Category Archive 'Marcy Wheeler'

24 Apr 2009

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Subjected to 183 Drops of Water in March 2003

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Would you waterboard this worthy oriental gentleman?

Marcy Wheeler, who posts as “emptywheel” over at leftwing FireDogLake, last Saturday topped the Internet headlines blogging about a detail she read in the May 30, 2005 Brabury Memo: Poor little Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003.

All over Europe and America the hearts of the bien pensant community stirred with outrage at the thought of just how pruney and wrinkled poor KSM must have been after so much immersion back during that dreadful March.

Well, it turns out that Marcy Wheeler’s agita was derived from a basic misunderstanding.

Inside anonymous sources leaked (as it were) an explanation of the basis of that 180-plus figure to NR’s Cliff May:

According to two sources, both of them very well-informed and reliable (but preferring to remain anonymous), the 180-plus times refers not to sessions of waterboarding, but to “pours” — that is, to instances of water being poured on the subject.

Under a strict set of rules, every pour of water had to be counted — and the number of pours was limited.

Also: Waterboarding interrogation sessions were permitted on no more than five days within any 30-day period.

No more than two sessions were permitted in any 24-hour period.

A session could last no longer than two hours.

There could be at most six pours of water lasting ten seconds or longer — and never longer than 40 seconds — during any individual session.

Water could be poured on a subject for a combined total of no more than 12 minutes during any 24 hour period.

You do the math.

It’s as if censorious Marcy Wheeler had accused my old drinking buddy Pat of having downed 183 beers the previous evening, and Pat assured her that he’d been dieting and confined himself to only 183 sips.


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