Thailand tortures: US prisoner waterboarded 83+ times-NYT

May 23, 2012

An Excellent Reason Not to Torture Prisoners

Andrew Rosenthal

The New York Times: May 22, 2012

http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/22/an-excellent-reason-not-to-torture-prisoners/

 

If there is one case that most completely represents everything that was morally wrong, legally indefensible and pragmatically foolish about President George W. Bush’s detention policies, it is the case of Abu Zubaydah.

Mr. Zubaydah, a 41-year-old Saudi citizen of Palestinian descent is said to have managed a network of terrorist training camps. He was arrested in 2002 and is in custody at the Guantanamo Bay prison. He has not been charged but, last week, his lawyer requested a military trial. Mr. Zubaydah may never get one, because Mr. Bush’s policies made a fair trial impossible.

According to numerous news reports, the two F.B.I. agents who led Mr. Zubaydah’s initial interrogation used standard, legal techniques including rapport-building, and these proved effective: He named Khalid Shaikh Mohammed as the main organizer of the 9/11 plot and said that Jose Padilla planned to use a “dirty bomb” to attack a U.S. city.

Later, Mr. Zubaydah was turned over to the C.I.A. and to a secret prison in Thailand, where he was water-boarded at least 83 times in one month. In the early 2000s, such treatment was routine: The Bush administration reasoned that, after 9/11, anyone who objected to torture was hopelessly naïve. Anything short of torture, they seemed to think, meant coddling terrorists.

But Mr. Zubaydah’s interrogators told the Times that, after being water-boarded, he revealed nothing more of value. The C.I.A. succeeded only in tainting the evidence against him.

Mr. Zubaydah therefore falls into the fifth of five categories of Guantanamo detainees that Mr. Obama outlined in his speech on detention policy in May 2009: “a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States.”

These detainees will be held until the war on terror is over. In other words, probably until they die. Mr. Zubaydah’s lawyer, Joseph Marguiles, wrote to the military commission chief last week explaining that his client wants to prove his innocence. Or maybe he wants to make a political point. Either way, it seems unlikely he will get his wish.

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