The Use of Waterboarding by The Us Government after 9/11

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1481 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Nov 15, 2018

Words: 1481|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Nov 15, 2018

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The use of waterboarding in the US
  3. Arguments for Waterboarding
  4. Arguments Against Waterboarding
  5. Conclusion


Waterboarding has been a tactic used for extracting information out of suspects for hundreds of years. Though recently it has been seen has a problem by media outlets and the general public. Some people think that it is not humane to waterboard someone. Some people think that waterboarding could potentially save the lives of hundreds if not thousands of people. It is a harsh tactic that some may say is very effective, however it leaves psychological damage that is non-repairable.

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After September 11, 2001, the US government relied on qualified army instructors for information on tough interrogation methods. One of them was the method of waterboarding. Waterboarding is a type of water torment in which water is poured over a material covering the face and breathing entries of a tied hostage, making the individual experience the impression of suffocating. Normally, the water is poured discontinuously so the hostage won’t die from drowning during the torture, if the water is poured uninterruptedly it will prompt passing by asphyxia with the impression of suffocating, likewise called dry suffocating. Apart from death, waterboarding can cause outrageous torment, harm to lungs, and harm the brain from oxygen hardship.

This essay discusses about the use of waterboarding by the US government during the Bush administration, and whether this was an acceptable method of interrogation.

The use of waterboarding in the US

After 9/11, the CIA was willing to do whatever it took to find the people that were responsible for the horrific attacks. Not only the people responsible for the attacks, but anyone who would be apart of future attacks to the United States. The CIA introduced a harsh tactic to some of their detainees known as waterboarding. The CIA would use enhanced interrogations, such as waterboarding, for long periods of time. Waterboarding these terrorists was very demanding, physically and mentally. There were terrorists that went through horrible spasms, or would getting sick to the point of throwing up. An example of a detainee going though these harsh interrogations was Abu Zabaydah. Abu would go unconscious, with foam coming out of his mouth. Abu was not the only one who had severe reactions to the waterboarding treatment. Khalid Shaykh Mohammad was badly waterboarded and went into several near drownings. At the same time, the United States was in full desperation mode to bring people to justice for their horrific crimes.

On December of 2014, the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) completed a report about the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)'s Detention and Interrogation Program for the years of 2001-2006 during the War on Terror. The brutal interrogation techniques used by the CIA in the years that followed, which touched the limits of torture, did not work. Its authors judge decisions in the name of the criticism of the moment, in the war against terrorism, excessive, if not totally wrong. "The fear of a new terrorist attack does not justify mistaken decisions by organizations in the name of national security," the report notes. The report sheds light on Bush's violent practices, talking about the use of the waterboarding method, during which many prisoners have come close to drowning but also other violent practices. Waterboarding is a method that has been characterized by the United Nations as a practice of torture and involves the interrogation of the interrogator on a board. They then cover the face with a cloth, which is constantly spitting, causing a feeling of choking. Sleep deprivation involving the forced vigil of prisoners for 180 hours, usually in a standing position and often with the hands over the head. In one of the CIA camps, one prisoner lost his life from hypothermia, leaving himself half-naked and chained to cement. Sometimes naked prisoners with hoods on their face were dragging along the corridors while they were brutally banged.

Arguments for Waterboarding

Some people to this day will say the waterboarding interrogation tactics used by the CIA worked. People may even think that waterboarding suspects could gather information quicker than regular interrogations. Michael Hayden, former CIA director, claimed that enhanced interrogations lead to a lot of information on al Qaeda. Hayden went as far to say that half of the knowledge the government had was due to interrogations, like waterboarding. A lot of very valuable information came from these harsh interrogations. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was described to have broken very easily once he was put into interrogations like waterboarding. Mohammed gave major intel, like the nickname of bin Laden. Telling this kind of information helped the CIA find and capture bin Laden. As most Americans know, bin Laden was one of the main leaders behind the 9/11 attacks. The next big named detainee was Abu Zubaydah. Abu went through waterboarding as well. Abu opened up and gave up information that helped lead to the apprehension of Ramzi bin al Shibh. Capturing Shibh was huge for the United States because he gave up crucial intel on KSM and other major terrorists (Mukasey, 2011). One of the stronger arguments involving these interrogations is that waterboarding wasn’t used on every single terrorist suspect. Waterboarding was used on a select few individuals who were good at handling other kinds of interrogations. There were thousands of detainees that were apprehended by the United States (Mukasey, 2011). The number of people that went through and questioned by the CIA program was less than 100. Out of the 100 people, less than one-third went through the harsh interrogation tactics that the CIA used. Even former Vice President Dick Cheney defended the program stating “It’s a tougher program, for tougher customers” (Crook, 2008, p. 360). Waterboarding once again was a desperation for the United States. Most can agree that these high level terrorists may have never talked if it wasn’t for the United States bringing in enhanced interrogations like waterboarding. Some potential plans may of never been discovered, or some high level terrorists would never have been brought to justice.

Arguments Against Waterboarding

Today the majority of Americans would be completely against the use of waterboarding. Waterboarding would be considered inhumane, or unethical. The Senate came out with findings and conclusions that showed that the use of waterboarding didn’t exactly bring a lot of great results. Their records showed seven of the 39 suspects that went through the extreme interrogation tactics, like waterboarding, gave hardly any valuable information. The other suspects that didn’t go through the harsh treatments, gave up valuable information. Numerous detainees who went under harsh interrogation, such as waterboarding, gave false information. Some of these terrorists suspects would even go as far as lying about terrorist threats on countries. Getting all of this false information can lead to a waste of time and resources. Even CIA officers started to feel that these types of interrogations, like waterboarding, were the best option. Officers found that the person in question would hardly cooperate with the interrogators. It would seem that the CIA should of used other interrogation tactics to get the detainee to give up information. Shane O’Mara practices Brain Research at Trinity College. Shane goes in depth of how the brain isn’t at full operation when it is going through harsh interrogation tactics. Shane claims that the interrogator who is performing enhanced interrogations may be getting a lot of information, but not all of that is going to be true (Lowth, 2017). Shane discusses how stress and pain can cause the brain to lose the recollection of memories. This also causes the brain to make more errors when it comes to recalling memories. This could help explain why some terrorists give up false intel to interrogators. Shane also claims that a person under this intense enhanced interrogation is likely to confess. The odds of this confession being true is very improbable. With these statistics and opinions it shows that the enhanced interrogations, like waterboarding, used on detainees were not very useful. The CIA could have used other ways to extract information from detainees. In today’s society, not everyone is going to be on board with waterboarding. The world has changed since the CIA was capturing and waterboarding these terrorists. The viewpoints of Americans have changed. Today we should use more humane ways of interrogating future terrorist.

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The use of waterboarding on terrorists, after 9/11, was out of desperation to find the horrible people that committed these crimes. President Bush had such a pressure to find these people and give them the proper punishments. People today have a different opinion on waterboarding. They claim waterboarding is ineffective and hardly works. Their opinion is statistically true. At the same time, the United States was willing to do whatever it took to find the terrorists that were responsible for the horrible crimes committed. My opinion on the use of waterboarding is that it was right for its time. It was fine to use right after 9/11 because of the panic to find these people. At the same time, today we should not use this type of interrogation on terrorists.

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Cite this Essay

The use of waterboarding by the US government. (2022, November 23). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 7, 2023, from
“The use of waterboarding by the US government.” GradesFixer, 23 Nov. 2022,
The use of waterboarding by the US government. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 7 Dec. 2023].
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