Coming in From the Cold: CIA Spy Calls Waterboarding Necessary But Torture
Former agent says enhanced technique was used on al Qaeda chief Abu Zubaydah.
Dec. 10, 2007— -- A leader of the CIA team that captured the first major al Qaeda figure, Abu Zubaydah, says subjecting him to waterboarding was torture but necessary.
In the first public comment by any CIA officer involved in handling high-value al Qaeda targets, John Kiriakou, now retired, said the technique broke Zubaydah in less than 35 seconds.
(Editor's Note for Video to the Left: Material from this video transcript may not be used without crediting ABC News in each instance of use. In all cases, use must be limited to one minute or less without the explicit permission of ABC News.)
This story has been updated (see endnote).
"The next day, he told his interrogator that Allah had visited him in his cell during the night and told him to cooperate," said Kiriakou in an interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC News' "World News With Charles Gibson" and "Nightline."
"From that day on, he answered every question," Kiriakou said. "The threat information he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks."
Kiriakou said the feeling in the months after the 9/11 attacks was that interrogators did not have the time to delve into the agency's bag of other interrogation tricks.
"Those tricks of the trade require a great deal of time -- much of the time -- and we didn't have that luxury. We were afraid that there was another major attack coming," he said.
Kiriakou says he did not know that the interrogation of Zubaydah was being secretly recorded by the CIA and had no idea the tapes had been destroyed.