Friday, September 5, 2014

Washington Post: ISIS Adopted Waterboarding From CIA

The Washington Post reports that ISIS appears to have modeled its waterboarding technique on the CIA's use of the torture practice. ISIS waterboarded, among others, U.S. journalist James Foley (left), whom it later beheaded. This would confirm the warnings of critics that the CIA's use of waterboarding would put Americans at risk of being tortured in the same way:

James Foley was among the four who were waterboarded several times by Islamic State militants who appeared to model the technique on the CIA’s use of waterboarding to interrogate suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Waterboarding often involves strapping a person down on a gurney or bench and pouring cold water over a cloth covering the face. It causes the sensation of drowning. “The wet cloth creates a barrier through which it is difficult — or in some cases not possible — to breathe,” according to a Justice Department memo in May 2005 about the CIA’s use of the technique.

...“They knew exactly how it was done,” a person with direct knowledge of what happened to the hostages said of the Islamic State militants. The person, who discussed the hostages’ experience on the condition of anonymity, said the captives were held in Raqqah, a city in north-central Syria.

...Waterboarding was one of the interrogation techniques adopted by the CIA and sanctioned by the Justice Department when the agency opened a series of secret overseas prisons to question terrorism suspects.

...Critics of waterboarding have said for years that the practice endangered Americans, putting them at risk of being subjected to the same brutal treatment at the hands of the enemy.

“Waterboarding dates to the Spanish Inquisition and has been a favorite of dictators through the ages, including Pol Pot and the regime in Burma,” Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) said in an op-ed in 2008. “Condoning torture opens the door for our enemies to do the same to captured American troops in the future.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee is preparing to release a report asserting that waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques used by CIA operatives were not effective, said Feinstein, who chairs the panel. Former agency employees dispute that conclusion.


Image: American journalist James Foley covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria, in November 2012. (Nicole Tung/AP)

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