Answering the Lie that the CIA's Interrogation Methods Were "Torture"


By Mike Griffith, Staff Writer

Recently we’ve seen articles on VT that have dishonestly juxtaposed disturbing pictures of apparent prisoner mistreatment with sensational headlines and claims about the CIA’s interrogation methods in the war on terror, especially in relation to the CIA’s waterboarding of three high-value Al Qaeda terrorists (Nashiri, KSM, and Zubaydah), even though the pictures do not depict the CIA’s interrogations of terrorists.  One recent article even argued that such methods as sleep deprivation and forced stress positions are also "torture."  So now, according to these folks, it’s "torture" to deprive a terrorist of sleep or to make him remain in a stress position for a period of time–never mind that the terrorist is refusing to reveal crucial intel that could save lives. 

These authors have frequently cited sources that also claim that 9/11 was an inside job ordered by Bush and Cheney and that the Pentagon was hit, not by Flight 77, but by a missile fired by the U.S. military on orders from Bush and Cheney.

There is little hope that the handful of radical authors who keep posting these misleading articles are going to stop doing so.  But, as long as they keep posting their deceitful attacks, I will keep posting articles that defend the CIA’s interrogation methods, which methods we know from the released interrogation memos themselves saved lives, prevented more attacks, led to the capture of more terrorists, and enabled us to deal some heavy blows to Al Qaeda.


Waterboarding Testimony Misleading

By Ronald Kessler (New York Times bestselling author, veteran investigative journalist on the intelligence community, and author of the recent book The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack)

In his confirmation hearings as attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr. gave misleading testimony about waterboarding.

Asked for his views on the coercive interrogation technique, Holder said, “If you look at the history of the use of that technique, we prosecuted our own soldiers for using it in Vietnam . . . waterboarding is torture.”

One soldier was indeed court-martialed in 1968, but what Holder left out was the reason: The military is not authorized to engage in waterboarding, and the individual who was waterboarded was a North Vietnamese soldier. Under the Geneva Conventions, the U.S. would have had no legal right to subject the individual to coercive interrogation.

In contrast, the three terrorists that the CIA waterboarded were not soldiers in uniform, and therefore were not covered by the Geneva Conventions. In addition, the CIA officers who engaged in waterboarding were not rogues who took it upon themselves to use waterboarding. They were authorized to do so by the CIA director, the Justice Department, and the president.

As the interrogations of detained terrorists progressed, the CIA briefed the chairs, ranking members, and majority and minority staff directors of the House and Senate intelligence committees on the details of the procedures used.

Aside from the legalities, the CIA does not believe outright torture produces reliable results and has never used it. Scaring prisoners with waterboarding is another matter. Waterboarding led to a takedown of key al-Qaida operatives when they were planning more attacks. If waterboarding really were torture, the military would not use it on its own special forces as part of their training in case they are waterboarded after being captured.

Many well-intentioned people, including Sen. John McCain, have described waterboarding as torture. But as defined by the dictionary, torture is infliction of pain. As used by the CIA, waterboarding entailed placing a cloth over the face of the subject and pouring water over the cloth. The technique creates the sensation of drowning and therefore fear, but it is painless. The individual awakes the next morning feeling just fine.

While saying he opposes aggressive interrogation, even McCain has acknowledged that in extremis a president might have to approve it. . . . 

According to The Associated Press, Obama is considering requiring the CIA to use interrogation techniques specified by the “U.S. Army Field Manual” while amending the manual with a classified section that would allow the president to authorize techniques not allowed by the military regulations. In fact, since terrorists now know they will not be drowned, it is unlikely the CIA will want to use waterboading again. The CIA has not used it since 2003.

If Holder’s statement about waterboarding was misleading, his defense of President Clinton’s clemency for members of the FALN was even less impressive. Holder said the 16 members of the Puerto Rican nationalist group were convicted of conspiracy and bomb making rather than the actual bombings. By Holder’s standard, Terry Nichols, the Oklahoma City bomber, would now be free.

Waterboarding Is Not Torture

By Jim Meyers

While much is being made of the CIA’s destruction of videotapes depicting the use of waterboarding during the interrogation of terrorists, the technique has actually been little used as a means of extracting information.

Only three terrorists have been subjected to waterboarding, and the technique has not been employed since 2003.

Furthermore, waterboarding should not be considered torture, as some are claiming. Torture is normally defined as the infliction of severe pain, and while waterboarding induces fear because it simulates drowning, it does not inflict pain.

In fact, U.S. special forces are subjected to waterboarding as part of their training in case they are captured and experience the procedure.

Waterboarding was used only when the CIA believed a second wave of terrorist attacks was imminent. But once the media began disclosing that the CIA was using the technique, it became useless, because if terrorists know they will be subjected to fake “drowning,” they will not respond to it.

And when it comes to outright torture, the CIA does not believe it produces reliable results and has never used it, reports Ronald Kessler, chief Washington correspondent of

The three terrorists who were subjected too waterboarding are Abu Zubaydah, Osama bin Laden’s chief of operations; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the mastermind of the bombing of the USS Cole; and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

In these cases waterboarding and other coercive techniques, such as forcing prisoners to stand for hours, succeeded in extracting intelligence that led to the capture of key al-Qaida operative planning terrorist attack against Americans.

Despite the media’s focus on waterboarding, it is in reality a “non issue,” said Kessler, author of the book “The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack.”

“It hasn’t been used since 2003 and won’t be used again. The media is using it as an excuse to bash the president.

“Waterboarding was employed on only three terrorists who were not cooperating, and the information they ultimately provided helped stave off attacks that could have resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people.” (


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