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CIA Used Waterboarding 266 Times on Two Terrorism Suspects

Posted Apr 20, 2009 6:20 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A 2005 Justice Department memo released last week discloses that the CIA used waterboarding 266 times on two al-Qaida suspects.

Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003, the New York Times reports. Bloggers first discovered the information, which was redacted in some copies of the memo but was visible in others.

The story also cites a footnote to another 2005 Justice Department memo that says waterboarding was used more often and with more water than CIA rules permitted.

The Times report says the frequency of waterboarding “may raise questions about its effectiveness.”

But former CIA director Michael Hayden and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey said in an opinion column in the Wall Street Journal on Friday that the harsh interrogations were successful. “Fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of al-Qaida came from those interrogations,” they wrote.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Hayden refused to comment on the number of waterboardings, the New York Times reports in a separate story. Hayden became CIA director after the period of time in which waterboarding was used.

Hayden criticized release of the memos, saying the information will give al-Qaida an advantage because it can prepare its followers on how to deal with U.S. interrogation methods.

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