The World’s Worst Watersport
Mike Hayden makes it official. We’ve been torturing at CIA, all under George Tenet’s watch.
The director of the Central Intelligence Agency acknowledged Tuesday that his agency had subjected three suspected al Qaida terrorists to waterboarding but said the agency hadn’t employed the tactic in almost five years.
News reports long have cited unidentified sources in claiming that the CIA had used waterboarding on suspected terrorists, but Gen. Michael Hayden’s comments before a Senate committee were the first time that a Bush administration official had confirmed it publicly.
Hayden said waterboarding had been used on Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and on two other terrorist suspects, Abu Zubayda and Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, while they were in secret CIA custody. They were sent to the U.S. military’s detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2006.
Hayden said the three were subjected to the technique, which involves pouring water over the mouth and noise to give the sensation of drowning, at a time when intelligence officials knew little about al Qaida and feared that more attacks were imminent.
"Those two realities have changed," he said.
I’ve got to go back to FBI’s Mike Rolince here. Rolince is a former FBI counterterrorism special agent, and we talked for my piece last week on CIA torture. Here’s Rolince on waterboarding from our interview:
I don’t want to say point blank that waterboarding doesn’t work, never-ever. I have no firsthand experience with it, though I’ve looked at the transcripts [of interrogations using waterboarding]. But here’s a rhetorical question. If it’s so effective, if it works so well, and if it’s strictly-speaking legal, why aren’t we doing it? Today, yesterday, last year. But we haven’t been doing it for a couple years. Why not, then? The answer is, the people who come down on on my side of the argument – "It should not be practiced" — using methods that are tried and true, we have yet to hear a good reason for not using techniques with a 100-year history of success.