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November 03, 2007

Only Three Terrorists Have Been Waterboarded?

An ABC News investigation has turned up an interesting piece of information:

For all the debate over waterboarding, it has been used on only three al Qaeda figures, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials.

As ABC News first reported in September, waterboarding has not been used since 2003 and has been specifically prohibited since Gen. Michael Hayden took over as CIA director.

The report can be found here. I think that most people believe that waterboarding has seen much more widespread use. I know I did. While it's apparent rarity doesn't say anything about the appropriateness of the practice, it does fly in the face of Lefty hysteria about an out-of-control "torture program."

It appears from the report that the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" has been carefully considered by the CIA and used on a total of only 12 Al Qaida detainees. I'm sure we've discussed the six techniques before, but it doesn't hurt to remind everyone:

1. The Attention Grab: The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him.

2. The Attention Slap: An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear.

3. The Belly Slap: A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. The aim is to cause pain, but not internal injury. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch, which could cause lasting internal damage.

4. Longtime Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.

5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.

6. Waterboarding (as demonstrated in the picture above): The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.

This story should come with several caveats, however:

First, they haven't named their sources. It sounds like there are many more than one, but they are nevertheless unnamed.

Second, the report appears to apply only to the CIA. No word on separate detainee treatment by the military (although the six techniques listed above are also contained in the army field guide), or occasions in which extraordinary rendition has been used. I mention this because the military, rather than the CIA, presently have and have had the majority of War on Terror combatant-detainees.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 12:28 AM

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