Abu Zubaydah


Abu Zubaydah : biography

March 12, 1971 –

During Zubaydah’s interrogation, President Bush learned he was on painkillers for his wounds and was proving resistant.Paul Koring , Globe and Mail, January 4, 2006 He said to the CIA director George Tenet, “Who authorized putting him on pain medication?” It was later reported that Zubaydah was denied painkillers during his interrogation., Human Rights Watch, October 2004, Human Rights Watch, 2005Serrin Turner and Stephen J. Schullhoffer , Brennan Center for Justice 2005Eun Young Choi, "Veritas, Not Vengeance: An Examination of the Evidentiary Rules for Military Commissions in the War Against Terrorism"], 42 Harvard Civil Rights Civil Liberties Law Review, 2007Charles H. Brower II, "The Lives of Animals, the Lives of Prisoners, and the Revelations of Abu Ghraib"], 37 Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, 2004A. John Radsan, "Symposium on Reexamining the Law of War: The Collision Between Common Article Three and The Central Intelligence Agency"] 56 Catholic University Law Review, 2007Tommy Harnden , The Age, 6 March 2003, New York Times, 9 March 2003


Zubaydah was one of three high-value detainees to be waterboarded. The Bush administration in 2007 said that Zubaydah had been waterboarded once., Media Research Center, December 12, 2007 CNNPolitics.com, December 11, 2007 John Kiriakou, a CIA officer who had seen the cables regarding Zubaydah’s interrogation, publicly said in 2009 that Zubaydah was waterboarded once for 35 seconds before he started talking., Christian Science Monitor, 20 April 2009, ABC News, December 10, 2007, The New York Times, April 27, 2009

Intelligence sources claimed as early as 2008 that Zubaydah had been waterboarded no less than ten times in the span of one week. Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times within the month of August 2002, the month the CIA was authorized to use this enhanced interrogation techniques for him. Time Magazine, April 20, 2009. New York Times, April 19, 2009 Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2009 In January 2010, Kiriakou, in a memoir, said, "Now we know that Zubaydah was waterboarded eighty-three times in a single month, raising questions about how much useful information he actually supplied."

2003 transfer to Guantanamo

In August 2010 the Associated Press reported that the CIA, having concluded its agents had gotten most of the information from Abu Zubaydah, in September 2003 transferred him and three other high-value detainees to Guantanamo. They were held at what was informally known as "Strawberry Fields", a secret camp within the complex built especially for former CIA detainees. Concerned that a pending Supreme Court decision, Rasul v. Bush (2004), might go against the Bush administration and require providing the prisoners with counsel and having to reveal data about them, on March 27, 2004 the CIA took the four men back into custody and transported them out of Guantanamo to one of their secret sites.

 At the time, the moves were all kept secret. 

2005 Torture memos

The OLC provided additional guidance to the CIA regarding the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah and other high-value detainees. Its May 10, 2005 torture memo said that no more than 60 applications of water could be conducted in a 30-day period during waterboarding. But, that number applied only to those applications of "ten seconds or more."

A U.S. official with knowledge of the interrogation program reported in 2009 to Fox News that many of the applications lasted "a matter of seconds," and it was these less than ten-second applications "that created the huge numbers." He said "[a]ll of those individual pours were scrupulously counted by the CIA, according to the memos, to abide by the procedures set up for the waterboardings."Joseph Abrams , Fox News, 28 April 2009

The May 10, 2005 torture memo discussed the 2004 Department of Justice, Inspector General report, noting,