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CIA Man Who Claimed Waterboarding Worked Admits He Was Wrong

TPM Muckraker

Rachel Slajda | January 27, 2010, 9:33AM

In his new book, the former CIA operative who made the bombshell — and thoroughly debunked — claim that a terrorism suspect was made to talk after one waterboarding session has admitted he was wrong.

John Kiriakou made waves, and supplied the pro-torture crowd with ammunition, when he told ABC News in December 2007 that al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah gave information that prevented dozens of terrorist attacks after being waterboarded once, for about 30 seconds.

The claim was full of holes, and ABC admitted so, quietly. For one, Zubadayah was actually waterboarded at least 83 times, according to a Justice Department memo. And Kiriakou, the head of the man’s capture team, was not present for his interrogation and instead relied on reports.

Kiriakou admits he was wrong on the second-to-last page of his new book, titled “The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror,” according to Foreign Policy.

“What I told [ABC reporter] Brian Ross in late 2007 was wrong on a couple counts,” he wrote.

“I suggested that Abu Zubaydah had lasted only thirty or thirty-five seconds during his waterboarding before he begged his interrogators to stop; after that, I said he opened up and gave the agency actionable intelligence,” he wrote. But “I wasn’t there when the interrogation took place; instead, I relied on what I’d heard and read inside the agency at the time.”

“Now we know,” Kiriakou goes on, “that Zubaydah was waterboarded eighty-three times in a single month, raising questions about how much useful information he actually supplied.”

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