How To Do It

Restrain the interrogation subject on a board. Incline the board about 15-20 degrees so that the feet are above the head. Optionally, put a damp cloth over the face to keep the water clinging to the face (Khmer Rouge technique), or put plastic wrap over the mouth but not the eyes or nose to prevent water from escaping the throat and sinuses (CIA technique). Pour water onto the inclined face so that the water runs into the upturned mouth and nose. The water stays in the head, filling the throat, mouth, and sinuses with water. The lungs don't fill up with water so your prisoner doesn't asphyxiate, but they *do* feel their entire upper respiratory system from sinuses to trachea filled with water, "simulating drowning". You're drowning your subject from the inside, filling their head and neck. The lungs stay out of the water, keeping oxygen in the blood and prolonging the glubbing. "His sufferings must be that of a man who is drowning, but cannot drown." Key points:
  • Keep the chest elevated above the head and neck to keep the lungs "above the waterline".
  • Incline the head, both to keep the throat open and to present the nostrils for easier filling.
  • Force the mouth open so that water can be poured into both the nose and mouth.
Saran wrap, damp cloth, or any facial covering is not essential, but sometimes used as a bonus multiplier. If someone coughs to try to blow the water out of their throat or mouth the plastic catches the water and keeps it in. The cloth or plastic also acts as a one-way valve, opening to let more air out and then closing again to prevent inhalation. Eventually you end up with collapsed, empty lungs, no ability to inhale more air, a throat, mouth, and nose that's still full of water, and no capacity to get the water out since you're already fully exhaled. "CIA officers who subjected themselves to the water boarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in." (In practice, "14 seconds" is roughly the amount of time one can exhale slowly through the upturned nose. This keep the water out, temporarily. When your breath runs out the water starts flowing in.) There are a lot of variables to play with: the angle of the board, the volume of the water, the pressure of the plastic wrap, how much inhalation to allow, and where to keep your prisoner on the line between "waterlogged wheezing" and "deep gurgling". There's an asphyxiation hazard, but modern interrogators have doctors on hand with blood oxygen monitors to make sure their subject stays oxygenated enough to remain conscious. If the prisoner begins to asphyxiate to the point of unconsciousness the doctors have five to six minutes to resuscitate your prisoner before brain damage occurs, which is more than enough time especially with the equipment prepped. It's possible to kill someone this way if you're not careful, but the point of coercive methods isn't to kill you, it's to keep you on the agonizing border between life and death. Tortures produce the most intense suffering when they cut, shock, burn, or otherwise abuse their prisoner without him losing consciousness. Doctors are present as "safety officers" to advise interrogators how long they can torture their prisoners without permanent physical damage. Doctors in the Guantanamo "Behavioral Science Consultation Team" have reviewed interrogation procedures, selected which procedures would be used, designed the procedures, and trained interrogators to follow them. Inhaled liquid is an immediate, life-threatening situation. It'll kill you faster than third degree burns, faster than a lost eye or a lost limb. If you've ever inhaled water you know that even the smallest amount of liquid in the larynx and trachea is an immediate, hardwired hotline directly to the panic portion of the brain that death is imminent. Survivors of near-drowning experiences report that the sensation of water flooding down the larynx and trachea as they struggle to breathe is the most terrifying aspect of the experience. Waterboarding does not "simulate" this experience, it re-creates this experience. The above is a "best guess" about existing procedure. If you or someone you know is in a position to authoritatively confirm or correct this information please contact me.