Water torture

Later on Mr. George Keunon, the special investigator of the Outlook,
wrote in the issue of that journal, March II, 11 /01 on this subject
as follows: " For the practice of torture in the Philippines, there
is no excuse whatever, and yet that we have sanctioned, if not
directly employed, the 'water torture' as a means of extorting
information from the natives seems certain. "An officer of the
Regular Army now serving in Luzom, from whose letters, I have already
made quotation, describes the water torture, as practiced by Macabebe
scouts in our service, as follows: "A company of Macabebes enter a
town or barrio, catch some man-it matters not whom-ask him if he
knows where there are any guns, and upon receiving a negative
answer, five or six of them throw him down, one holds his head, while
others have hold of an arm or a leg. They then proceed to give him
the " water torture," which is the distension of the internal organs
with water. After they are distended a cord is sometimes placed
around the body and the water expelled. From what I have heard, it
appears to be generally applied, and its use is not confined to one
section. Although it results in the finding of a number of guns, it
does us an infinite amount of harm. Nor are the Macabebes the only
ones who use this method of obtaining information.

" Personally, I have never seen this torture inflicted, nor have I
ever knowingly allowed it; but I have seen a victim a few minutes
afterwards, with his mouth bleeding where it had been cut by a
bayonet used to hold the mouth open, and his face bruised ( where he
had been struck by the Macabebes). Add to this the expression of his
face and his evident weakness from the torture, and you have a
picture which, once seen, will not be forgotten. I am not chicken-
hearted, but this policy hurts us. Summary executions are and will be
necessary in a troubled country, and I have no objection to seeing
that they are carried out, but I am not used to torture. The
Spaniards used the torture of water throughout the islands as a means
of obtaining information, but they used it sparingly and only when it
appeared evident that the victim was culpable. Americans seldom do
things by halves. We come here and announce our intention of freeing
the people from three or four hundred years of oppression, and
say 'We are strong, and powerful, and grand.' Then to resort to
inquisitorial methods and use them without discrimination is unworthy
of us, and will recoil on us as a nation.
" It is painful and humiliating to have to confess that in some of
our dealings with the Filipinos we seem to be following more or less
closely the example of Spain. We have established a penal colony; we
burn native villages near which there has been an ambush or an attack
by insurgent guerrillas; we kill the wounded; we resort to torture
as a means of obtaining information; and in private letters from two
officers of the Regular Army in the Philippines I find the
prediction that in certain provinces we shall probably have to resort
to the method of reconcentration practiced by General Weyler in Cuba."

Senate of the United States ... February 11, 12, and 13, 1902.