[JURIST] A former CIA counter-terrorism agent alleges that top al Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was waterboarded [JURIST news archive] prior to the issuance of legal memos [JURIST report] justifying the practice, the BBC reported [text] Monday. John Kiriakou, who was part of the CIA team that captured Zubaydah in Pakistan, said that the detainee was subject to the controversial interrogation technique prior to the August 2002 issuance of legal guidance from the Office of Legal Counsel [official website]. Kiriakou claims that former US President George W. Bush [official profile] had approved the technique in writing before the memos were authored. Kiriakou transferred out of the counter-terrorism section in July 2002.
The use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" became a contentious issue following allegations of mistreatment [JURIST report] made by Kiriakou and others. Last week, it was reported that US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] is still considering appointing a special prosecutor [JURIST report] to investigate allegations of torture during the Bush administration. In April, members of the US House Judiciary Committee [official website] urged Holder to appoint [JURIST report] a special counsel to investigate allegations of torture against Bush administration officials. Earlier in April, Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official profile] reiterated his calls for a non-partisan truth commission [JURIST report] to investigate authorization of enhanced interrogation techniques. Calls for an independent investigation of Bush administration interrogation policies intensified after the Obama administration released four top secret memos [JURIST report] outlining the legal rationale behind controversial techniques. In January, outgoing Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] director Michael Hayden [JURIST news archive] defended [JURIST report] the use of controversial interrogation techniques.