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. jeff

    I would have drawn and quartered them instead of waterboarding

    April 21, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  2. Kevin in Ohio

    There was no physical injury to these terrorists. Zero intent to harm, kill, or maim. The result was information that potentially saved many American lives. To even think of calling this torture or to call for punishment is insane. If we allow the current course to continue, there will be no America, no free speech, no bill of rights within your chiildren's lifetime. That will be the legacy of Obama.

    April 21, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  3. Carl from MI

    Why are we not prosecuting these guys again?


    It's been proven over and over again the torture is completely and totally unreliable. These people doing this are thugs and criminals and should stand trial for this.

    The Nazi's were prosecuted for 'Just following orders,' and so should these guys!!

    April 21, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  4. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Absolutely yes. There's no question about this regardless of whatever information Cheney blithely states we gained. Bush and Cheney diminished us as a nation by torturing prisoners and then LIED about it over and over again. Is there any foul deed we cannot suspect them of condoning? NO.

    April 21, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  5. Steve Watson

    I think that the people involved in these acts of interrogation are heroes that were defending our country against a bunch of murderous, crazy, brainwashed, killers and they should receive all of our thanks for a job well done. If you think what they did was wrong, well maybe it was, but they protected us all. Drop it now and move on. I'm sick of Americans going after other Americans for petty political gains, at the expense of endangering our country. Obama and his gang of inept novices are making us all less safe. There are serious killers out there that intend to end it for all of us...remember the World Trade Center? That wasn't a movie.

    April 21, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  6. Dace Tucson AZ

    You know Jack the sadist Cheney would be in his evening lingerie with a cigarette watching on video and screaming for more torture to satisfy his sick needs.

    April 21, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  7. John

    Exposing America's tactics in its war against its enemies is like shooting oneself on the foot. America's enemies are worst. They kidnap, torture and behead Americans. The blow Americans into smithereenswith their suicide bombers and IEDs-road side bombings. They commit genocides and massive destructions as September 11, 2001 and since then. They have NO conscience!

    April 21, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  8. Jermoe, Choteau, Mt.

    It was a crime in WW2. Japanese soldiers were executed but I think mostly imprisoned for long terms for waterboarding, what has changed? It is a war crime by international law. We either follow the laws or we are law breakers. You can not have it both ways, Mr. Cheney had better keep his mouth shut and lay low. I believe he has a serious problem and he will deserve what he gets! Same thing on down the line. This is a low point in United States history. And nothing was prevented like the supposed attack on Los Angeles, B.S... The truth is Cheney and the boys FAILED to prevent 9-11. There are a lot of unanswered questions from that day.

    April 21, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  9. Andy Duffy

    I guess the bush admin officials can point out that it wasn't inhumane and it wasn't torture since they were able to do it atleast 183 times to one person alone.

    If you allow your goal posts to be adjusted everytime you need it but you insist that the opposition play by the rules it will fall on deaf ears...

    a very dangerous thing to be doing.. look at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo stuff..

    April 21, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  10. judyo

    President Obama and all future presidents should be careful: what goes around comes around.

    April 21, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  11. Pete

    Yes, it's a crime.

    If a country like Venezuela did the exact same thing, the GOP would be screaming "war crime" from the mountaintops. Laws and treaties about torture are meaningless if the United States won't follow them.

    Prosecute these guys and put them in prison. If we don't , then the US permanently abdicates its ability to ever lecture any country about anything ever again.

    April 21, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  12. Karl Rove

    A crime is a crime, no matter who does it!

    All the Republicans that were outraged to the point of impeaching a President over lying about oral sex, should be more than willing to prosecute officials who perpetrated torture and then lied about it.

    Let's appoint a special prosecuter to investigate this and give them full range to look into any act of the prior administration. If we spend a fraction of the time and money we devoted to investigating Clinton, we will undoubtedly end up locking up most of the top officials, including Bush and Cheney.

    April 21, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  13. vincent noronha

    I'd like to thank Obama for doing the right thing on banning torture. My respect for the US has grown. You have a very capable man who believes in doing the right thing. May God continue to Bless his efforts.
    May the US shine in its old glory of being a humane nation, not a nation of policemen.

    April 21, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. Marsha

    Talk about over the top and waisting time...what differentiates these waterboarders from the Nazi guards or White Supremacists? I remember the picture with the terror suspect in lewd positions with a military personnel doing terrible things to him and I think what's wrong with these kinds of people? I remember seeing a picture of a black man being lynched in the South and throngs of people cheering and partying...what's wrong with these people? Why are they so full of hatred?

    April 21, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  15. Ancient Texan

    President Obama might ought to remember what goes around comes around. The next administration just might decide to try the Obama admimistration for seizing publically held corporations in a power grab of history making magnitude.

    April 21, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  16. Jeramey


    Obama said that HE would not be initiating the investigation into the documents because he prefers to focus on the future. I don't remember him ever saying that an investigation was completely off the table.

    Let's be honest here... would you really want the President to be heading up an investigation over his predecessor's administration while dealing with an economic disaster, trying to improve our status in: the Middle East, Western Europe, and the Americas? Really? Not to mention all of the polarization from his bailout plan, a former VP who won't shut up, and so much media scrutiny that he can't take a crap without someone judging whether or not he's on a healthy enough diet to be our commander-in-chief?

    Come on people...we all know that if he were to investigate the past administration, there would be so much protest and blowback from the right that it would dwarf anything else he needs to get done.

    Until you can learn to multitask like a quad-core processor... leave the man alone.

    April 21, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  17. wagon

    No. What else do you want to know Jack?

    I have no problem sleeping at night knowing we did this. We weren't pulling random individuals off the street and torturing them. These aren't kids who were arrested and tortured for having a little bit of pot found during a traffic stop. These were animals intent on doing damage to the United States and killing people. I really don't care.

    In the end, when I've had this discussion with my more – um – progressive friends, I use the example of the movie " A Few Good Men". Would you rather have Jack Nicholson's character defending the US or Tom Cruise's character. I choose Jack Nicholson and my guess is most people would as well. It applies to our war on terror or whatever the heck our moron head of Homeland Security is calling it.

    "I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it."

    Right on, Jack Nicholson. Right on.

    April 21, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  18. Kirk Babbitt

    Who told you and the NYT that this occured 260+ times. A blogger! Great investigating.

    April 21, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  19. eric in texas

    How many died in 9/11...3000? So I think they have about 2734 more times before we even get close to being even.

    Really and truly, we are the only people who abide by the Geneva Convention. If an Al Qaeda member captures an enemy combatant waterboarding would be the least of their worries. You want the military to fight a war, but you want to but rules in place that only they have to obey. That is like having a heavyweight boxing match but one person isn't allowed to punch with their right hand.

    As Jack Nicholson once said to Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men:

    "I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, then question the manner in which I provide it." No person in this country deserves, needs or is entitled to know what means are taken to protect this country. Just let the men and women who are brave enough to do it, do it and get on with your lives!

    April 21, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  20. jp,michigan

    Why don't we count the number of be-headings since the War in Iraq started? Water boarding is a walk in the park!

    April 21, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  21. BigJohn

    The al Qaeda hoodlums walked out of prison which is a lot more than can be said about their victims. Where is the well-renown Liberal outcry for the dead and dying who were killed and mutilated by these slack-jawed cowardly thugs? The media continually forgets which God-blessed nation allows them to write such tripe.

    April 21, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  22. Don from Delaware

    And who's paying the water bill?

    April 21, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  23. Make America Great Again

    water boarding = torture.

    Is torture a crime?


    April 21, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  24. Gordon in Chicago

    It certainly doesn't constitute a crime to a Republican.

    April 21, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  25. Liberal and Proud of It dot com

    Here's how we can all assess waterboarding, to determine if it is torture. Let's ask for young healthy volunteers to be waterboarded in exchange for a million bucks. We could broadcast it on TV. Adult citizens would then be able to judge for themselves whether it is torture. Some say yes, others say no. We'll just have to judge with our own eyes.

    We don't want to be like the good Germans who had no idea where all those Jews were going. We want to know what our government is up to.

    April 21, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
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