by Cora Currier, ProPublica
For many years, Bush administration officials have said that the CIA waterboarded only three terror suspects. Despite nearly endless revelations and investigations about the U.S.’s treatment of detainees, there has never been evidence contradicting those claims. But that changed earlier this month.
Human Rights Watch recently released a report detailing the accounts of 14 Libyan men who claim they were detained and, in some cases, subject to harsh interrogations by the U.S. before being transferred back to Libyan prisons, where they also faced abuse.
One man, Mohammed Al-Shoreoiya, provided a detailed account of being waterboarded “many times” while in U.S. custody in an Afghan prison between 2003 and 2004. Another man described a similar form of water torture, conducted without a board.
None of the men’s accounts could be confirmed, but as the New York Times noted, the detainees did not seek out Human Rights Watch, and their descriptions of their treatment, including waterboarding, are consistent with CIA procedural documents that have been made public.
The CIA first confirmed waterboarding in February 2008, when then-CIA director Michael Hayden told a Senate committee that “only three detainees” had been waterboarded — Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zabaydah, and Abd Al Rahim al-Nashiri. No one, he said, had been subjected to the process since 2003. That claim has been repeated by former President George W. Bush and top officials from his administration. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has also noted that the military did not waterboard.
A spokesman for the CIA told ProPublica that “the Agency has been on the record that there are three substantiated cases in which detainees were subjected to the waterboarding technique under the program.”
Here are top Bush administration officials stating, again and again, only three detainees were waterboarded [emphasis added]: