That means he was made to feel as if he were drowning an average of 6 times and day for 30 straight days.

Kind of puts that whole ticking clock scenario to rest.

From Emptywheel:

I’ve put this detail in a series of posts, but it really deserves a full post. According to the May 30, 2005 Bradbury memo, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003 and Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002.
On page 37 of the OLC memo, in a passage discussing the differences between SERE techniques and the torture used with detainees, the memo explains:

The CIA used the waterboard “at least 83 times during August 2002” in the interrogation of Zubaydah. IG Report at 90, and 183 times during March 2003 in the interrogation of KSM, see id. at 91.

Note, the information comes from the CIA IG report which, in the case of Abu Zubaydah, is based on having viewed the torture tapes as well as other materials. So this is presumably a number that was once backed up by video evidence.

Again, the point isn’t whether or not Mohammed is a bad man. There’s no doubt he is. The point is that we can’t allow ourselves to act just as despicable as him. I mean, Bush said they hate our freedoms, right? Well what happens when we compromise our values to mirror theirs? Doesn’t that make us less free?

Michael Reynolds had this thought over at a previous post…

There’s a price to be paid for living in a civilization as opposed to living in the jungle. We minimize many risks, but we assume some others. We may have to swallow hard at times, but it’s the only way to have a civilization. Civilization, like freedom itself, isn’t free.

Well said.

  • Consistent with my earlier comments, I don’t think that enhanced interrogation tactics were necessary in his case, although I would defer to the government if they claimed there was a pressing need. But don’t ask me to feel sorry for him that it was done. Those who condemn what the government did would do well to stick to the comfort of their vague abstractions. No matter what one’s general principles, only the very wettest of bleeding hearts could lament anything that happened to the 9/11 mastermind.

  • It’s not a question of what happened to KSM, Simon, it’s a question of what happened to Americans detailed to work as torturers, what happened to the intelligence services, what happened when this infection spread to the military, what happened to the reputation and moral standing of the United States.

    But I don’t expect you to understand any of that.

  • John E. Reb

    2,974 people died on 9/11. He was made to feel like he was drowning 183 times. We still owe him 2791.

  • Lynn

    I like when people like Michael Reynolds use condescending language like “But I don’t expect you to understand any of that” to convince people that another person’s particular view is incorrect. It’s not enough that he just writes what he, himself, thinks; he must punctuate it with something that demeans the other person. Your view aside (which, I’m not suggesting is invalid by saying this), just the fact that you said “But I don’t expect you to understand any of that” to Simon, who is simply offering his opinion, takes away some of your credibility as a lucid, fair-minded individual. You would come across a bit better if you refrained from needlessly insulting a complete stranger on the internet.

  • Somehow I feel less bothered by this than detaining suspected terrorists with no evidence who are 12 years old. This dude is responsible for killing 3,000 Americans. I’ll first feel sorry for the “collateral damage” the U.S. has caused in Iraq and Afghanistan before I feel sorry for this motherfucker.

  • Okay you liberal jerks, if it wasn’t Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, then who was it? Or are you too scared to answer?

  • Alvin

    In simpler terms for Simon: you can’t judge the cost of eating junk food constantly just by what you pay for the food. There is a long term cost to your health which affects what you pay for the doctor and any procedures, which affects the entire health care system.

    It’s like that with the cost of torture, except the stakes are much, much higher.

  • haha

    Your so brainwashed Simon. Thanks for the laugh.

  • Tillyosu

    “There’s a price to be paid for living in a civilization as opposed to living in the jungle”

    Indeed there is Michael, namely, that sometimes we have to take measures to keep the jungle at bay.

    Though I wouldn’t expect you to understand that.

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations. You have thrown out of the window everything America was supposed to be. And not only that, apparently a bunch of you actually enjoy and are in favor of it.

    This is not something done to an individual. This is the final transformation of a country with certain values into a country with different values. You have done this to yourselves.

    But of course nowadays ‘patriotic’ means wearing flag pins rather than defending your presumed ideals.

  • Kim

    I wonder if it occurred to them what his middle ‘name’ – Sheikh – means . Somehow I can’t see them waterboarding the Queen of England or would they ?

  • Mary Contrary

    In keeping the jungle at bay, Tilly, it would be nice if we all didn’t become animals ourselves.

    Though I would expect you understand that all too well.

  • egad

    Simon and Tillysou,

    Please tell us one verifiable time that such unlawful actions saved lives.

    Since the thread has a theme – I don’t expect you to understand that there is a difference between intelligence gathering and staged acts of vengeance carried out by a state supposedly bound by laws, including the Geneva Conventions.
    And this staged act had a run of 183 shows in a month. I guess that makes you so proud to be an American. I mean look at the guy – Middle Eastern, fur on his back – he was asking for it.

    So when one of our guys gets captured while on a cross border raid into Pakistan and video is of his torture I am sure you will show the same indifference to following the Geneva conventions.

    But you guys are still living in the reality-impaired, cock-rocking Bush years.

  • Bob

    KSM is a terrorist and a mastermind of 9/11. Why do each of you care if he was “tortured” 183 times or 1830 times? He’s a terrorist. A terrorist with information. Information that we need to prevent more attacks. Maybe those future acts would have taken my kids’ or friends’ lives. Maybe not. I propose we do WHATEVER IT TAKES to terrorists to prevent any future attack. This guy has no rights in my book and I am happy there are actually people who recognize and have the courage to protect America. Unlike this administration who apologizes for this “Dark” age – I think we should do what ever it takes to protect American lives regardless of what anyone else thinks.

    The rest of you wimps and losers can move to Canada, but stop getting in the way of real Americans that are trying to prevent more attacks and protect your sorry a$$.

  • Mario

    183 times in a month? Why? Wasn’t the first or second time the tortured the man effective? No? Enough said.

  • Well, why not waterboard the Queen? Because you don’t see, nor can imagine, the Queen of England terrorising innocents or associating with such like people, so, no, I can’t see them waterboarding the Queen of England. What a silly question. Your name does not determine your character, guilt or innocence.

  • sobe

    Now that torture is the law of the land, let’s waterboard Limbaugh. He is a clear and present danger to the country, and I’m sure he has some juicy stories to tell about the other Republicriminals. As a bonus, we could sell the videotapes on Amazon and apply the profits to the budget deficit.

  • I would like to remove the notion from this country, that we are a nation based out of either running from or fighting that which affects us. Lets leave the fight or flight response to those creatures who are incapable of instantiating the effects of their consciousness. And lets adopt a higher regard for transcending our problems with accepting them, and dealing with them uniquely, and demandingly.
    That said, let us also not forget that their is no provable distance between our means and our ends. So if torture is our means, then by what regard will it ever end? When you abuse, the abused continues on the inertia of your actions. Our torture, inspires torture. And will continue to torture, as torture has continued throughout history to this.
    Let us remember that the U.S. Constitution is by no means weak, or incapable of intrepid stability and persecution of crime. We are fully capable of retrieving the same information without the crutch of draconion “terrorizing” means. What we are capable of is revealing the egalitarian value of democracy, while not only attaining the information we want to hear, but paving the road to a robust and “free” future.
    My humble obeisance to the victims who suffered. Let us cherish their memory, by having the condemned witness the purity possible in our democratic system.

  • muffin7

    You say that we are acting “just as despicable as him.” You believe that simulated drowning is as despicable as aiding in the murder of innocent civilians by flying planes into the World Trade Center. That right there is some very twisted logic. I fail to see how one equates the other, they are other worlds in the spectrum of morality.

  • Tillyosu:

    Before you decide on the basis of no information that I’m a liberal weak-kneed pacifist, or however you’ve constructed your straw man: pro Kuwait war, pro-Afghanistan war, pro Iraq war, for the “surge” before McCain was.

    The price we pay for civilization does not involve sinking to the lowest common denominator and become morally indistinguishable from our enemies. We have to stand for something. We have to draw lines somewhere.

    What are you defending? Brutality for its own sake?

    This was no ticking time bomb scenario. And the notion that waterboarding works is now contradicted convincingly. 183 times? We’ve hung enemy soldiers for less.

    We ask a lot of our soldiers. We should not ask them to commit war crimes.

  • keith

    I see the US is bleating about Roxanna Saberi being given 8 years in jail.
    How may people were or are in Gitmo, having had no trial, nore any idea as to how long the’ll be in custody.

    And Clinton whines about a fair trial!!!

    Oh right gotcha…It’s OK when we do it…

  • TerenceC

    I hear about KSM being waterboarded multiple times and part of me says, “good he deserved it”. The somber self however says – “I wonder how many people were water boarded that were innocent of any crimes?”. And that thought is really the driving force behind my processes where this issue is concerned.

    Animals can’t help the way they act – they’re animals after all. People are responsible for their actions – although the people who committed these acts believe they aren’t. Do they claim to be animals therefore their behavior should be excused? If that’s the case then who was the trainer, the master – they are the one’s who committed the crime? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness seems to have taken a back seat to existence, restraint, and the pursuit of revenge.

  • Tillyosu

    Apparently my comment hit a nerve. I haven’t called you a “liberal weak-kneed pacifist”‘…or anything else for that matter. In fact, I didn’t think my comment was any more presumptive that the one immediately preceding it.

    For you to suggest that the men who waterboarded KSM are “morally indistinguishable” from KSM himself is utterly offensive. These men aren’t sadistic monsters who engaged in beheadings or indiscriminate murder. They are men who performed a likely unpleasant task to get information to protect their nation. Both the act and the intent are different.

    Am I defending brutality for its own sake (hey didn’t you say something about “straw men” earlier?)? Of course not. But I am defending certain acts of “brutality” if they are necessary to help protect a free and virtuous nation like our own. Were the firebombings at Dresden and the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki not “brutal?” Did they make us “morally indistinguishable” from the Nazis or the Japanese? Frankly, I find your argument a bit juvenile.

    As to the effectiveness of waterboarding: I disagree. Granted, it may not be the best tool for a “ticking time bomb” scenario, but there’s no question that it DID break KSM. I wonder, would we have had the same success over the same period of time by asking nicely?

  • gerryf

    How do you know waterboarding broke KSM? What specific information did waterboard reveal that led to saving one life? Please, I am all ears.

    A number of Bush flunkies say it helped prevent all kinds of terrorist actions all over the world, but they won’t specify any of them under the ever-so-helpful label of “national security”. If Dick Cheney said that he gave KSM a candy bar and it saved 117 lives, but refused to tell you how, when or where, would you believe him?

    But you are willing to believe the waterboarding resulted in actual intelligence that resulted in actual terrorist actions?

    They defend their actions with “phantom results” and so its OK? These are the same people who lied repeatedly and were caught lying repeatedly, but they are somehow telling the truth on torture?

    My God…..

    There is a recurrent theme in this thread–that the torture of KSM is acceptable, but it is not the results that seems to satiate everyone; it’s the revenge for KSM’s actions.

    Now, if you want to talk about that, well, that’s another discussion (heck, I might even be willing to back you up on that one)– but to cloak the torture in the guise of extracting information for some higher purpose, you are simply masking the real reason you don’t care if the US tortured.

    The real scary thing about this thread is that a lot of people seem to willing to believe that torture is effective, when experienced interrorgators argue that most of the time it is just the opposite.

    Spend a little time on the Internet (I know, not a great source) and you can find hundreds of people who have been involved in interrorgations who say that torture results in bad information, but you cannot find one–not one–case where someone stands up and says he tortured someone and used the information to stop one specific terrorist act.

    Why is that?

  • The firebombing of Dresden at al were acts of war carried out during battle. We have always drawn a clear line between enemy combatants (and collateral damage) and enemy prisoners.

    In fact, we have prosecuted war criminals on that basis. And we have executed enemy soldiers and civilians who failed to note the difference. We have steadfastly maintained that torture is morally contemptible and that it should be punished.

    We did not prosecute Wehrmacht or Imperial Japanese soldiers who fought against us and shot our men in battle. We did imprison and sometimes execute those who tortured or murdered helpless prisoners, whether civilian or military. The very techniques used on KSM were used by Khmer Rouge and other villains.

    This is a principle we established for ourselves and enforced. It’s the basis of part of our claim of moral superiority. We don’t torture. We don’t torture precisely because we are a moral nation that does not allow itself to descend to the level of our enemies.

    You propose abandoning our position, aligning ourselves with every junta or paranoid people’s republic that tortures. You propose a stand that strikes at the very core of who and what we are. All wrapped in self-justifying language that is indistinguishable from the justifications of those we rightly condemn as enemies of humanity.

    And you would leave us utterly unable to condemn similar actions taken against our soldiers or civilians.

    This is moral obtuseness, amorality that attacks the core of what this nation believes and stands for far more effectively than our declared enemies have yet managed.

  • Nicolae

    Ex-Italy Pres – 9-11 Was
    CIA/Mossad Operation
    By the Staff of American Free Press

    Former Italian President Francesco Cossiga, who revealed the existence of Operation Gladio, has told Italy’s oldest and most widely read newspaper that the 9-11 terrorist attacks were run by the CIA and Mossad, and that this was common knowledge among global intelligence agencies. In what translates awkwardly into English, Cossiga told the newspaper Corriere della Sera:

    “All the (intelligence services) of America and Europeknow well that the disastrous attack has been planned and realized from the Mossad, with the aid of the Zionist world in order to put under accusation the Arabic countries and in order to induce the western powers to take part in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    Cossiga was elected president of the Italian Senate in July 1983 before winning a landslide election to become president of the country in 1985, and he remained until 1992.

    Cossiga’s tendency to be outspoken upset the Italian political establishment, and he was forced to resign after revealing the existence of, and his part in setting up, Operation Gladio. This was a rogue intelligence network under NATO auspices that carried out bombings across Europe in the 1960s, 1970s and ’80s. Gladio’s specialty was to carry out what they termed “false flag” operations-terror attacks that were blamed on their domestic and geopolitical opposition.

    In March 2001, Gladio agent Vincenzo Vinciguerra stated, in sworn testimony, “You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple: to force the public to turn to the state to ask for greater security.”

    Cossiga first expressed his doubts about 9-11 in 2001, and is quoted by 9-11 researcher Webster Tarpley saying “The mastermind of the attack must have been a sophisticated mind, provided with ample means not only to recruit fanatic kamikazes, but also highly specialized personnel. I add one thing: it could not be accomplished without infiltrations in the radar and flight security personnel.”

    Coming from a widely respected former head of state, Cossiga’s assertion that the 9-11 attacks were an inside job and that this is common knowledge among global intelligence agencies is illuminating. It is one more eye-opening confirmation that has not been mentioned by America’s propaganda machine in print or on TV. Nevertheless, because of his experience and status in the world, Cossiga cannot be discounted as a crackpot.

  • Jeremy from NJ

    It’s a testament to Justin and everyone else who routinely posts and comments here that when I read this thread my first thought was:

    “What a bunch of crap!”

    I’ve grown to love this site as a forum for thoughtful commentary and genuine debate that’s relatively non-partisan.

    When other sites link to threads here, they should ask that people look and listen for a bit before shouting their vitriolic party rants. Y’all should save that stuff for Atlas Shrugs and Crooks and Liars.

  • James Stailey

    Glad Bushie is history, Glad Obama rules you now.

  • Tab

    Of course I don’t feel sorry for KSM. And yes, there’s even a part of me that’s kind of happy he suffered from all these waterboardings. I hope he was scared stupid. When I imagine how scared those people were on the top floors of the World Trade Center buildings, I’m not about to get all teary eyed when I get this news.

    Not giving ourselves the license to torture, however, is just one of those things we do to ensure freedom. I’m perfectly willing to sacrifice KSM to torture if there is even the smallest chance it will keep Americans alive. But sacrificing KSM means others have to be sacrificed too. That’s what you can’t stop. The argument that justifies the torture of KSM can easily be used to justify the torture of other similar men.

    It’s such a familiar argument it’s hardly worth repeating. But we still need to think about it. Is it worth it to torture some innocent person if there is a chance he might have information which could save American lives? How about torturing a 100 where 99 have no knowledge of anything. Is it worth torturing the innocent for information.

    A personal rocket launcher may be an effective deterrent to some criminals. But we know enough to understand that this deterrent is not worth the potential havoc a few rocket launchers could wreak on ourselves.

    Freedom isn’t cheap and it’s maintenance requires sacrifice on our part. As satisfying as 183 KSM waterboarding sessions is to my desire for justice and revenge, Freedom requires us to reject the personal satisfaction in favor of a higher ideal.

  • Bob

    Follow this link, especially GerryF:

    I stick by my comment earlier yesterday. I support the use of any torture against terrorists to save human lives, especially our own.

  • braininahat

    1) No, this doesn’t put the whole ticking timebomb scenario to rest at all.

    What’s the practical difference between (a) knowing that a guilty party knows the whereabouts of an activated bomb that’s to detonate at some time in the near future, and (b) knowing that a guilty party knows the whereabouts of an unactivated bomb that’s to be set off at some time in the near future by an accomplice? Answer: NOTHING.

    2) You shamelessly and quite idiotically say this: “The point is that we can’t allow ourselves to act just as despicable as him.”

    Really, I recall KSM plotting the 9/11 attack. You know, that inconvenient fact that many of us still remember. He murdered almost 3,000 innocent civilians that day. Hmmmm, let me get out my moral scale. On one side we have ‘waterboarding a single person’ and on the other we have ‘murdering 3,000 people’. Oh snap! You’re so right — they’re equal.

    Stop being a useful idiot long enough to realize that what the Bush Adminstration authorized was not only legal but morally permissible. Oh yeah, it also kept us safe from another attack, which some of us are still silly enough to believe is the primary responsibility of our government.