ABC: CIA officer says Zubaydah waterboarding was torture but also necessary

I doubt ABC picked up this report from the Puffington Host.

In the first public comment by any CIA officer involved in handling high-value al Qaeda targets, John Kiriakou, now retired, said the technique broke Zubaydah in less than 35 seconds.

“The next day, he told his interrogator that Allah had visited him in his cell during the night and told him to cooperate,” said Kiriakou in an interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC News’ “World News With Charles Gibson” and “Nightline.”

Funny how Allah’s timing coincides so cleanly with the waterboarding, innit?

Kiriakou says waterboarding is torture and we shouldn’t do it. But.

“What happens if we don’t waterboard a person, and we don’t get that nugget of information, and there’s an attack,” Kiriakou said. “I would have trouble forgiving myself.”

Which is pretty much the same logic I followed regarding the treatment of high value targets in this post. It’s obvious in retrospect that the waterboarding of animals like Zubaydah was an exercise in restraint, not an orgy of mistreatment. In the wake of 9-11 it might have been easy for officers to justify all kinds of treatment that, thank goodness, they don’t seem to have even contemplated. They used one method that was known not to leave lasting damage and that breaks subjects very quickly.