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15 May, 2018 01:54

'Torture & war crimes': Former Gitmo detainee challenges waterboarding-apologist Green Beret

Waterboarding is an illegal and torturous practice, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee told RT after one Green Beret tried to justify the enhanced interrogation technique in support of Gina Haspel's CIA appointment.

"This kind of notion of a decent torture; or it is only torture when we say it is when it affects us; is complete hypocrisy and it opposes, more importantly, the international law, which outlaws torture completely, and says that not only physical torture outlawed but also psychological torture for the use of or to force confession out of people," Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee told RT.

The use of the highly controversial waterboarding technique to obtain confessions from terrorist suspects has come under increased scrutiny amid the ongoing debate on Capitol Hill about Donald Trump's pick to head the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). While Gina Haspel's nomination attracted controversy, particularly because of her role as chief of a CIA black site in Thailand, where, in 2002, she ran the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Program authorized by George W. Bush in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, one courageous Green Beret rushed to demonstrate that waterboarding was nothing extraordinary and no more torturous than a "baptism."

After live-streaming his 45-minute-long waterboarding experiment on Facebook on Friday, where the average "pour" lasted up to 60 seconds, Tim Kennedy, a special forces sniper and a professional MMA fighter, unconditionally concluded that the controversial technique is "not torture!!!!"

"Hell we had elk tacos and wine afterward," the 41-year-old commented on his stream, voicing support of the "amazing hero" Haspel who is under the spotlight for administering this highly controversial interrogation technique. "If I can change one person's mind about what torture is and what I would do to protect American freedom, I will do this for years."

The assessment of a Green Beret, however, failed to convince the former Guantanamo Bay detainee, who believes that the drowning experience, where one's mouth and nose are covered while large quantities of water are poured over their face, is nothing short of torture.

"Many people can withstand different types of torture. For example, I know that an individual can bear the pain of having his arms twisted or having a fingernail pulled out, compared to others who can't. But it is not based on the individual's ability to be able to take that torture or not. It is according to the definition of the law," Begg told RT.

While Haspel told Senators Wednesday that she would not reinstate the brutal torture program she helped implement, the 61-year-old appeared to have failed to provide a definitive answer as to the effectiveness of the program.

"She, repeatedly, four times, was asked to say whether the waterboarding that happened under her watch by her colleagues, whether it was immoral and unconscionable, she refused to answer," Begg recalled. "And if she condemns torture, then essentially she will be speaking against her president who is essentially saying not only does he believe in torture, but he would do waterboarding a lot more."

"I don't believe that torture works," Haspel said in reply to Democratic California Senator Kamala Harris, who asked if the CIA nominee agrees with Donald Trump's statement where he "asserted that torture works."

Moments later, Haspel, however, rushed to clarify that the CIA's methods in general in the aftermath of 9/11 were effective. "I believe that in the CIA's program, and I'm not attributing this to enhanced interrogation techniques … valuable information was obtained from senior Al-Qaeda operatives," she told the hearing.

"Is that a yes?" Harris asked. "No, it's not a yes. We got valuable information from the debriefing of Al-Qaeda detainees, and I don't think it's knowable whether interrogation techniques played a role in that," Haspel replied.

Begg, however, recalled that the practice of waterboarding goes back to the Spanish Inquisition. In modern history, the practice was also used by a number of authoritarian regimes to obtain information.

"This technique throughout history was used by people like Khmer Rouge [in Cambodia], like the Gestapo of Hitler [Germany], like the Pinochet [in Chile], like the South African apartheid regime," Begg told RT. "And interesting during World War II Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American GIs at the end of the war were prosecuted and then executed for war crimes."

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