Foreign Policy, CIA Man Retracts Claim on Waterboarding
Kiriakou, a 15-year veteran of the agency's intelligence analysis and operations directorates, electrified the hand-wringing national debate over torture in December 2007 when he told ABC's Brian Ross and Richard Esposito in a much ballyhooed, exclusive interview that senior al Qaeda commando Abu Zubaydah cracked after only one application of the face cloth and water.
A cascade of similar acclamations followed, muffling — to this day — the later revelation that Zubaydah had in fact been waterboarded at least 83 times.
Now comes John Kiriakou, again, with a wholly different story. On the next-to-last page of a new memoir, The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror (written with Michael Ruby), Kiriakou now rather off handedly admits that he basically made it all up.
Even if torture worked occasionally, I'd oppose it on basic moral grounds. It is disgusting and we should be above it. And in the long run, the more we torture our enemies the more they will torture our soldiers and civilians.
But for those who care, the evidence that torture has worked for us is actually pretty crummy.