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CIA chief confirms use of waterboarding on 3 terror detainees

[JURIST] The CIA has used waterboarding [JURIST news archive] "on only three detainees" since September 11, 2001, CIA Director Michael Hayden [official profile] told the US Senate Intelligence Committee [official website] Tuesday. Stipulating that the interrogation technique has not been used by the CIA in five years, Hayden for the first time named the men waterboarded: accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], senior al Qaeda member Abu Zubaydah [BBC profile, JURIST news archive], and alleged mastermind of the 2000 USS Cole bombing Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri [GlobalSecurity profile; JURIST news archive]. Hayden said that at the time of the waterboardings, officials feared "imminent attack" on the US. He also said that less than one-third of the roughly 100 terror detainees held in CIA custody were exposed to any kind of coercive interrogation.

The controversy over whether waterboarding constitutes illegal torture first loomed large late last year as then-Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey tried to duck the issue [JURIST report] in his confirmation hearings and former CIA agent John Kiriakou unofficially confirmed the use of waterboarding [JURIST report] during interrogations of US terror suspects. Also in December, Hayden sent a memo [JURIST report] to CIA employees saying that the agency videotaped the 2002 interrogations of Zubaydah and al-Nashiri, but that the tapes were destroyed [JURIST news archive] in 2005 amid concerns that they could be leaked to the public and compromise the identities of the interrogators. Last month, the now Mukasey-led Department of Justice announced that it had opened a criminal investigation [JURIST report] into the destruction of the tapes. Reuters has more.

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