'Waterboarding is pouring water on your face, I’ve seen real torture' - Ex-UFC fighter Tim Kennedy
Kennedy, who retired from professional sports following his knockout loss to Kelvin Gastelum in 2016, has hit the headlines once again, this time for suggesting that the practice known as ‘waterboarding’ should not be considered torture.
International law, however, disagrees with Kennedy’s view on waterboarding. All signatories to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, including the United States, are expressly prohibited from participating in waterboarding.
Nonetheless, Kennedy was keen to make a distinction between this and what he considers to be actual torture techniques.
“A lot of people have been talking about torture and about waterboarding and what it is that we as a nation have been doing, morally [or] immorally, but they don’t know anything. They just have an opinion,” Kennedy said in an interview with TMZ.
“It feels like you are drowning. It feels like it, but you’re not. Drowning is when water goes into your lungs, right? When you’re at a 15-degree angle, water is going in and pooling in the cavity of your sinuses, not going into your lungs."
“It is an uncomfortable thing but it is an effective thing,” he said.
Kennedy says he is keen to make the distinction because of incidents he saw while serving as an active member of the US Armed Forces.
“I have seen torture firsthand,” Kennedy explained. “I have found people with no fingers. I have seen people with their breasts cut off. I have seen people with their eyelids slit open so they could watch their own families being murdered. That is torture. This is water being poured on your face.
“When you start lobbing words that you don’t understand what they mean – but I understand what they mean because I have seen them – you are ignorant and you don’t know the difference.”
The American insists that waterboarding “doesn’t do any damage” to the person it is being inflicted upon, but it has been noted by human rights watchdogs that it can produce severe psychological damage, as well as several physical injuries related to being restrained.
Kennedy, an American Green Beret and former UFC middleweight contender, is no stranger to controversy.
More than a year ago, Kennedy was criticized for comments he made regarding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, in which he appeared to make light of people who suffer from the condition and implied that people who are affected by it are “making a choice” to do so.
Waterboarding is a tactic that he been used in interrogation by various cultures since at least the mid-1970s. It is conducted by restraining a person on their back at an angle between 10 and 20 degrees. A thin material is then placed over their mouth and head, and water is poured over the mouth and nose to simulate the sensation of drowning.