NEW YORK TIMES: Waterboarding, the near-drowning technique that top Obama administration officials have described as illegal torture, was used by C.I.A. interrogators 183 times on one prisoner from Al Qaeda and 83 times on another, according to a 2005 Justice Department legal memorandum. The release of the numbers is likely to become part of the debate about the morality and efficacy of interrogation methods that the Bush administration Justice Department declared legal even though the United States had historically treated them as torture.
A former C.I.A. officer, John Kiriakou, had told ABC News and other news media organizations in 2007 that the first prisoner questioned in the C.I.A.’s secret overseas detention program in 2002, Abu Zubaydah, had undergone waterboarding for only 35 second before agreeing to tell everything he knew. But the May 30, 2005 memo, quoting a 2004 investigation by the C.I.A. inspector general, says that C.I.A. officers used the waterboard at least 83 times during August 2002 against Abu Zubaydah. During March 2003, the memo says, the waterboard was used 183 times against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the admitted planner of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The New York Times reported in 2007 that Mr. Mohammed had been barraged with more than 100 different harsh interrogation methods, causing C.I.A. officers to worry that they might have crossed legal limits and halting his questioning. But the precise number and the exact nature of the interrogation method used so many times was not previously known.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has begun a yearlong investigation of the C.I.A. interrogation program, in part to assess claims of Bush administration officials that brutal treatment, including slamming prisoners into walls, shackling them in standing positions for days and confining them in small boxes, were necessary to get information. The fact that waterboarding was repeated so many times may raise questions about its effectiveness, as well as assertions by Bush administration officials that their methods were used under strict guidelines. A footnote to another 2005 Justice Department memo released Thursday said waterboarding was used both more frequently and with a greater volume of water than the C.I.A. rules permitted. MORE