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KSM Interrogator: We Were Told Waterboarding was Okayed By Congress

KSM Interrogator: We Were Told Waterboarding was Okayed By Congress

James Mitchell, who was responsible for interrogating Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, said that he was told waterboarding had been authorized by Congress, the DOJ, and the White House when he was working to interrogate Abu Zubaydah on Monday’s “Kelly File” on the Fox News Channel.

Mitchell said it was accurate that DOJ, the White House, and Congress had said waterboarding was allowed, and “they [the CIA] were very, very careful to make sure that this thing has been approved. And so the situation that I found myself in personally was one where it was clear that we had been attacked, it was clear that there was a second wave coming…and there was all this pressure not just from the CIA, but from Washington and everywhere they were saying, ‘the gloves are off. We have to take extraordinary measures.’ That sort of stuff, and it was in the context of that that they were putting this program together, and they just wanted to be sure it was legal.”

Mitchell also stated that “the [protocol] basically says you can hold a single waterboard[ing] session for 20 minutes, that means the person can lay on the board for 20 minutes, and then you can administer water from 20 to 40 seconds, allow the person to get a full breath, and then go another 20 to 40 seconds. But it became clear to me during the first time we were doing that waterboarding, that that was too much water. So, what I did was, I reduced the amount of time that we did pours. So, for example if you look at page 76 of the CIA IG report down at the bottom, it says that the average pour lasted about ten seconds. So, what we decided to do was to do lots of very small ones and only a couple of longer ones, we would do two that were 20 seconds and one that was 40 seconds.”

He continued that “the net result of that though is the number of pours went up, the number of repetitions went up. So, when they look there and say ‘he was waterboarded 83 times.’ He wasn’t waterboarded 83 times. There were 83 separate pours and each pour was on average about ten seconds. some were 40 seconds. some were 20 seconds. but we didn’t feel it was, I don’t know how to say it any other way, we didn’t feel it was right to use as much water as we were authorized.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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