Hitch Gets Waterboarded and Lives to Tell About It

Christopher Hitchens had himself waterboarded. As someone said, if he really expected it to be torture then he wouldn’t have done it. Would he have volunteered for bamboo shoots under the finger nails? No. The story is here. The music might have been the worst part of the whole thing. Steve Harrigan did the same thing. They gave him a much worse time than Hitch had and he didn’t whine about it. They did worse things and more ruthlessly to my dad when he joined a frat in the 50s.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. It’s nothing compared to the ROE (rules of engagement) that our soldiers are required to abide by that often ends up in not only their injury or death but those of their team. “wait, wait, I need to tie one of your hands behind your back and one of your legs to your rear. There now, go get ’em”

  2. If it is so benign, then why, in a war crimes tribunal, was a Japanese soldier sentenced to 15 years hard labor in 1947 for waterboarding a US civilian? I am agnostic about the method since I haven’t studied it, but the history of its use seems to warrant a little less flippancy.

  3. Hi Eliza,

    Not that I doubt your claim, but can you give us a lead toward finding out more about this? I am aware that the Japanese used quite brutal torture tactics but I’ve never read that they practiced waterboarding or that anyone has been convicted by a tribunal for practicing it.

    I’m not flippant about waterboarding, just Hitch and his stunt.

  4. Here’s some further info:
    Marine Brig. Gen. John F. Kinney’s book, “Wake Island Pilot: A World War II Memoir” (1995) recounts the use of waterboarding against Americans on Wake Island.

    I would trust Hitchens as far as I can throw him, so his opinion/publicity stunt does nothing to convince me of anything. I would only rely on primary sources for information. I did see the NPR article which I found thought-provoking.

  5. Christopher Hitchens, the atheist, is the pro-war, kill-them-all-(fundamentalist zealots)-let-God-sort-them-out fellow.

    His brother, the CSLewis-ish-Christian, Peter, is considerably less belligerent, and is publicly against the current conflicts.

    CH did his deal, because he was tired of people telling him he shouldn’t whitewash what he had no real knowledge of.

    Personally, I don’t like CH in his obnoxious manner; his belligerent, emotional, and illogical hostility to religion in general and Christianity in particular; and his support of the current conflicts.

    What we should respect is his willingness to put his previous lax and permissive/dismissive attitude toward waterboarding to the test.

    It helps to know where various people are coming from to start with, before knee-jerk reactions to their positions.

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