John Kiriakou

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

John Kiriakou is a former CIA officer who participated in the capture of suspected terrorist Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in 2002.

Unverified statements on effectiveness of waterboarding

On December 10, 2007, Kiriakou appeared on ABC News and said that while he considered waterboarding to be a form of torture, the technique worked and yielded results very quickly with Zubaydah. Kiriakou told the ABC reporter Brian Ross that Zubaydah cooperated with U.S. authorities after having been waterboarded for "probably 30, 35 seconds," and that “from that day on he answered every question.”

Kiriakou's claims about the effectiveness of waterboarding were never verified, but nevertheless were picked up and repeated many times in newspapers, broadcasts and blogs. Kiriakou's comments were also later contradicted by a declassified U.S. Department of Justice memo that emerged later saying Zubaydah had been waterboarded 83 times. [1]

The New York Times later reported that Kiriakou had no firsthand knowledge of the waterboarding of Zubaydah, and that he had not actually been in the secret prison in Thailand where Zubaydah had been interrogated, but instead had been at the C.I.A.'s headquarters in Northern Virginia. The Times futher reported that Kiriakou had learned about the interrogation only by reading accounts from the field.

Conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh repeated Kiriakou's claims on a radio show, saying "It works, is the bottom line. Thirty to 35 seconds ... Thirty-five seconds, and Abu Zubaydah caved, and the information worked, and the Democrats and the liberals tell us that torture is ineffective because people say anything to get out of it and to stop it from happening. And, of course, waterboarding is horrible, just absolutely terrible, terrible, terrible."[2]

Kiriakou subsequently granted interviews to The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and other media organizations. A CNN anchor referred to him “the man of the hour.” The New York Times reported that Fox News anchor Chris Wallace cited Kiriakou's 35 seconds claim to ask a congressman whether the interrogation program was “really so bad.”

Other columnists and commentators used Kiriakou's comments on the effectiveness of the torture technique to defend American use of waterboarding and argue that its use is appropriate.

Kiriakou later became a paid consultant for ABC News, but resigned that position in March, 2009 to work for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.[3]

Sourcewatch resources

External resources


  1. Scott Shane Waterboarding Used 266 Times on 2 Suspects New York Times, April 19, 2009
  2. Rush Limbaugh Dingy Harry Trashes His Country Transcript. December 11, 2007. Accessed May 1, 2009
  3. Brian Stelter, Scott Shane How ’07 ABC Interview Tilted a Torture Debate April 27, 2009