"Gunny" Bob provides waterboarding lesson


Appearing on the October 27 edition of MSNBC's The Most, Newsradio 850 KOA host "Gunny" Bob Newman explained the "coercive" interrogation technique of waterboarding to anchor Alison Stewart:

STEWART: Bob Newman is a former military interrogator and a former hostage survival instructor for the U.S. Marines. He's also the host of The Gunny Bob Show and, sir, you've used waterboarding techniques on people before, and I know you've had it actually done to you. For those of us who are unfamiliar with the practice -- and we've just heard the word thrown around quite a bit today -- can you specifically explain what it is, what happens to the subjects?

NEWMAN: Sure. And first of all, it is not dunking anyone in the water. You take your subject, the person about to be interviewed, and he's placed in the supine position. In other words, he's face up and he's on a board like a piece of plywood, a wide board that's slightly wider than his shoulders, and his feet are then elevated so his body is at and angle like this with his head down. Two interrogators run the technique -- it's very simple, one on each side of his head. One of the interrogators will take a cloth, such as a T-shirt, something that's permeable to water, and he'll stretch it over the subject's nose and mouth. On the other side of the subject's head is somebody with a hose with the water running just a little bit, maybe a glass of water, perhaps a canteen. And he dribbles that water over this cloth stretched tight on the person's face, and the person -- because some water goes into his nasal cavity via the nostrils and down his throat -- gets the very quick impression that he is drowning. Is he drowning? Absolutely not. He's not being harmed at all. This is a mental trick, it's a ruse or stratagem that is used to instill fear. Remember, this is a coercive technique using stress, not torture by any stretch of the imagination. It's a trick.

STEWART: Now is waterboarding normally used as an initial form or -- of coercion, or is it a last resort?

NEWMAN: You never really have a set -- a set approach when you're interrogating somebody. Each person is evaluated independently in regards to what techniques or approaches might be used best on him. Oftentimes one of the first approaches used is what is called the direct approach. You simply walk in, introduce yourself as his interrogator, and you start asking him questions that you would like answers to. If he doesn't go for that, there is an entire litany -- a plethora, if you will -- of all sorts of techniques that somebody can use. As a matter of fact, right now you're using one on me, you are using the direct approach, wanting open-ended answers rather than closed answers, and journalists do that all the time. It's an interrogation technique.

STEWART: Something that I am curious about: As we know, terror suspects are very easily adaptable, they're quick to adapt to various situations. Is there any way that a terror suspect can learn to resist waterboarding?

NEWMAN: Oh, absolutely. And you can bet that Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, Hamas, other organizations like that are teaching interrogation resistance techniques. We teach techniques as well at the military SERE school: Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, in what's called the RTL, the Resistance Training Laboratory, which we cannot get into here, but the techniques are really quite well known -- they're out there in the open, for the most part. And one of the unfortunate things that we have done is is the new Army interrogation manual, because of problems we have had with places like Abu Ghraib, which had nothing to do with interrogation. Those were poorly led soldiers. And that -- really that was the problem there, but now this manual is open to the public, and that is extremely unfortunate.

STEWART: Bob Newman, author of Minefields to Microphones (Paladin Press, 2006), thank you so much for joining us.

NEWMAN: My pleasure.

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