Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter and Green Beret Tim Kennedy posted a live-streamed video of himself being waterboarded on Saturday in support of President Trump’s nominee to lead the CIA, claiming that the controversial interrogation tactic is not torture.
Kennedy said in the 41-minute video posted to Facebook that he pulled this stunt to show that CIA nominee Gina Haspel has been unfairly criticized for overseeing a CIA black site where “enhanced interrogation techniques” were used on terrorist detainees shortly after 9/11.
The video showed the former UFC fighter’s towel-covered face being doused with water from a hose.
After the experience, the Green Beret wrote a caption explaining his “waterboarding” experience.
“We did this yesterday for almost 45 minutes. The average pour was anywhere from 10 to 60. They wouldn’t tell me when they were going to put the towel on. They would just smash it on my face and start pouring. You can’t hold your breath while they do it because the water runs down your sinuses,” Kennedy wrote. “The water runs through your eyes, down your nose and pools at the back of your throat. It was a baptism in freedom. It’s not torture! Hell we had elk tacos and wine afterwards. Wake up people.”
Kennedy claimed waterboarding is uncomfortable but not torture.
“If I can change one person’s mind about what torture is and what I would do to protect American freedom, I will do this for years,” he said.
Not everybody agreed with Kennedy. Counterterrorism expert Malcolm Nance wrote on Twitter that Kennedy’s technique is “wrong” and there is more to waterboarding than pouring water on someone’s towel-covered face:
Wrong. That’s not how it’s done. You’re just holding your breath. As a former SERE instructor & #Waterboarding qual’d resistance team member I can tell you it’s about aggression, intent, tiedown, pour technique, rate of flow & other factors. It’s a Nazis/Commie torture. Deal w/it https://t.co/YRYY5HIniD
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) May 12, 2018
During her Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearings on Wednesday, Haspel pledged not to restart the CIA’s controversial interrogations program if selected as CIA director.
“Having served in that tumultuous time, I can offer you my personal commitment, clearly and without reservation, that under my leadership, on my watch, CIA will not restart such a detention and interrogation program,” Haspel said at the hearing.
Trump has backed his decision to nominate Haspel despite concerns from Democrats and some Republicans in the Senate. The president tweeted last week that his “highly respected nominee” has been criticized for “being too tough on terrorists.”