In support of President Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel for CIA director and to prove the controversial interrogation method, which he called “a baptism in freedom,” isn’t torture, Green Beret and former UFC fighter Tim Kennedy waterboarded himself on Saturday.
Kennedy said in the 41-minute video that he hoped to show that nominee Gina Haspel has been wrongly criticized for her role in “enhanced interrogation techniques” at a CIA black site, Fox News reports.
More than 100 former U.S. ambassadors who served both Republican and Democratic presidents sent the Senate a letter last week opposing Haspel, saying that despite her credentials, confirming her would give authoritarian leaders around the world the license to say U.S. behavior is “no different from ours.”
Kennedy said that waterboarding is not torture and just an uncomfortable experience.
“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 later shared an excerpt from the livestream on Facebook, showing him being heavily doused in water.
“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 run 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.”
Haspel last week said she would not permit the spy agency to restart the kind of harsh detention and interrogation program it ran at black sites after Sept. 11. It was one of the darkest chapters of the CIA’s history and tainted America’s image worldwide.
Senators asked how she would respond if Trump — who has said he supports harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse” — ordered her to do something she found morally objectionable.
“I would not allow CIA to undertake activity that I thought was immoral, even if it was technically legal,” said Haspel, a 33-year veteran of the agency. “I would absolutely not permit it.”