Abu Zubaydah


Abu Zubaydah : biography

March 12, 1971 –
I struggled against the straps, trying to breathe, but it was hopeless. I thought I was going to die. During his waterboarding Abu Zubaydah lost control of his bladder; he later told the ICRC that "[s]ince then I still lose control of my urine when under stress." 

In 2008 the following politicians and administration officials: Richard Armitage, the former Deputy Secretary of State; Mike McConnell, the former National Intelligence Directorate; Tom Ridge, the former Homeland Security Secretary; and former Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain, declared waterboarding as unequivocal torture., Democracy Now, 18 July 2008

March 14, 2003 memo

Written by John Yoo to William J. Hartley, general counsel of DOD, at this request, Yoo concluded in his legal opinion that federal laws did not apply to torture and other harsh treatment applied by interrogators overseas. He wrote this five days before the US invasion of Iraq.

May 10, 2005 memo

Another memo addressed the legality of additional interrogation techniques such as nudity, dietary manipulation, abdominal slap, water dousing, and water flicking. Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel, May 10, 2005 It also expanded on the techniques of walling, stress positions, and sleep deprivation, allowing for an additional stress position and extended sleep deprivation up to 180 consecutive hours. The memo also outlined the amount of waterboarding applications a detainee could be subjected to. The waterboard can only be used with a given detainee during one 30-day period. During that 30-day period the waterboard can be used no more than 5 days. In any given day that waterboarding occurs interrogators may use no more than two “sessions”, with a “session” defined as the time that the detainee is strapped to the board, and that a session can last no more than 2 hours. During any session no more than six applications of water of 10 seconds or more can be used. The total cumulative time of all water applications in a 24 hour period may not exceed 12 minutes.

May 10, 2005 memo (combined interrogation techniques)

Another memo penned on May 10, 2005 authorized the use of the above outlined individual techniques in conjunction with one another, but stressed the importance of constant vigilance on the part of medical observers to ensure the techniques did not cause "severe physical or mental pain." Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel, May 10, 2005

May 30, 2005 memo

The final memo mentioned Abu Zubaydah several times. It claimed that due to the enhanced interrogation techniques, Zubaydah "provided significant information on two operatives, [including] José Padilla[,] who planned to build and detonate a ‘dirty bomb’ in the Washington DC area." This claim is strongly disputed by Ali Soufan, the FBI interrogator who first interrogated Abu Zubaydah following his capture, by traditional means. He said the most valuable information was gained before torture was used. Other intelligence officers have also disputed that claim.. New York Times, December 9, 2007 Soufan, when asked in 2009 by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse during a Congressional hearing if the memo was incorrect, testified that it was., Salon, May 14, 2009 The memo noted that not all of the waterboarding sessions were necessary for Abu Zubaydah, since the on-scene interrogation team determined he had stopped producing actionable intelligence. The memo reads:

This is not to say that the interrogation program has worked perfectly. According to the IG Report, the CIA, at least initially, could not always distinguish detainees who had information but were successfully resisting interrogation from those who did not actually have the information. See IG Report at 83–85. On at least one occasion, this may have resulted in what might be deemed in retrospect to have been the unnecessary use of enhanced techniques. On that occasion, although the on-scene interrogation team judged Abu Zubaydah to be compliant, elements within CIA Headquarters still believed he was withholding information. See id at 84. At the direction of CIA Headquarters, interrogators therefore used the waterboard one more time on Zubaydah.