Terror interrogations produced CIA rifts

July 19, 2009 at 1:52 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, July 19 (UPI) -- Dissension racked a team of U.S. officials as harsh interrogation techniques overseen by a CIA contractor were escalated against a terror suspect, sources say.

Quoting an unnamed participant in the 2002 interrogations in Bangkok of the terrorism suspect known as Abu Zubaida, as well as interviews with nearly two dozen current and former U.S. officials, Sunday's Washington Post reported the tactics used by CIA contractors James Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen produced much internal criticism.

With pressure coming from CIA headquarters to ratchet up the interrogation pressure on Abu Zubaida to help prevent a suspected follow-up to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Mitchell reportedly received authorization to strip the suspect of his clothes, deprive him of sleep and constantly bombard him with loud music.

Later, Zubaida was put into a coffin-like box, slapped, and eventually waterboarded dozens of times, the Post said. Two officials with access to classified reports told the newspaper one CIA team member in Bangkok told other interrogators he believed Abu Zubaida was being honest when he claimed to know nothing about significant al-Qaida plots.

Mitchell issued a statement saying interrogators felt the pressure of terror threats did the best he could.

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