Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Abu Zubaydah And The Question of Waterboarding

Waterboarding works. At least, as Jules Crittenden points out, that is the conclusion of the CIA, al Qaeda Chief Abu Zubaydah, Nancy Pelosi and Allah. In an interview with ABC News, retired CIA officer John Kiriakou, who captured Zubaydah and questioned him, credits the "time sensitive information" gained from the use of waterboarding Zubaydah with breaking up numerous planned attacks by al Qaeda and saving countless innocent American lives. In the transcrpit of his interview, Kiriakou states that anything less than waterboarding would be ineffective on the committed members of al Qaeda who "hate us more than they love life." All of which makes the question of whether we should pass the Democratic legislation to outlaw waterboarding a bit more than an academic exercise. Indeed, as the agent reveals in his interview with ABC news, it is also a troubling question for him.

According to the ABC News report, John Kiriakou, the CIA officer whose team captured al Qaeda Chief Abu Zubaydah, said his team subjected Zubaydah to waterboarding, and that the technique "broke" the terror leader in "less than 35 seconds."

In the report, . . . Kiriakou said he believes waterboarding is torture, but said the need for intelligence that would help prevent future attacks justified the technique.

"The threat information he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks," Kiriakou said of the information Zubaydah provided.

"What happens if we don't waterboard a person, and we don't get that nugget of information, and there's an attack," Kiriakou said. "I would have trouble forgiving myself."

Read the article here. And this from one of the transcripts of the interview of John Kiriakou by Brian Ross of ABC New:

BR: [Would you] call [waterboarding] torture?

JK: You know, at the time, no. At the time I thought this was something that we-- we really needed to do. I had heard stories of-- of captured German prisoners from the Second World War playing chess with their interrogators. And over the course of many weeks and months of playing chess they develop a rapport, and the German ended up giving information. Al Qaeda is not like a World War Two German POW. It's a different world.

These guys hate us more than they love life. And so they're not-- you're not gonna convince them that because you're a nice guy and they can trust you and they have a rapport with you that they're going to confess and-- and give you their operations. It's-- it's different. It's a different world.

BR: You're not-- you're not gonna be able to slowly seduce them to talk?

JK: Not these guys. And at the time I-- I felt that water boarding was something that we needed to do. And as time has passed, and has-- as September 11th has-- has, you know, has moved farther and farther back into history-- I think I've changed my mind. And I think that-- water boarding is probably something that we shouldn't be in the business of doing.

BR: Why do you say that now?

JK: Because we're Americans, and we're better than that. . .

BR: And bottom line as you sit here now do you think that was worth it?

JK: Yes.

Read the ABC article here. And here are Part I and Part II of the transcripts of the ABC News interview. The transcrips are fascinating for many reasons, not least of which are the descriptions of waterboarding and the control measures surrounding its very limited use.

Just as an aside, one of the arguments against waterboarding it that using this technique would lead our enemies to using similar techniques on our own soldiers. That argument is a bit sophmoric. The interrogation techniques of our enemies, such as Iran, tend to be a bit harsher.

The cleric in the background of this photo is the former President of Iran, Ayatollah Khatami.

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