How The “Wateboarding Works” Myth Began
Former CIA officer John Kiriakou appeared on ABC News on December 10, 2007 saying that waterboarding is torture, and that it works. He claimed that suspected terrorist Abu Zubaydah began to cooperate after being waterboarded for “probably 30, 35 seconds. From that day forward he answered every question.” But newly declassified information reveals Zubayda (pictured below) was waterboarded “at least 83 times.”
During the heated debate in 2007 over the use of waterboarding and other techniques, Mr. Kiriakou’s comments quickly ricocheted around the media. But lost in much of the coverage was the fact that Mr. Kiriakou had no firsthand knowledge of the waterboarding: He was not actually in the secret prison in Thailand where Mr. Zubaydah had been interrogated but in the C.I.A. headquarters in Northern Virginia. He learned about it only by reading accounts from the field.
On “World News,” ABC included only a caveat that Mr. Kiriakou himself “never carried out any of the waterboarding.” Still, he told ABC that the actions had “disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks.”
Kiriakou told ABC’s Brian Ross in the December 10 interview that he believed waterboarding was necessary in 2002 because “At the time I was so angry. I wanted so much to help disrupt future attacks on the United States that I felt it was the only thing we could do.”
And that’s what drives this testosterone-laden myth that waterboarding (a) is fine to do and (b) works. It’s a policy built upon revenge and anger, not facts. And let’s not forget that tapes of 2002 interrogations were destroyed on orders from Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr., the CIA’s then-director of clandestine operations. And let’s also not forget that Abu Zubaydah’s credibility was called into question.
While CIA officials have described him as an important insider whose disclosures under intense pressure saved lives, some FBI agents and analysts say he is largely a loudmouthed and mentally troubled hotelier whose credibility dropped as the CIA subjected him to a simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding and to other “enhanced interrogation” measures.Click here for reuse options!
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