Former CIA officer John Kiriakou’s account to ABC News in 2007 that waterboarding was used sparingly and had elicited valuable intelligence helped change the public debate in favor of harsh interrogation techniques, the New York Times reports.
From the Times:
His ABC interview came at an especially delicate juncture in the debate over the use of torture. Weeks earlier, the nomination of Michael Mukasey as attorney general was nearly derailed by his refusal to comment on the legality of waterboarding, and one day later, the C.I.A. director testified about the destruction of interrogation videotapes. Mr. Kiriakou told MSNBC that he was willing to talk in part because he thought the C.I.A. had “gotten a bum rap on waterboarding.”
Kiriakou’s account was contradicted by the declassified legal memos President Obama released two weeks ago. A footnote said 2 suspects were waterboarded 266 times. Kiriakou also didn’t have first-hand knowledge of the treatment of captured al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah, the Times reports. His unverified account nonetheless “richoted” around the Web.