Talk Radio Host Undergoes Waterboarding; Admits It Is Torture


Waterboarding is a form of torture in which the victim is given the sensation of drowning. Many conservatives have downplayed the technique, even claiming it is not torture. The average person can tolerate waterboarding for fourteen seconds. One might think that if someone actually knows they won’t be drowned, and if they have the ability to have it stopped whenever they want, they might be able to hold out for even longer. Conservative talk radio host WLS radio host Erich “Mancow” Muller underwent waterboarding, hoping to prove it is not torture (video above). He lasted lasted than seven seconds:

Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop.  He only lasted 6 or 7 seconds.

“It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that’s no joke,”Mancow said, likening it to a time when he nearly drowned as a child.  “It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back…It was instantaneous…and I don’t want to say this: absolutely torture.”

“I wanted to prove it wasn’t torture,” Mancow said.  “They cut off our heads, we put water on their face…I got voted to do this but I really thought ‘I’m going to laugh this off.’ “

Last year, Vanity Fair writer Christopher Hitchens endured the same experiment — and came to a similar conclusion. The conservative writer said he found the treatment terrifying, and was haunted by it for months afterward.

“Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture,” Hitchens concluded in the article.

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  1. 1
    Mike says:

    Yes, torture is immoral and a warcrime. But does pouring water on someone’s face rise to the level of torture?  People who tout so often being scientific, what kind of scientific research determined that waterboarding was immoral?  Some attention seeking radio guy came up with proof in less than ten seconds.   Some people might find riding a rollercoaster was torture, shall we outlaw rollercoasters?  Hey, all who don’t want others to try to impose sexual morals on anybody, now those same people want to call the shots on what is immoral in interrogating terrorists.  These guys were not physically harmed in any way.  I guess we could just leave it up to the individual, if a detainee claims that being served chocolate cake is torture to them, then we better had go and get them stawberry cake.    I’m not saying there should be no standards or can’t be standards, but where is the scientific proof that a physically harmless activity rises to the level of torture?  Be happy to hear from any moral relativists out there on that one.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    There might not be any way to “scientifically”  prove that something is torture but we have examples here of people who did not consider it to be torture who changed their minds after experiencing it.

    There is also legal precedent for considering waterboarding to be torture. The United States did convict Japanese after World War II for subjecting American prisoners to waterboarding. There have also been other convictions for using waterboarding in US courts.

  3. 3
    Mike says:

    One thing that I wanted, but never got while in the military was S.E.R.E training.  Now I reget it even more as I can’t speak first hand on the waterboarding part.  I talked to my brother in law today (Saturday) who I knew went through it.  His experience differed in two respects from what was displayed in the video.  He said his whole face was covered with a wet T-shirt , which worked to a degree as a barrier from water going down your throat.  Thus in that respect, one could say my brother in-law’s treatment was perhaps less severe and/or dangerous than what the talk show host went through.  The other difference was that a hose was used to administer the water rather than a pitcher.  Interesting is despite me asking point blank if he considered it torture, he chose not to say yes or no.  He did emphasize how very scarey it was particularly in that one gets it with no warning or explanation of what is happening or going to happen.  He also said,  (and I’m paraphrasing) that you can actually breath during the hosing but your body seems to convince you that you can’t which naturally puts you in a kind of panic.   Now, given I can’t validate my source’s claims, let me ask all or anyone in the abstract:  If there was something that was known to likely cause temporary moments of “mental terror” that one was not going to be physically harmed, would that be in your opinion immoral?  I know there could be an debate on how temporary something perceived as a tramatic event is.  In my unscientific analysis of the video, the radio guy seemed to have regained his composer quite rapidly in talking about it.  

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Torture does not necessarily mean permanent harm. What I find interesting about these cases of people testing it, and not tolerating waterboarding, is that they could not tolerate it even under these circumstances. Waterboarding gives the sensation of drowning without actually drowning the victim. If it was simply a means of fooling people into thinking they were drowning, then theoretically those who subject themselves to a test (with the motivation of trying to prove it is not torture) would be able to withstand it for a while as they know they are not drowning. Instead we have these examples of people who had motivation to withstand it longer to prove their point, and who know they are not going to drown, still not being able to tolerate it. If people such as these change their position after experiencing it and say it is torture this presents a pretty strong case that it is.

  5. 5
    Christoher Skyi says:

    Yup, it simulates drowning. Hard to believe he didn’t expect this: your conscious brain might “know” that you really won’t drown, but every other part of your body acts like you. Guess who wins? 

    If it makes Erich “Mancow” Muller feel any better — waterboarding isn’t the worse thing that you can do to a person: I can last listening to “Mancow” for only 4 seconds.

  6. 6
    Christoher Skyi says:

    P.S. you just know this is going to be some dumb reality show contest, seeing who can set and break records . . . hey! maybe the Japanese!

    er . . . ah, on second thought, maybe not . . .

  7. 7
    lies lies lies says:

    “Pouring water on someone’s face” isn’t torture, and isn’t waterboarding, and doesn’t make anybody talk.  Pouring water in someone’s face, in a manner specifically intended to prevent them from breathing, is waterboarding, and torture.  It also is drowning, except for the technicality that they stop before you die.  This has been settled for centuries, until Cheney decided the rules don’t apply to him.

    [T]he contract of indemnification that I had signed … (written by one who knew) stated revealingly:

    “Water boarding” is a potentially dangerous activity in which the participant can receive serious and permanent (physical, emotional and psychological) injuries and even death, including injuries and death due to the respiratory and neurological systems of the body.

    As the agreement went on to say, there would be safeguards provided “during the ‘water boarding’ process, however, these measures may fail and even if they work properly they may not prevent Hitchens from experiencing serious injury or death.”

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