Mancow gets waterboarded: “Absolutely torture. Absolutely. That’s drowning.”


Mancow Muller of Chicago’s Big 89, WLS-AM Mancow & Cassidy show, gets waterboarded to see what it’s like and shares it with listeners and viewers.

  • Kathryn Rebecca

    Holy. Shit.

    It even looks bad. For that small amount of time, with a small amount of water, to produce that effect on him… wow. How anyone can see that, and not think it’s torture, I have no idea.

  • Aimee

    Thank you for sharing that video.

  • Chris

    Because it’s not torture. There is no permanent or persistent physical or mental damage, therefore it is not torture.

    It’s extreme coercion, but that is different from torture.

    American servicemen are trained to survive and resist using this level of coercion, and beyond. Yes, it’s incredibly uncomfortable, unpleasant, even panic inducing; but it’s not torture.

    When the most pain you’ve ever experience in life is a papercut, or a bad breakup, then perhaps by your perspective something that bad is torture; but it is not. Your perspective is limited, and incorrect.

    Torture, is to be given pain so severe, that you cannot remember you are a person. That you don’t care what happens, so long as it stops. That you will betray everything down to the core of you if it will only stop. To be given that pain repeatedly, right to the point where you are about to pass out; and then be allowed to recover just enough that they can do it to you again. To be given that pain to the point that you will kill yourself, if they let you, rather than go through it again.

    THAT is torture.

    Of course in a society that’s become so weak and “sensitive” as this one, perhaps that is “torture”… just like it’s “torturing” a 16 year old girl to take away her cell phone.

    By calling this torture, you denigrate the suffering of those who truly were tortured; and you weaken the word, and the laws, and societal standards which are intended to prevent and punish it.

  • Stephen Gordon


    That’s a pretty imaginative definition of torture. The Geneva Convention, of which the US is a signatory participant, reads:

    “No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.”

  • Stephen Gordon

    US § 2340. Definitions…

    (1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
    (2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
    (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
    (B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
    (C) the threat of imminent death; or
    (D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and
    (3) “United States” means the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, and the commonwealths, territories, and possessions of the United States.

  • John Newman

    Please volunteer to have it done to you – 183 times.

  • Chris

    Stephen, look up the difference between a lawful prisoner of war, and an unlawful combatant.

    Or for that matter exactly what we are signatory to and what we are not, and why; but that’s another thing entirely. We actually ratified the ridiculous UN definition of torture, and then completely ignored it.

    Also, under 2340, waterboarding certainly does not qualify; as now three attorneys general have decided… though under the U.N. definition it MIGHT be considered torture, if it is done for the wrong reason (which is one of the reasons why I called it ridiculous).

    Unpleasant? Absolutely. The wrong thing to do to prisoners? Yes. Torture, no.

  • Chris

    Oh and a dunking chair? THAT’S torture. That is the threat of death, unquestionably.

    Waterboarding makes you panic and feel like you are dying, but you know that you are not. In fact, they tell you specifically that you aren’t going to die; but that you will feel like you are. It actually heightens the effect.

    You don’t care that you aren’t actually going to die; you just want it to stop. But under the law, nothing is actually hurting or killing you, or threatening you or anyone else with being hurt or killed. It’s all about causing you to panic, and breaking you down emotionally.

    It’s no different in actual effect to a prosecutor threatening you, your family, your business, your friends etc… with jail to get you to confess.

    Is it wrong? Yes.

    Is it torture, no.

    Words can be important. Torture is a word that it is important not to dilute.

  • Chris

    Perhaps this will make my point more clearly:

    “The word FASCISM has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies “something not desirable.”

    The words DEMOCRACY, SOCIALISM, FREEDOM, PATRIOTIC, REALISTIC, JUSTICE, have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another.

    In the case of a word like DEMOCRACY, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides.

    It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of régime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning.

    Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.”

    — Eric Arthur Blair, a.k.a. George Orwell in “Politics and the English Language”

    Waterboarding is coercion, and coercion is bad; torture is worse.

  • wilder

    Mancow said later on his show that he would have said ANYTHING for them to stop the torture. ANYTHING.

    Guess that pretty much proves it’s completely useless for getting accurate information…just like those who DID the torture of terrorists have been telling us.

    Makes you proud to be an American, knowing we do that to people, huh? Maybe we could cut off some heads on video, too. Really prove how great our system of beliefs are, that old-fashioned stuff that Washington and Jefferson invented.

    This video of Mancow also proves Dick Cheney is the same lying coward he was back during Vietnam, when he got those five deferments so others could do all the fighting and dying for his country.

    Thanks, DICK. You made America a country that TORTURES PEOPLE, instead of what it used to be for 200 years: A country that CONVICTED and HANGED TORTURERS.

  • Stephen Gordon


    We try pirates in US courts.

  • Chris Byrne

    And according to the traditional law of the sea (which is still in force, except where superseded by the LOST), we should simply execute them on capture.

    Personally, I have no problem with that, in the case of frank piracy, when caught in the act.

  • tarran


    Of course waterboarding is torture – even by the watered down definition you use; it will cause severe, possibly debilitating PTSD.
    Servicemen undergoing SERE training know that the pain will be over in a few hours, and retain a sense of control.
    A prisoner, on the other hand, has zero control and is helpless. The pain can continue indefinitely. Hence the mental trauma. And I can assure you based on my experience living with someone suffering from PTSD that it is very serious, and very debilitating.

  • Eric Dondero

    Okay, let’s assume you Girlie Men win this battle. Let’s assume you manage to outlaw water splashing as a form of “torture.”

    Does that mean all comparable training methods will now be banned by the US Military for recruits?

    No more gassings and removing of one’s gas mask for 10 seconds?

    No more waterboarding training for Navy Seals?

    No more running 20 laps around the track when you piss off the Sarge?

    Ban on sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups?

    Where does it end?

    I wanna know, just where is it that you water-boarding opponents draw the line? Will you be happy and shut the fuck up after this one? Or, will just continue and deem every single masculine activity or any activity that causes a little pain in life, to be “torture”?

    Bet not a single one of you Weenies here will answer that question. Cause you know damned well, it completely destroys your entire argument.

  • Eric Dondero

    How many of you here are old enough to remember the brief War with Panama in 1989?

    If you do remember, you’ll recall that it was Heavy Metal music, that eventually flushed out Noriega from his palace in Panama City. For three nights, 24 hours a day, US Troops shined extremely bright lights onto the Palace, and blared Motorhead, Scorpions, Thrash Metal, and bad ’80s Hair Bands at extremely high decibels from boom boxes.

    Eventually, a weary Noriega emerged. He was overheard screaming to the arresting Troops: “Bastante, Bastante, pinch diablos blancos… Bastante.” (Enough! you fuckin’ white devels… Enough!)

    Now, fast forward to politically correct-obsessed 2009.

    Would such a tactic be permitted to be used by US Forces today?

    I wanna know, do you all here, view Heavy Metal music as a form of “torture?”

    Be honest. I mean if you deem splashing water on someone’s face as “torture,” than surely blasting HM has got to be torture, as well.

    And will you so-called “Libertarians,” be in favor of banning Metallica, next?

  • Akston

    Let’s go the other way.

    Would it be okay for the interrogator to start snipping off, then cauterizing body parts? How about consulting the techniques of the Spanish Inquisition or Germany’s National Socialists? Could we locate a suspect’s family and rape and kill them? How about the other people in their village?

    Maybe we could fly a plane into one of their buildings…

    Is there a point at which we lose the high ground?

    Sources I’ve read tend to agree that information gathering is about time constraints. The most effective interrogation techniques require time to gain the trust of the suspect. Less effective techniques like sleep deprivation, requiring the suspect to stand for several hours at a time, holding the suspect naked and wet at 50 degrees, and water boarding tend to produce information the suspect thinks the interrogator wants to hear, true or not.

    And, at best, all of these techniques only gain intelligence from a suspected enemy. Investigative and third party methods can yield intelligence that is much more current and untainted by a prisoner’s interests or duress.

    Is this about obtaining the most effective intelligence, or assuaging a need for vengeance?

    If it’s vengeance, fine. Have the balls to admit that.

  • Eric Dondero

    No, let’s not go the other way. Answer my fucking question first asshole.


    A simple yes or no will do.

  • Eric Dondero

    If you all believe water splashing is torture, than you MUST! be consistent. You must then ban:

    Water ballooning
    Dodge ball
    All college hazing
    All military hazing such as Shellback initiation
    Sleep deprivation
    Bad food
    & Physical activity such as push ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, running laps, ect…

  • Eric Dondero

    It’s about both: obtaining information and vengeance.

    They inflict their wrath on us, we need to hit them back 10 times fucking harder.

    You know when Russian KBG Agents were caught by Radical Islamists in Lebanon, Iran and Afghanistan in the 1980s, and killed and tortured, you know what the Ruskies did? They’d come in to the village of those who killed their Agent, and killed every member of the offenders family.

    They’d even sometimes cut off the genitals of Terrorists they caught who had killed and tortured their men, and sent the genitals in a package back home to their families.

    We need a little more Masculinity in our culture, and a little less Girlie-manism.

    Old Mafia saying: “You fucka widt me, I fucka widt you, your family, and every one in your village.”

  • Akston

    No. I do not deem Heavy Metal to be torture.

    But just like torture, it is also unreliable, potentially inhumane (if used for sleep deprivation), and can only glean dubious information that is almost immediately out of date as of the prisoner’s capture.

    When looking for effective intelligence, there are much more reliable, effective, and ethical ways to obtain it than torturing prisoners.

    So, care to “answer my fucking question, asshole?”

    Is this about effectively getting information to defend the country, or about a need for vengeance?

  • Akston

    Well, to the degree it’s about vengeance and wanting to hear them scream, might I suggest that a true libertarian would seek out an S&M club where he could work out his particular tastes with voluntary partners?

    And if I stipulate that you’re so very manly that you’ll likely expire of testosterone poisoning within the year, can we back away from committing the United States to acting exactly like the enemies we despise?

  • Eric Dondero

    And how would you know what “true libertarian” means Akston? Hell, you can’t even post on a website under your full name.

    True libertarians get out there and bust their ass for the libertarian movement like I have done for the past 25 years. So, don’t you dare start preaching to me, what is and what is not “true libertarian.”

    I never ran into you out on the Libertarian Party petitioning trail. But then again, how would I know, since you post under an assumed on-line name?

  • Horatio

    Malone: You said you wanted to get Capone. Do you really wanna get him? You see what I’m saying is, what are you prepared to do?
    Ness: Anything within the law.
    Malone: And *then* what are you prepared to do? If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way. Because they’re not gonna give up the fight, until one of you is dead.
    Ness: I want to get Capone! I don’t know how to do it.
    Malone: You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That’s* the *Chicago* way! And that’s how you get Capone. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that? I’m offering you a deal. Do you want this deal?
    Ness: I have sworn to capture this man with all legal powers at my disposal and I will do so.
    Malone: Well, the Lord hates a coward.
    [jabs Ness with his hand, and Ness shakes it]
    Malone: Do you know what a blood oath is, Mr. Ness?
    Ness: Yes.
    Malone: Good, ’cause you just took one.

  • Joshua Holmes

    Dondero is a pervert.

  • tarran

    Hey Joshua, are you guys ever going to reactivate no-treason?

  • Joshua Holmes

    Good question. I haven’t heard from Kennedy in a while.

  • alec

    It’s sad this even has to be a debate. Apart from the Geneva Convention and common decency, waterboarding and torture in general is one of the most unproductive methods of gathering information. So if it tarnishes our image, goes against the law, and doesn’t yield worthwhile information… why are we even having this conversation?

  • Eric

    Interesting discussion. Chris has a very valid point about altering the meaning of the language. He also points out that waterboarding is a form of coercion and that coercion should not be used on prisoners. But, in the heated and traumatic rejection of his assertions about what torture is, the more important point he makes is lost.

    The point is, coercive interrogation is wrong to do to someone who we hold prisoner. Chris said that loud and clear, but folks are so incensed that he might not agree that something is torture that they miss the fundamentally more important point. Another fundamentally important issue, if you believe in The Rule of Law, is that we don’t have clear laws on what to do with terrorist combatants and that poses a problem. One of the keys to solving the problems of piracy in the 17th and 18th centuries was to promulgate clear, consistent, logically and legally sound laws and regulations for dealing with pirates.

    We don’t have that for terrorists today, and that’s a problem.

    P.S. adding to the point about use of language. We used to know that torture meant causing permanent injury to someone. When we talked about the police giving someone the “third degree”, it meant physically injuring someone to coerce them to do something. The reason we said “third degree” is that there were three levels of Inquisition used during the Catholic Inquisition.

    1. 1st Degree – Discussing the crimes someone is accused of and informing them that stronger methods of inquisition can be used if they don’t cooperate
    2. 2nd Degree – Showing the accused person the methods that can be used, like racks, knives, flails and other implements of torture
    3. 3rd Degree – Actually using those implements on the accused person, i.e. the Third Degree of Inquisition.

    So, the very tortured definitions of torture that folks are trying to come up are actually changing the meanings of the language in ways that support the individual’s position. This is something that Orwell argued strenuously against and that most “libertarians” argue against, as well. Except, it seems, when being for it supports their personal beliefs.

    Causing PTSD does not automatically make something torture. PTSD can be caused by a car accident, by seeing your sibling die, by participating in violent combat and many other things. None of which are “torture”. I suggest that we should return to the traditional definition that doing things which would be considered “the third degree” is torture. Let’s use the language right. AND we can still agree that things which are not torture, but are inhumane or coercive, or both, are wrong for US interrogators to do to our prisoners.

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