One of the most missed components of the entire insurgency in Iraq was that Syria and Bashar al-Assad facilitated Al Qaeda's operations in Iraq. They actually headquartered the Iraq Ba'ath Party and all of their escaped generals in Damascus.
Vladimir Putin understood, from the Communist era when he was a KGB officer, that the Russian propaganda system of targeting Western media - that in the digital world, you could easily pull the Western media around by a nose ring.
I saw the waterboarding device in Cambodia's notorious Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh and did not see another until I was strapped down on an identical one at SERE. Waterboarding was administered as a 'stress demonstrator' to show that an enemy could make one say anything. And one does.
In the media, waterboarding is called 'simulated drowning,' but that's a misnomer. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning.
SERE is a classified program, but every person informed of it is 'read in' to the details of the program. Even the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, which administers SERE, starts its PowerPoint presentation with a slide outlining the agency's origins.
I've been involved in air strikes against Syria and operations against Syria numerous times in my career.