Did Cheney Order Abu Zubaydah’s 83rd Waterboarding?

McClatchy reports that one of the reasons Khalid Sheikh Mohammed got waterboarded 183 times and Abu Zubaydah got waterboarded 83 times is that Cheney and Rumsfeld refused to believe they had no information on ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq. (h/t Hmmm)


The Bush administration put relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

[snip]

A former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that intelligence agencies and interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration.

"There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used," the former senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity.

"The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there."

This suggests that when Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded an additional time--perhaps his 83rd--against the judgment of the interrogators working with him directly, the "elements with CIA Headquarters" that ordered up the additional torture were being pushed by Cheney and Rummy (a suggestion JimWhite made here).

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