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What is water boarding?

Vietnam, 1968: A U.S. soldier questions an enemy suspect using a water-boarding technique.

Photo courtesy United Press International

Like the sensations of falling that haunt our nightmares, dreams of drowning snap us awake with a shudder. But for some prisoners, there's no waking up from that unimaginably terrifying feeling of the water pulling you under. That's because water boarding is a form of torture, one that the CIA has said that it used on more than one occasion.

If you can imagine lying on an inclined board with your hands and feet bound, your face covered and water being poured repeatedly over your face, then maybe you have the slightest understanding of what this brutal interrogation technique entails.

Water boarding was one of several torture-related issues that may have prompted President Bush to assert that the United States doesn't practice torture, but the world probably thought otherwise in 2008. Maybe that's why both the Republican and Democratic candidates for the U.S. presidency pledged to shut down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

Ev­en if that happens, we probably haven't heard the last of water boarding. As our article What is water boarding?­ points out, the technique has been around for centuries and probably will linger like a bad dream for many more.

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