarded 183 times, he/she failed to convey what precisely that meant.

In response, Cliff May reports the rules of waterboarding:

According to two sources, both of them very well-informed and reliable (but preferring to remain anonymous), the 180-plus times refers not to sessions of waterboarding, but to "pours" - that is, to instances of water being poured on the subject.

Under a strict set of rules, every pour of water had to be counted - and the number of pours was limited.

Also: Waterboarding interrogation sessions were permitted on no more than five days within any 30-day period.

No more than two sessions were permitted in any 24-hour period.

A session could last no longer than two hours.

There could be at most six pours of water lasting ten seconds or longer - and never longer than 40 seconds - during any individual session.

Water could be poured on a subject for a combined total of no more than 12 minutes during any 24 hour period.

To call this torture, particularly when done to an individual like KSM, diminishes the very real torture employed by the regimes that U.S. troops have toppled and the rogue states like North Korea and Iran that continue to violate basic human rights.