A soldier assigned to the 115th Military Police Company of the Rhode Island Army National Guard stands watch in a guard tower at Camp Delta, Joint Task Force Guantanamo  in 2010.

A soldier assigned to the 115th Military Police Company of the Rhode Island Army National Guard stands watch in a guard tower at Camp Delta, Joint Task Force Guantanamo in 2010. Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth/Air Force file photo

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The Torturers Wanted to Stop, but the CIA Kept Going

An interrogator testified that even after prisoner Abu Zubaydah started cooperating, the waterboarding continued.

A psychologist who helped the CIA torture people told a chilling story this week at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, where legal cases are proceeding against five defendants accused of murdering almost 3,000 people on September 11, 2001. James Mitchell, one of the architects and practitioners of waterboarding, still defends the interrogation method, which involves strapping human beings to a gurney, covering their nose and mouth with a rag, and forcing water into their nasal cavity and lungs as they squirm. The technique is intended to break people by subjecting them to the primal terror of drowning.

Prisoner Abu Zubaydah was terrorized that way 83 times at a black site in Thailand. According to the Senate torture report, he was “completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.” That report also noted that “non-stop use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques was disturbing to CIA personnel at Detention Site Green,” and that they objected, but were “instructed by CIA headquarters to continue using the techniques.” It added that the techniques continued for “more than two weeks” after CIA personnel on-site questioned the legality of what they were doing.