Did US waterboarding techniques make an honest man out of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

Sam Johns

Washington (BNW) —
That Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he’s a hard man! He said he did this, he said he did that, he just confessing to everything old and new. You would too, if Cheney and Bush were waterboarding you for the truth. As a result, Mohammed has confessed to vast categories of worldwide plots and crimes.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who says he masterminded the September 11 attacks on the United States, told a closed military hearing at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay that he had also hatched, or helped, in 30 other conspiracies spanning the globe.

However, after being waterboarded by US so many times, this captured al Qaeda planner maybe exaggerating his real importance, just to stay above water.

Waterboarding is a form of torture, which is used to obtain information, coerce confessions, and for punishment and intimidation. Waterboarding consists of immobilizing an individual and pouring water over his face to simulate drowning, which produces a severe gag reflex, making the subject believe his death is imminent while ideally not causing permanent physical damage.

The practice garnered renewed attention and notoriety in September 2006 when reports charged that the Bush administration had authorized its use in the interrogations of U.S. War on Terrorism detainees. Though the Bush administration has never formally acknowledged its use, Vice President Dick Cheney told an interviewer that he did not believe "a dunk in water" to be a form of torture but rather a "very important tool" for use in interrogations, including that of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

According to Republican United States Senator John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, waterboarding is "very exquisite torture" and a mock execution, which can damage the subject's psyche "in ways that may never heal."

He listed attack plans in at least 17 countries, from a scheme to blow up the Panama Canal to attempts to assassinate former U.S. president Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul in the Philippines.

"He's claiming to be the superman and the superhero and the superterrorist," said Mustafa Alani, an al Qaeda expert at the Gulf Research Center in Dubai.

"It is a 'wish list', and it's possibly no more than ideas," said Alani who argued it was inconceivable al Qaeda would have taken the risk of entrusting its full range of operations to one man.

Most CIA analysts suggested Mohammed had exaggerated his role in a bid to win hero status among al Qaeda sympathizers, and possibly to try to deflect blame from other prisoners.

But Robert Baer, a former official at the Central Intelligence Agency, said Mohammed's rambling testimony raised suspicions about his treatment by CIA interrogators.

"Maybe also he wants to save others," said Abdel Bari Atwan, London-based editor of Arab newspaper Al-Quds.
Pace is right and should be supported "He is not a man who is trying to save his neck. No, he believes his death or his execution is a blessing, he will go to paradise. This is the psychology behind it."

And some said it probably suited the United States, which has failed to capture al Qaeda's top two leaders, to accept Mohammed's exaggerated account of his importance.

Asked if Mohammed was exaggerating, a U.S. official quoted the Pakistani's own statement: "I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z."

"These are his words," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "That's what you need to remember. This guy is the real deal."

He cited the alleged practice of "waterboarding", a technique to extract confession by submerging a prisoner and making him think he is about to drown.

"Once you rough up a witness with waterboarding, they figure out what narrative you want and that's the narrative they tell. And that suspicion is always going to be out there. That's what we're left with," Baer said.

The report of the 9/11 Commission, which investigated the al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington in 2001, described Mohammed as the "principal architect" and "chief manager" of the suicide hijack operation.

It also touched on his involvement in other operations, the biggest being a plan foiled by Philippine authorities in the mid-1990s to bomb 12 U.S. commercial jets over the Pacific.

But the list presented by Mohammed to his March 10 Guantanamo hearing was far more extensive.

It included apparent references to actual attacks like the Bali bombings of October 2002 and the bombing of a Kenyan hotel the

But it also cited numerous plots, which never happened. Targets included: iconic landmarks like New York's Empire State Building and London's Big Ben; key infrastructure like Heathrow airport and U.S. nuclear plants; NATO headquarters and U.S. and Israeli embassies in a string of countries.

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