April 21st, 2009
02:40 PM ET
14 years ago

Cafferty: Waterboarding 2 members of al Qaeda 266 times constitute a crime?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/20/cia.waterboarding/art.khalid.sheikh.mohammed.afp.gi.jpg caption=" Join the conversation on Jack's blog."]
Those hotly debated Bush era interrogation memos include this little nugget: CIA officials waterboarded two al Qaeda suspects 266 times. Interrogators waterboarded Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August of 2002; and they used the tactic against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of the 9/11 attacks, 183 times in March of 2003. That’s about six times a day.

These memos show waterboarding was used more frequently and with a greater volume of water than CIA rules allowed. Time magazine suggests the use of the tactic seemed to “occasionally get out of control.” Don’t you wonder what they learned from Khalid Sheik Mohammed the 183rd time they waterboarded him that they didn’t know after waterboarding him 182 times?

In an about-face today, President Obama opened the door to the possibility of criminal prosecution for former Bush officials who authorized this stuff. He says it will be up to the attorney general to decide whether or not to prosecute them. Up until now, the president insisted there would be no investigation of those who ordered the torture, or those who carried it out.

To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion, click here.

Filed under: Cafferty File
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. Objective Thinking

    Well I'm not sure if any of us are torture experts.

    Is torture expected to either work or not work the first time? Or is it something that was MEANT to be repeated before an individual cracks and tells you everything? Perhaps the repetition itself is part of the formula.

    April 21, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. John Anthony

    Let's end this nonsense right now. Waterboarding (whether done once or done 2,006 times) is torture; torture is a war crime; those who order and perform torture are war criminals; war criminals must be tried, convicted, an punished. Period. End of discussion. Hear that, Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, and Yoo? Shall we have a Spanish Court spell it out more clearly for you?

    April 21, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  3. aishah haqq

    shocking, no. sad, yes. the saddest part is that I am not shocked.

    April 21, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  4. Sharon Kitchen

    I am sure there are more little "nuggets.".......when the people start getting little "notices" in the mail..........."come to court ones"....................I bet they go into offices real quick.

    Wonder who they will give up?

    More news........shortly.

    It is about to get HOT in the ol' kitchen,or as you say ,"ugly out there".

    one thing?.....Is Cheney going to be quite now?

    April 21, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  5. Kurt C.

    Nope. We learned things that saved peoples' lives. Small chance that the Obama administration will declassify that information, though. And no, I don't wonder what they learned after waterboarding him the 183rd time. I wonder how he could possibly be a human being and plot to kill 3000 people. Maybe you should think about that, too. Have you ever wondered about that???

    And I guess "The buck stops here" doesn't apply to the Obama administration. We'll let the AG worry about prosecutions. Sounds like Bill Clinton all over again.

    April 21, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  6. Angelique

    I want to see the bush administration held accountable for its use of torture, the likes of which have only been exceeded in recent history by Adolph Hitler. I hope that Obama has the grit to do this. I want to see them punished. I want to see George Bush behind bars and Dick Cheney put somewhere UNDER the jail. They are criminals - not just war criminals. They destroyed everything they touched - from our economy to the reputation of America as a just and ethical country.

    April 21, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  7. Maren

    Yes, it's a crime. Torture is a crime. It's absurd Cheney thinks it's justified because of the information they received. The Bush administration's torture policies may very well cause my son to be tortured in the future. It is so sad Cheney does not understand that. They crossed a line that can have devastating consequences for American soldiers for decades. I think he's a war criminal and should be prosecuted to send a message to the world that we condemn those actions.

    April 21, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  8. seebofubar

    Weather you agree with the method not, waterboarding is not torture. It is a scare tactic that causes no perminent harm. There is no legal foundation for even an investigation. If waterboarding these scums 1000 times would save one life then so be it. The pepole who should be indicted are the sick ones who value terrorists comfort over human life, they make me sick.

    April 21, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. Mo in DC

    We are entering into dangerous waters if we proceed with this.

    The division that will occure if that happens will be great.

    April 21, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. obama sells out US

    Cafferty – it protected you against terroist so get over it

    April 21, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  11. JS007

    1. Writing the memos was criminal negligence or worse.
    2. Acting on the memos was a crime the first time it was done.
    3. Obama ignoring this would also constitute a crime (according to international law).

    NO INVESTIGATION/PROSECUTION = IMPUNITY. This is a crime against future generations, as if we have already not done enough to them.

    Why would anyone trust the guys who got the Iraq WMD and Katrina so wrong to know who to torture?

    Today it is the suspected terrorists rotting in prison with no charges or trial, tomorrow it could be journalists (who were already illegally spied on), the day after tomorrow it could be any person that speaks out of turn. Electorates unwilling to stand up for human rights will eventually lose their own.

    April 21, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  12. shucks

    President Obama not acting on these new revelations would be a crime. These people tortured prisoners. End of story. They should be held for their crimes. The fact that they did it so many times shows that the people doing the torture were doing it as entertainment. They didn't learn anything new after the prisoners realized it wasn't going to kill them, and just grew to tolerate it. How sick our military was under Bush and Cheney. This is all being brought to light so these kind of atrocities never happen again.

    April 21, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. Robin

    Why don't we ask the victims of The World Trade Center, the Pentegon, and Flights 11, 175, 93, and 77. Oh wait, we can't. They died horrific deaths.

    3 people have been waterboarded since 2003. Considering one of them is the "self-proclaimed mastermind" of 9/11, I have no pity. Maybe I'm cynical, but I have not forgotten 9/11, and I have not forgiven.

    Too bad these CIA agents are being portrayed as scapegoats, instead of heros who put their lives on the line to see America safe. Why doesn't Obama just release their names, addresses, and next of kin while he is at it.

    President Obama is very arrogant for having such a thin political resume.

    April 21, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  14. New Yorker

    As I've said before but CNN won't post it: Obama and all of his administration would be singing a new tune about torture if their young children /relatives were taken captive by terrorists and the only way to extract info would be to torture (God forbid they ever be put to the test).

    Yeah, I can already hear it:

    "No, they would use diplomacy"


    April 21, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  15. mjm

    That's what you get for planning to fly planes into our buildings.

    they should have done it 3000 times

    April 21, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  16. Jack

    Khalid Sheik Mohamamed should have been waterboarded 500 times. And he should have been waterboarded by the survivors of 9/11.

    April 21, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  17. mark

    If we just hug the islamic radicals they will start to like us!

    April 21, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  18. Indigo

    President Obama has already said that this practice will not continue under his administration. Prosecuting those involved will not change what has been done in the past. I prefer not to start acting like the republicans. Prosecuting these individuals will not get the economy going or get us on a healthy progessive path of sustainablity. I know this is going to be a shock to you, because the republicans like to claim Christian values, but the bible says "vengence is mine saith the Lord" They will get what they deserve.


    April 21, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  19. Melissa

    Torture is torture and its always wrong. Its against international law. Yes, its criminal.

    April 21, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  20. Ed E

    I would call it quits at 270 times myself so 266 seems OK.

    April 21, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  21. David White

    It is not up to the President to decide whether or not potential crimes were committed nor to decide whether or not to prosecute. That is within the purview of the Justice Department and part and parcel of this nation's separation of powers.

    The President can lobby one way or another, but in the end it is not his decision to make.

    April 21, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  22. David from NYC

    If this practice had happened to a couple of Americans, we'd be screaming for retribution. Why should a double standard apply?

    April 21, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  23. wishing

    Yes it does, Jack, and at the highest levels of government. If you let the yahoos, blow-hards and hot-heads determine government policy, we'd be torturing everyone. This is why this country has had and we should uphold a policy against torture, despite what the former vice president and his former lackeys, who use to direct the CIA, are now saying.

    April 21, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  24. Repuges are sore loosers

    Cafferty you are the voice of sanity in a world of insanity. That's a good question why did it take a 183rd time to get what they wanted to hear from this guy. Also how do they decipher if the information they get is true or false? because if I were being totured I would surely tell you whatever you wanted to hear to make you stop drowning me with water or making me sit back on my knee's or whatever torture techniques they used. That is why toture should not be used because it is ineffective in obtaining useful information, plain and simple. I really think these guy got carried away and that is also why it shouldn't be used. The Republican party have the nerve to say we must support our troops but they put them at risk by torturing our enemies and making it okay to do the same to our guy's. We have double standards here in the United States , one set for the other countries and another set for us.

    April 21, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  25. Richard Larson

    Waterboarding, even once, is a violation of the Geneva Conventions. It is too bad that the self described "super patriotic" leadership in the Bush Administration, and indeed, in all previous GOP administrations after the Nixon years, has felt very deeply that America cannot be held to the same high standards that our closest allies hold for themselves.

    As a young soldier, in the mid 1960"s, I was required to attend numerous classes on the "Law of War". Compliance with those conventions was demended even though our allies felt they need not comply. The reality was that in Viet Nam, we captured many non-uniformed, enemy combatants, the VC, and we always tried to make it a practice to deal with them according to the conventions. We captured them, then turned them over to the ARVN for internment once we had debriefed them.

    The biggest problem with waterboarding is that the possibility of killing the subject due to the panic induced, especially if the person suffers from a cardio/pulmonary problem or from panic induced by claustrophobia. Then you've gained nothing.

    April 21, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
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