Waterboarding is considered to be a professional interrogation technique by some and a torture by human rights organizations. In this, the victim is immobilized on a board, the face is covered with a wet cloth and water is slowly poured over the face for 30 to 40 seconds. The victim is then allowed to take three to four long breaths before it is repeated. This causes feeling similar to suffocation as the victim is unable to breathe while water is poured on the face.
This mock drowning experience can cause a permanent psychological and physiological damage. Waterboarding results in choking in victims accompanied by stress responses like tachycardia and damage to muscle and bones due to struggling against restraints. Prolonged effects of this technique might result in lung and brain damage due to oxygen deprivation in victims. Psychological damage includes depression and a phobia in which the victim is afraid of taking showers or starts gasping when its raining.
Waterboarding is an old technique of torture used for many centuries. The first report of waterboarding comes from as far back as 1500s and also commonly known to be used in Cambodian prisons. Waterboarding was also used a frequent form of torture during World War II, Algerian war, and the Vietnam War.
Even today, many prisons use this form of torture during interrogation. There have been many controversies and demonstrations in the United States of America regarding waterboarding. Reports have revealed waterboarding as a technique used by interrogators to extract information from high level prisoners. This technique is also a part of many Military survival training routines.
Many human rights groups oppose this technique for interrogation because it violates the United Nations Convention against Torture. This states that any interrogation which causes mental or physical pain is a definition of torture, and no circumstance including war, political instability, or public emergency justifies the use of this technique on prisoners.
The effectiveness of this technique for interrogation is also debatable. Due to the agony caused by waterboarding, victims cannot withstand this treatment for more than in a few seconds and beg to be released. It is believed that victims often lie and divulge false information to escape from this form of torture. In other instances, this technique has been claimed to be very effective in extracting important information in a short amount of time from terrorists or other high level prisoners.