Erich "Mancow" Muller pushed back against our reporting on the fake-ness of his waterboarding hoax on his radio show today. He invited the Marine who poured water on his face—who told us today that he "knows nothing about waterboarding"—to testify as to the realness of the charade.
Muller came to the right conclusion about waterboarding. He just did it in the wrongest way possible. Which is fine for a Chicago radio host with an audience of prank-calling 12-year-olds. But Keith Olbermann and others are holding up this charlatan's stunt as a game-changer in a very important debate. What's the point of judging the merits of what we have been doing to terrorist detainees by doing it to ourselves if we're not actually doing to ourselves what we are in fact doing to terrorist detainees? In the end it just muddles the debate, and more importantly, is fake.
Muller was free to do what others have, and actually undertake to learn about what we are doing and how we are doing it, and try it out to see how it feels. Instead he lazily and loudly called a press conference, had someone pour water on his face, called it torture, and got on Countdown. (And, TV Newser says, will be going back on tonight.) And now that the charade has been called out for what it was, he's flailing about with claims that whatever was done to him was close enough to waterboarding and, really, if it wasn't he still changed his mind that it's torture, which he's still in favor of in certain situations. Got all that?
Klay South, the founder of Veterans of Valor who poured the pitcher over Muller's mouth, was as clear as he could be when he went on Muller's show today, repeating what he told us: he knows nothing about waterboarding. "I have to let people know right off the bat, I've had no formal training, I've never been waterboarded myself. The only thing I know is what I've seen off YouTube and the internet."
South, whose nonprofit has been promised a $10,000 donation from Olbermann (which he deserves just for being dragged into this whole affair) and is getting loads of publicity out of this whole spectacle (also a good thing), went on to say that "it was as real as it gets." Then he ended his segment with this ringing exchange:
Muller: So soldier [Ed.—South is a marine], so was it real or fake?
South: It was as real as I could re-enact, as best as I could.
Muller also issued an incoherent press release, penned by him and reproduced below, introducing a new argument for his case that the waterboarding that his publicist called a "hoax" and insisted wouldn't be "real" and which was conducted by someone who knew "nothing" about waterboarding was not at all fake in any way: "We kept telling management, the insurance companies, and the local Chicago cops we weren't really going to do it - until we did. Otherwise, they weren't gonna let us do it!" So the talk of hoaxes and faking it was just a ruse to fool management into letting them really do it.
He also says, "We never claimed it was an exact recreation," a point on which we will, against all better judgment, take him at his word. Here's the release. You can read a copy-edited version here, but we think you'll prefer Muller's eloquent consideration of "wanterboarding":
I am not a magician. Many news cameras were there!
Obviously, it was on the radio and I wasn't in prison. I'm also not a radicalized Muslim terrorist. But it was not a hoax! I repeat: NOT A HOAX.
We kept telling management, the insurance companies, and the local Chicago cops we weren't really going to do it - until we did. Otherwise, they weren't gonna let us do it! We got a U.S. Marine that told us he had studied how to do it and he volunteered to waterboard me in return for a mention of his charity.
I was on a decline and I was waterboarded. Was I in chains? No. Does that make it less real? I am failing to get the point attempted by my detractors. We never claimed it was an exact recreation.
The CIA technique is exactly what we did:
1. Keep the chest elevated above the head and neck to keep the lungs "above the waterline."
2. Incline the head, both to keep the throat open and to present the nostrils for easier filling.
3. Force the mouth open so that water can be poured into both the nose and mouth.
Sorry, I thought for years it wasn't torture and now I do. The video is there for all to see.
The left has taken my message and distorted it as well. Would I wanterboard to save my daughters (or any American children)? Yes!
The three terrorists that were waterboarded at Guantanamo were done so by military professionals. And it was done to save lives with America's best interests at heart. Mine was a silly radio time filler in comparison. Its apples & hand grenades!
It would be insane to equate what I did with anything that happens in prison. I am simply a free man in a radio studio that always tries to get inside the big issues. This is an ugly issue with no easy answers. But I now see it's easier for some to dismiss me than to do any real soul searching on this very heady issue.