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OLC Torture Memos Prove that Waterboarding is Drowning

I’m just starting, along with everyone else, to work through the OLC torture memos. Here are a few things I’ve found so far about waterboarding.

One note before presenting passages from the memos. Previous public descriptions, as far as I recall, have suggested that plastic wrap was used to prevent water actually getting into the prisoner’s lungs. There is no mention of use of anything other than a cloth in the waterboard passages I’ve found so far.

First, here is a passage from pages 3 and 4 of Bybee’s August 1, 2002 memo:

Notable statements are that the "The inidividual does not breathe any water into his lungs" and "…it is likely that this procedure would not last more than 20 minutes in any one application."

Now let’s look at the Bradbury Memo from May 30, 2005. Here is a passage from page 15:

Note that now we can have people on the board for up to two hours, with up to six applications of water on five days over a 30 day period. How did they go from 20 minutes to two hours and come up with such arbitrary numbers for the number of times a person can be waterboarded? Does torture occur only once these thresholds are exceeded?

Now let’s look at page 31:

This is full evidence that the CIA medical staff knew that waterboarding is actually drowning, not simulated drowning: "With the waterboard, the interrogators use potable saline rather than plain water so that detainees will not suffer from hyponatremia and to minimize the risk of pneumonia." Pneumonia is only a risk if the water is getting into the lungs. This is an admission that water is getting into the lungs. That is drowning. This is also in direct contradiction to the statement in the Bybee memo that water does not enter the lungs.

Here is on hyponatremia:

Hyponatremia occurs when the sodium in your blood is diluted by excess water. Hyponatremia may result from medical conditions that impair excretion of water from your body, or by a significant increase in water consumption, such as by athletes competing in marathons and other high-endurance events.

Relying on saline to prevent hyponatremia shows that the prisoners also were swallowing very large amounts of water while being waterboarded. That has not been discussed much in the descriptions I have seen coming from the government previously.

This was composed rapidly. I will correct errors during the edit time if they are pointed out in comments.

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Jim White

Jim White

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