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Friday, November 12, 2010 

Let's hear it for the Sun!

Last night on Question Time Douglas Murray argued that waterboarding, rather than constituting torture, was instead on the "borderline" and a "grey area". One person in the audience challenged him to undergo the technique and then see whether he still believed that to be the case.

While Murray, sadly, seems unlikely to take up the offer, the Sun's Oliver Harvey did volunteer to try it. His account doesn't quite reach the same literary heights as Christopher Hitchens' when he experienced the practice and then wrote about it for Vanity Fair, although it's still compelling reading. Harvey's verdict?

This is no "interrogation technique" but torture pure and simple with no place in a civilised society.

Harvey lasted 12 seconds before he made his "interrogators" stop. Hitchens could only tolerate being slowly drowned for a similar amount of time, although he lasted slightly longer when he underwent it again shortly afterwards at his own insistence. Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee upon whom waterboarding was used by the US with the explicit permission of President Bush, had it performed on him 83 times in one month. The only shame is that the Sun, rather than passing a leader comment on Harvey going beyond the ordinary call of journalistic duty instead focused on Muslims Against Crusades, without mentioning how the group ensured the media knew about their demonstration by sending them press releases beforehand. Can't have it all though, can we?

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