Waterboarding: is it a slam dunk?

If youre a US talk radio host and youve got the vice-president on your station, youre going to put a few listeners questions to him, right?

Right. Well thats what Scott Hennen did on station WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota, back in October 2006.

One especially interesting question came up. "Would you agree, asked Scott, that a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?" Without missing a beat, the second most powerful man in the world came back with: "Well, it's a no-brainer for me.

What did Mr Cheney mean? And what was the question even about?

Unless youve been living under a rock for the last six and half years (you havent, have you?) youll know that Dick Cheney and President George Bush have spent the lions share of their two-term presidency engaged in what they call the war on terror.

And so, though I may be a mile out here, I reckon its pretty damned clear that saving lives in current US political parlance means making America safe from the threat of terrorists and other evil-doers. And a dunk in the water unless Im still right off the mark is an unmistakeable reference to waterboarding torture, where prisoners are subjected to the experience of partial drowning to terrify them into submission.

Now Im certainly all for defeating terrorism, but waterboarding?

If youve been paying attention to the murkier end of where the war on terror has taken us these past few years Abu Ghraib, Lynndie England, rendition, Bagram, black site prisons, Guantánamo Bay, not to mention our very own 42 days detention without charge proposals youll know that yet another shocker is the CIAs use of waterboarding.

Allegations (followed by official CIA admissions) have been leaking out for a couple of years. Mr Cheney was just getting a (soft) question about it on a local radio station. Ok, give him the benefit of the doubt. Why would dunking or submerging a prisoners head in water be ok anyway?

Yes, it can be very interesting when you get a senior politician on live radio.

So, before you click away from this blog (how could you?), check out our brand new 90-second waterboarding film. Its called Stuff Of Life. (You know, water.) As the CIA have notoriously junked hundreds of hours of tapes from their war on terror interrogations, weve gone to the trouble of recreating a waterboarding scenario. Its in Picturehouse cinemas from 9 May (cert 15) and were billing it The film the CIA doesnt want you to see.

Its picked up today by the Independent and the Metro, among others.

My advice: watch Stuff Of Life, stick the film player on your site (get the embed code from our Unsubscribe site), email the link to your entire address book, and then take action through our Unsubscribe campaign (follow home page prompts). Ok, one thing at a time!

But, be warned: the film starts off like a fun cinema ad for a fahionable brand of spirits. Then it turns nasty. Its vodka with a twist.

See you,


About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
View latest posts