Ex-CIA agent: Waterboarding 'saved lives'


Verified Military
Sep 7, 2006
NEW YORK (CNN) -- A former CIA agent who participated in interrogations of terror suspects said Tuesday that the controversial interrogation technique of "waterboarding" has saved lives, but he considers the method torture and now opposes its use.

Former CIA operative John Kiriakou also told CNN's "American Morning" that he disagrees with a decision to destroy videotapes of certain interrogations, namely of al Qaeda's Abu Zubayda. Kiriakou made the remarks as two congressional committees prepared to grill CIA Director Michael Hayden on the destruction of the tapes and on "alternative" means of interrogation.

Waterboarding begins by placing a suspect on a table with the suspect's feet slightly elevated, said Kiriakou, who was waterboarded several years ago as part of his CIA training. He said he elected not to learn how to perform the technique, which is designed to emulate the sensation of drowning.

Once a suspect is secured on the table, interrogators wrap his or her face in a cellophane-like material, Kiriakou said.

"There is a bladder, or a water source, above the head with water pouring down on the mouth, so no water is going into your mouth, but it induces a gag reflex and makes you feel like you're choking," Kiriakou said. Watch the ex-agent describe the procedure »

Kiriakou said he lasted only a few seconds during his training because his body felt like it was seizing up almost immediately.

"It's entirely unpleasant," Kiriakou said. "You are so full of tension that you tense up, your muscles tighten up. It's very uncomfortable."

Abu Zubayda lasted a little longer, said Kiriakou, but not much.

The former agent, who said he participated in the Abu Zubayda interrogation but not his waterboarding, said the CIA decided to waterboard the al Qaeda operative only after he was "wholly uncooperative" for weeks and refused to answer questions.

All that changed -- and Zubayda reportedly had a divine revelation -- after 30 to 35 seconds of waterboarding, Kiriakou said he learned from the CIA agents who performed the technique.

The terror suspect, who is being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reportedly gave up information that indirectly led to the the 2003 raid in Pakistan yielding the arrest of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, an alleged planner of the September 11, 2001, attacks, Kiriakou said.

The CIA was unaware of Mohammed's stature before the Abu Zubayda interrogation, the former agent said.

"Abu Zubayda's the one who told us that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was so important in the al Qaeda structure, and we didn't realize at the time how important he was," Kiriakou said.

Abu Zubayda also divulged information on "al Qaeda's leadership structure and mentioned people who we really didn't have any familiarization with [and] told us who we should be thinking about, who we should be looking at, and who was important in the organization so we were able to focus our investigation this way," Kiriakou said.

Abu Zubayda reportedly told the agent who waterboarded him that "Allah had visited him in his cell during the night and told him to cooperate because it would make it easier on the other brothers who had been captured," Kiriakou said.

Though the information wrenched from Abu Zubayda "stopped terrorist attacks and saved lives," Kiriakou said he opposes waterboarding.

"Now after all these years, time has passed, and we're more on our feet in this fight against al Qaeda, and I think it's unnecessary," he said.

In a separate CNN interview, Kiriakou said the Justice Department and National Security Council reportedly approved waterboarding and other "alternative" interrogation techniques in June 2002.

"It was a policy decision that came down from the White House," he said.

Despite the executive blessing, Kiriakou and other agents were conflicted over whether to learn the technique, he said.

"One senior officer said to me that this is something you really have to think deeply about," the former agent said, adding he "struggled with it morally."

Kiriakou conceded his position might be hypocritical and said that the technique was useful -- even if he wanted to distance himself from it.

"Waterboarding was an important technique, and some of these other techniques were important in collecting the information," he said. "But I personally didn't want to do it. I didn't think it was right in the long run, and I didn't want to be associated with it."

As for the tapes of the interrogations, Kiriakou -- who claims neither he nor the other CIA agents realized they were being recorded during the Abu Zubayda interrogation -- said he disagrees with the decision to destroy the tapes.

"I don't see the reason to destroy them," Kiriakou said. "There's a possibility that they could be used in a criminal investigation, and frankly, for the historical record, I think it's important to have things like that maintained."

The Justice Department and CIA have announced a preliminary inquiry into the matter. Hayden, the CIA director, is slated to go before congressional committees Tuesday and Wednesday.

Hayden has said the CIA destroyed the tapes "only after it was determined they were no longer of intelligence value and not relevant to any internal, legislative or judicial inquiries."

Congressional leaders said they were never properly notified about the decision.


"It's effective, it saves lives, but its bad"

:uhh: WTF?

It is NOT fucking torture!

So it worked on one fuckpot that wouldn't talk but now it's bad so we shouldn't do it on any other fuckpot's that won't talk. :uhh::rolleyes: I'd like to know the situation that led this moron to leaving the CIA, it's not like he hit fucking retirement age.
So it worked on one fuckpot that wouldn't talk but now it's bad so we shouldn't do it on any other fuckpot's that won't talk. :uhh::rolleyes: I'd like to know the situation that led this moron to leaving the CIA, it's not like he hit fucking retirement age.

As well as what prompted his going to CNN and talking about his work there. I'm guessing that suggestion didn't come from Langley...

Last sentence sounds like an afterthought to divert attention from Congress, and make sure nobody reading this looks to closely at their end of all this. :2c:
This guy sounds like a shitbird. He's like the guy that joins the infantry then gets out and protest because he had to kill people. Its one thing not to agree with the tactic, which I personaly do agree with, but to got to Communist News Network and talk about what goes on behind doors that are closed for a reason is just bullshit.
Terrorist get nice room and board, hot meals, and some luxuries he is not accustomed too(toilet seat:D), and yet they feel sorry for him because we ruffled his feathers. We need to go Medevil on there asses }:-), waterboarding ain't real torture, will it help if we added some booze to the mix.
People like that only hurt our country. I guess he sort of forgot about lifespan of his NDA after getting his clearance.
I saw him interviewed on Nightline a couple of nights ago, and he revealed that he was not present during the waterboarding, only that he was told that it worked.

Which is hearsay, regardless of the credibility of the person who told him that. But that's beside the point.

Nothing but a bunch of desparate amateurs masquerading as professionals. No sense reiterating my views on these methods.
I saw him interviewed on Nightline a couple of nights ago, and he revealed that he was not present during the waterboarding, only that he was told that it worked.

Which is hearsay, regardless of the credibility of the person who told him that. But that's beside the point.

Nothing but a bunch of desparate amateurs masquerading as professionals. No sense reiterating my views on these methods.
But we haven't all heard them. :D
CIA agents sense shifting support for methods

By Scott Shane

Thursday, December 13, 2007
WASHINGTON: For six years, Central Intelligence Agency officers have worried that someday the tide of post-Sept. 11 opinion would turn, and their harsh treatment of prisoners from Al Qaeda would be subjected to hostile scrutiny and possible criminal prosecution.

Now that day may have arrived, after years of shifting legal advice, searing criticism from rights groups — and no new terrorist attacks on American soil.

The Justice Department, which in 2002 gave the CIA legal approval for waterboarding and other tough interrogation methods, is reviewing whether agency officials broke the law by destroying videotapes of those very methods.

The congressional intelligence committees, whose leaders in 2002 gave at least tacit approval for the tough tactics, have voted in conference to ban all coercive techniques, and they have announced investigations of the destruction of the videotapes and the methods they documented.

"Exactly what they feared is what's happening," Jack Goldsmith, the former head of the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, said of the CIA officials he advised in that job. "The winds change, and the recriminations begin."

The legal siege against the Bush administration's counterterrorism programs goes far beyond the CIA, including lawsuits brought on behalf of hundreds of detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and more than 40 challenges in court to the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program.

For some at the CIA, the second-guessing began in 2004 with a decision by Goldsmith, now at Harvard Law School, to withdraw the 2002 opinion on interrogation, whose sweeping constitutional claims and narrow definition of torture he found fatally flawed. But he said he regretted the way the agency had been whipsawed — accused of "risk aversion" immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks, and now blamed for traducing American values by engaging in torture.

"Things that seemed to them five years ago to have airtight legal and political support are now under investigation," he said, comparing this cycle to the Senate hearings into CIA abuses in the 1970s and the criminal prosecution of CIA officials in the Iran-contra affair of the 1980s.

Even a CIA officer involved in capturing and questioning leaders of Al Qaeda expresses a striking ambivalence about the policies that were carried out.

John Kiriakou, who helped lead the team that caught the Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March 2002, went public on ABC News this week with such a message. He said he saw intelligence reports saying that waterboarding, a technique that induces a sense of suffocation, had caused Abu Zubaydah to start talking after 35 seconds.

But Kiriakou, a 43-year-old father of four who left the agency in 2004, also said in an interview that he believed waterboarding was torture and should never be used again, because "we Americans are better than that." He added: "I think the second-guessing of 2002 decisions is unfair. What I think is fair is having a national debate over whether we should be waterboarding."

Legal hazards were on the minds of Bush administration officials from the beginning of the response to 9/11. The 2002 Justice Department interrogation opinion laid out some defenses interrogators might use against criminal accusations of torture.

"The administration's success in preventing attacks has become its enemy," said John Yoo, the former Justice official who wrote most of the 2002 opinion. Since then, he added, "The political environment has changed because people feel the threat is less than it used to be."

Yoo's legal opinions, though criticized as seriously flawed by some scholars, may nonetheless provide impenetrable armor for CIA officers. From the beginning, wary agency officials insisted on what they called "top cover" — written Justice Department approval for what they did.

Most legal scholars say that even under a future administration, the Justice Department would not seek charges against CIA officers for actions the department itself had approved.

Another obstacle to such prosecutions would be the laws passed by Congress in 2005 and 2006 granting extensive legal protection for authorized conduct. But the videotape destruction may not have such protection; the episode recalls the adage of Washington scandals — that it's not the crime, it's the cover-up that leads to trouble.

The deaths of several prisoners who had been questioned by CIA officers or contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan — but outside the detention program for high-level Qaeda prisoners — have been referred to the Justice Department. Only one CIA contractor, David Passaro, has been prosecuted, receiving an eight-year sentence for beating an Afghan man who later died.

Still, investigations can impose a high price no matter how they end. "It's not just the fear of going to jail," Goldsmith said. "It's the enormous expense of hiring lawyers. It's seeing your reputation destroyed. It's losing your career."

Overseas, CIA officers implicated in rendition cases have been sought on criminal charges in Italy and Germany, though none have been arrested. And since the international pursuit of the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, human rights advocates have often sought criminal charges against former officials on the principle of "universal jurisdiction" for certain grave offenses, including torture.

The Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, which unsuccessfully sought charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during a recent visit to France, has pledged to pursue criminal torture charges against former Bush administration officials when they travel abroad.

"The only way to restore the moral authority of our country," said Michael Ratner, the group's president, "is accountability."

Maybe the people should look at it that these people have been doing their job since 9/11 and preventing future attacks. If they start restricting the way counter terrorist work is done, then there will be more attacks on US soil. :2c:
We'll be asking nicely and giving them rewards to encourage them to talk in future :rolleyes:
We are a country of pussy's, and with shit like this going on it won't be long before we're hit in the face again.
I hate to even think of it.

If it must happen again perhaps I could write up the target list for the bad guys....

NY Times, LA Times, CNN HQ, etc..etc..

Just joking, please no one get their panties in a twist!