>by H.L. King


I was waterboarded during my stint in the Navy. Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) school is required training for all Naval aviators and SEALs. I can tell you first hand that simulated drowning is in fact torturous, no question about it. However, it doesn’t cause tissue damage if done properly (brain damage is likely if done improperly).

H.L. kneeling 2nd row from the front, 4th from the left. 

Anyone who says torture doesn’t work has no idea what they’re talking about. Of course it works. If it didn’t, no one would exert the effort – it simply wouldn’t be done. And of course the subject will say anything to make it stop. Mankind figured that out the day after torture was invented. The point is that they’ll say *everything* and it’s up to the interrogation team to find out what’s true and what isn’t. All in all, it isn’t too difficult to discern lie from truth – it’s extremely difficult to keep lies straight when under extreme duress.

Everybody talks in the end. This the primary lesson of the Resistance phase of SERE school, the prisoner of war simulation. They want us to know that they know damned well we’ll tell everything we know, from stealing that candy bar when we were in grade school, to nailing our best friend’s girlfriend in high school, to cheating on our wives, to our mission objective, to the last known location of the aircraft carrier. And it’s one of the reasons we don’t get to know too much. They don’t want us to get down on ourselves for feeling that we’ve betrayed our country. Because we haven’t. We’ll break under the pressure of torture. Just like everybody else. But we can’t give up. We have to live to fight another day. We fight for our country and our way of life. The enemy dies for his cause. We fight, they die.

H.L. today

They let us know the truth about torture – the truth that it works and we will talk. We have to muster the strength to hold out as long as possible, to resist, but in the end we must understand that eventually we will break. Everybody talks. John Wayne is a movie character that would never talk. Marion Morrison would talk. Because everybody talks. Because torture works.


H.L. King served in the United States Navy (1982-1986).  Awards/Commendations: Navy Unit Commendation, Sea Service Deployment (x2), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Grenada), and Navy Expeditionary Medal (Lebanon)

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