On Friday, Green Beret Tim Kennedy live-streamed himself being waterboarded in his backyard by friends in order to demonstrate his belief that the procedure is not "torture," as some claim.
Kennedy, who is also a UFC fighter, made the video to protest those who oppose Gina Haspel, Trump’s nominee for director of the CIA.
Haspel has been criticized for her work at a CIA black site in Thailand where "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding were used in the aftermath of 9/11.
In 2005, then-head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service (NCS), Jose Rodriguez, allegedly asked Haspel, who was his chief of staff, to write a cable directing personnel to destroy 92 tapes which are said to have shown the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Rodriguez claims that he ordered the destruction of the tapes because the faces of CIA agents could allegedly be seen.
However, Haspel was cleared of wrongdoing after a "disciplinary review" in 2011. In the review, then-Deputy Director of the CIA Mike Morell writes: "Ms. Haspel claims that she believed — incorrectly as it turned out — that Mr. Rodriguez was going to obtain approval from then (CIA) Director (Porter) Goss before releasing the cable."
In April, Morell released a statement that reads in part:
Ms. Haspel did not destroy the tapes, she did not oversee the destruction of the tapes and she did not order the destruction of the tapes ... She drafted a cable, under instruction from her boss, Mr. Rodriguez, that he sent — under his name and authority — ordering that the tapes be destroyed.
During an interview with ProPublica, however, Rodriguez said that "he told Haspel directly that he was going to take matters into his own hands, and that she responded by saying she was worried about the consequences that he might face for such a brash act."
ProPublica then quotes Rodriguez directly: "She didn’t say, 'Don’t do it.' She may have thought I was going to talk to more people about it before hitting 'send,' but I had made up my mind that I was going to follow through."
According to the Associated Press, "little else is publicly known about her work with the program [black site in Thailand]."
At the beginning of Kennedy’s video (2:46), he states, "I just want everybody to understand what waterboarding is. Waterboarding is an opportunity for us to get information, useful information, out of somebody we’re questioning. There is no permanent damage, and it’s just the fear of water that scares people."
Later (23:37), Kennedy asks the live-stream audience: "Does this look like torture to you guys?", although he did admit that it’s highly uncomfortable.
At about 24 minutes into the video, they up the ante, and go "CIA" level, pouring water over Kennedy’s towel-covered face for longer periods of time.
The entire video lasts about 42 minutes, and can be watched below: