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Friday, 16 March 2007

Can a tortured person's testimony be trusted?

On Thursday, NBC's Today Show explored whether the confessions of alleged 9/11 "mastermind" Khalid Sheikh Mohammed can be trusted, since he claimed to have been tortured after being detained.

"Let's talk about the issue of torture," NBC's Matt Lauer said. "He says in his statement that he didn't make this statement under duress or pressure, but he does also say that he was tortured by the CIA after his capture."

Last September, CIA sources told ABC News that the harshest technique they were authorized to use on "high-value detainees, such as the 9/11 attacks architect Khalid Sheikh Mohamed...was called 'water boarding,' in which a prisoner's face was covered with cellophane, and water is poured over it (pictured above) -- meant to trigger an unbearable gag reflex."

Lauer notes that "this is a subject" that he discussed during a September of 2006 interview with President Bush, in which he asked, "I mean, if, in fact, there was water boarding used with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and for the viewers, that’s basically when you strap someone to a board and you make them feel as if they’re going to drown by putting them underwater, if that was legal and within the law, why couldn’t you do it at Guantanamo? Why did you have to go to a secret location around the world?"

"I’m not going to talk about techniques," Bush responded to Lauer in September. "And, I’m not going explain to the enemy what we’re doing. All I’m telling you is that you’ve asked me whether or not we’re doing things to protect the American people, and I want the American people to know we are doing so."

Lauer wondered "how credible" was "the laundry list of targets" named by Mohammed, if they were named after he had been water boarded: "Won't you kind of spew out all kinds of locations just to make it stop?"