WASHINGTON (AFP) – CIA interrogators waterboarded Al-Qaeda’s September 11 attack mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times and another terror suspect, Abu Zubaydah, 83 times, The New York Times reported Monday.
Citing a 2005 Justice Department legal memorandum, the newspaper said the agency used the simulated drowning technique on the two Al-Qaeda operatives far more than had been previously reported.
The report recalls that in 2007, former CIA officer John Kiriakou told media organizations that Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew.
Mohammed, the self-described planner of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, was captured in Pakistan in March 2003. Zubaydah was caught in 2002.
Last year, Mohammed was charged with war crimes and murder by a US military commission and faces the death penalty if convicted.
The Times said the release of the numbers is likely to become part of the debate about the morality and efficacy of interrogation methods that the Justice Department under the administration of former president George W. Bush declared legal.
President Barack Obama plans to visit Central Intelligence Agency headquarters Monday and make public remarks to employees.
Last week, Obama granted immunity to CIA officers involved in tough terror interrogations as he released graphic memos detailing harsh methods approved by ex-president George W. Bush.
In the documents, Bush-era legal officials argued that such tactics that Obama has since disowned such as simulated drowning, facial slapping, the use of insects to scare prisoners and sleep deprivation did not amount to torture.