CIA says used waterboarding on three suspects
By Randall Mikkelsen Tue Feb 5, 4:03 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The CIA used a widely condemned
interrogation technique known as waterboarding on
three suspects captured after the September 11
attacks, CIA Director Michael Hayden told Congress on
"Waterboarding has been used on only three detainees,"
Hayden told the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was
the first time a U.S. official publicly specified the
number of people subjected to waterboarding and named
Critics call waterboarding a form of illegal torture.
Congress is considering banning the technique.
Those subjected to waterboarding were suspected
September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and
senior al Qaeda leaders Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim
al-Nashiri, Hayden said at the hearing on threats to
the United States.
He said waterboarding has not been used in five years.
"The circumstances are different than they were in
late 2001, early 2002," Hayden said. "Very critical to
those circumstances was the belief that additional
catastrophic attacks against the homeland were
imminent. In addition to that, my agency ... had
limited knowledge about al Qaeda and its workings.
Those two realities have changed."
Hayden told reporters later that the interrogations of
Mohammed and Zubaydah were particularly fruitful.
From the time of their capture in 2002 and 2003 until
they were delivered to Guantanamo Bay prison in 2006,
the two suspects accounted for one-fourth of the human
intelligence reports on al Qaeda, Hayden said.
Some analysts have questioned Mohammed's credibility
under interrogation. But Hayden said most of the
information was reliable and helped lead to other al
He told the committee he opposed limiting the CIA to
using interrogation techniques permitted in the U.S.
Army Field Manual, which bans waterboarding. CIA
interrogators are better trained, and the agency works
with a narrower range of suspects in its
interrogations, he said.
Hayden said fewer than 100 people had been held in the
CIA's terrorism detention and interrogation program
launched after the September 11 attacks, with fewer
than one-third of them subjected to any harsh
But applying the field manual's limitations to the
CIA, he said, "would substantially increase the danger
The CIA is the only U.S. agency that uses harsh
interrogation techniques, National Intelligence
Director Michael McConnell told the hearing. The
entire military adheres to the Army Field Manual and
FBI Director Robert Mueller told the hearing his
agency does not use coercive techniques.
A senior intelligence official said after the hearing
that it was unclear whether the CIA could legally use
waterboarding in the future, given changes in U.S.
law. The Bush administration says it neither uses nor
The CIA said in December that it had destroyed
videotapes depicting the interrogations of Zubaydah
and Nashiri, prompting a Justice Department investigation.