Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Was Waterboarded 183 Times in One Month

I’ve put this detail in a series of posts, but it really deserves a full post. According to the May 30, 2005 Bradbury memo, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003 and Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002.

On page 37 of the OLC memo, in a passage discussing the differences between SERE techniques and the torture used with detainees, the memo explains:

The CIA used the waterboard "at least 83 times during August 2002" in the interrogation of Zubaydah. IG Report at 90, and 183 times during March 2003 in the interrogation of KSM, see id. at 91.

Note, the information comes from the CIA IG report which, in the case of Abu Zubaydah, is based on having viewed the torture tapes as well as other materials. So this is presumably a number that was once backed up by video evidence.

The same OLC memo passage explains how the CIA might manage to waterboard these men so many times in one month each (though even with these chilling numbers, the CIA’s math doesn’t add up).

…where authorized, it may be used for two "sessions" per day of up to two hours. During a session, water may be applied up to six times for ten seconds or longer (but never more than 40 seconds). In a 24-hour period, a detainee may be subjected to up to twelve minutes of water appliaction. See id. at 42.  Additionally, the waterboard may be used on as many as five days during a 30-day approval period.

So: two two-hour sessions a day, with six applications of the waterboard each = 12 applications in a day. Though to get up to the permitted 12 minutes of waterboarding in a day (with each use of the waterboard limited to 40 seconds), you’d need 18 applications in a day.  Assuming you use the larger 18 applications in one 24-hour period, and do 18 applications on five days within a month, you’ve waterboarded 90 times–still just half of what they did to KSM.

The CIA wants you to believe waterboarding is effective. Yet somehow, it took them 183 applications of the waterboard in a one month period to get what they claimed was cooperation out of KSM. 

That doesn’t sound very effective to me. 

Sign the petition telling Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate torture here.

Update: Here’s one reason to demand Read more

The 9/11 Detainees Want Hartmann Disqualified, Too

In thoroughly unsurprising news, the defense attorneys for the five 9/11 High Value Detainees (including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh) have moved to either have the charges against their clients dismissed or, at least, have General Hartmann disqualified as Legal Advisor to the Show Trials. Here’s Carol Rosenberg on that story–as well as the news that Judge Allred will delay the start of Salim Hamdan’s trial until after SCOTUS rules in Boumedienne.

This motion obviously piggy-backs on Judge Allred’s decision from last week to have Hartmann disqualified in the Hamdan trial. The 9/11 defendants largely replicate the Hamdan complaint in their own motion–with one significant addition. They also argue that Hartmann illegally tried to coerce defense counsel, in addition to Colonel Morris Davis, the Chief Prosecutor. As they describe:

On January 25, 2008, a member of the Convening Authority’s staff, Colonel Wendy Kelly, inadvertently emailed a draft copy of the charges against Khaleed Sheikh Mohammed and five other detainees to Mr. Michael Berrigan, the Deputy Chief Defense Counsel. The draft charges were being circulated within the Office of the Convening Authority. Mr. Berrigan immediately notified Colonel Kelly of the disclosure and ascertained it was inadvertent, but after seeking counsel from his state bar, refused to return the draft charges.

On February 1, 2008, the Legal Advisor to the Convening Authority wrote a memorandum to the Chief Defense Counsel, Colonel Steven David. General Hartmann stated that he had contacted the professional responsibility offices for the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps and they had opined that Mr. Berrigan must return the draft charges in this case; charges which approximately two weeks later General Hartmann claimed to have just received.


The fact that the Legal Advisor, rather than the Chief Prosecutor, sent the Memorandum to the Chief Defense Counsel illustrates the point that the Legal Advisor failed to retain the required independence from the prosecution function and maintain his ability to provide independent, neutral, and impartial advice to the Convening Authority.

The [Military Commissions Act] prohibits attempting to coerce or unlawfully influence the professional judgment of trial or defense counsel. While the Secretary of Defense has attempted to circumvent the statutory prohibition against unlawful influence of trial counsel by regulation, he has not done so for defense counsel. When unlawful influence is directed against a defense counsel, it "affects adversely on accused’s right to effective assistance of counsel." [citations removed]

Read more

Bush to Raddatz: “So?”

A couple of weeks ago, Dick Cheney interviewed with ABC’s Martha Raddatz, and dismissed the opinion of millions of Americans with a snotty, "So?"

CHENEY: On the security front, I think there’s a general consensus that we’ve made major progress, that the surge has worked. That’s been a major success.

RADDATZ: Two-third of Americans say it’s not worth fighting.

CHENEY: So? [emphasis TP’s]

Tonight, President Bush did a Friday night news dump interview with Raddatz where he effectively said precisely the same thing–only this time about torture (h/t Scarecrow).

President Bush says he knew his top national security advisors discussed and approved specific details about how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to an exclusive interview with ABC News Friday.

"Well, we started to connect the dots, in order to protect the American people." Bush told ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz. "And, yes, I’m aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved."


In his interview with ABC News, Bush said the ABC report about the Principals’ involvement was not so "startling."


In the interview with ABC News Friday, Bush defended the waterboarding technique used against KSM.

"We had legal opinions that enabled us to do it," Bush said. "And, no, I didn’t have any problem at all trying to find out what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed knew."

The President said, "I think it’s very important for the American people to understand who Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was. He was the person who ordered the suicide attack — I mean, the 9/11 attacks."

"So?!?!?!" You’ve never seen a United States President order torture from the Oval Office before, you wuss? Well, get over it. It’s not so startling.

No, President Bush, it’s not startling at all. I understand you don’t have any problem authorizing the water-boarding of KSM.

But I would imagine your efforts to stage a show trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed just got a whole lot more difficult.