The Senate report on the CIA's interrogation efforts released Tuesday includes a detailed description of the CIA detention and interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks.
After Mohammed was captured on March 1, 2003, he was interrogated in Pakistani custody, where the most coercive technique he experienced was sleep deprivation. Soon, he was transferred to a CIA-operated base in an undisclosed location. Before Mohammed arrived, the chief interrogator at the site had already gotten the green light from CIA headquarters to use "enhanced interrogation techniques," and was not required to use noncoercive tactics first.
Interrogators began using the enhanced practices within "a few minutes" of starting to question Mohammed. These included "facial and abdominal slaps, the facial grab, stress positions, standing sleep deprivation (with his hands at or above head level), nudity, and water dousing." The chief interrogator also ordered that Mohammed be subjected to rectal rehydration (a method where liquids are forced into the detainee via the anus) without determining whether the operation was medically necessary, a move which the chief later said demonstrated his "total control over the detainee."
Within the month, Mohammed was moved to another detention site, also at an undisclosed location, where officers were already preparing to use a water board to interrogate him.
Mohammed's waterboarding started on March 10. He was subjected to 15 separate sessions—and often to multiple sessions in one day—totalling at least 183 waterboarding incidents. During these sessions, Mohammed experienced what a medical officer called "a series of near drownings," during which he was "ingesting and aspiration [sic] a LOT of water." He provided some information during these sessions, much of which he later retracted.
As the detainee continued to be waterboarded, a medical officer raised concerns that sessions were occurring too frequently, in violation of the Office of Medical Services' draft guidelines. During one 25-hour period, Mohammed went through five waterboarding sessions. The officer's concerns were overridden.
In addition to waterboarding, Mohammed was subjected to extensive sleep deprivation, including one episode that lasted about 180 hours, or a week and a half.
Throughout Mohammed's interrogation, faulty intelligence led the CIA to press him for information on operations that later turned out not to exist, and to punish him when he could not produce the information.
Twenty-four days after Mohammed's capture, CIA officers abruptly stopped using enhanced interrogation techniques. The decision was not explained. CIA records and cables show that officers were increasingly frustrated with their inability to extract useful information or even know which of Mohammed's statements were true.
He was moved to another site within the next week, and by September was moved to the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.