Activists perform waterboarding demonstration
Gulf War veteran Joe Tougas, dressed in Guantanamo Bay detention
camp garb, volunteered to be waterboarded during a demonstration
at UC Berkeley yesterday to demonstrate that the practice is a
severe form of inhumane torture.
Photos by John
November 15, 2007
Activists staged a waterboarding demonstration Wednesday at UC
Berkeley in response to newly appointed Attorney General Michael
Mukasey's claim that he does not know if waterboarding is torture
Mukasey said in October during his confirmation hearing that
he didn't know what was involved in the technique and that "If
waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional."
Waterboarding is a torture technique that simulates drowning
in a controlled environment. It consists of immobilizing an individual
on his or her back, with the head inclined downward, and pouring
water over the face to force the inhalation of water into the
Joe Tougas, a Gulf War veteran and member of the anti-war group
World Can't Wait, volunteered to play the part of a terror suspect
under interrogation and subjected to the drowning practice. He
was handcuffed, hooded and forced onto a wooden board. A towel
was placed over his face while five gallons of water was poured
over the towel to simulate waterboarding.
"It's probably one of the most invasive things I've ever
experienced," Tougas said. He described the experience as
"a sudden and total loss of control of your body."
To prevent actual drowning, a plastic sheath was placed underneath
the towel to prevent water from going through Tougas' nose and
mouth, and entering his lungs..
"Not being able to see, not being able to move, not being
able to breath while being upside down, and people are holding
you down and yelling and screaming at you, is an utterly horrifying
experience," Tougas said.
Mukasey was officially sworn in as the 81st US Attorney General
Wednesday. Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Dianne Feinstein
(D-CA) were among Mukasey's supporters.
During the confirmation hearing, Mukasey would not unequivocally
state whether he believed waterboarding should be condemned as
"There seems to be some confusion among our politicians,
the new Attorney General, and among a lot of journalists about
whether waterboarding is torture," said Giovanni Jackson,
a student organizer with World Can't Wait. "Some people describe
it as 'simulated drowning'. In fact what it is, is real drowning.
It's real torture. It's not an, 'enhanced' interrogation technique."
Giovanni Jackson, World
Jackson said Americans are "too passive" about speaking
out against anti-constitutional torture crimes committed by the
"Silence plus torture equals complicity," Jackson said.
"Far too many people in this country are complicit with what's
going on. We have to break out of our comfort zones. We have to
start confronting the reality of what our government is doing
and start acting on that."