Footnote to 2005 OLC memo reveals waterboarding used ‘with far greater frequency than initially indicated.’

Earlier this year, President Bush defended his administration’s use of torture by claiming that the techniques, including waterboarding, “are necessary to be used on a rare occasion to get information to protect the American people.” However, in one of the four legal memos released yesterday, a footnote (page 41) revealed that for a time, waterboarding had been used more intensely and frequently than originally thought:

The memos include what in effect are lengthy excerpts from the agency’s interrogation manual, laying out with precision how each method was to be used. Waterboarding, for example, involved strapping a prisoner to a gurney inclined at an angle of “10 to 15 degrees” and pouring water over a cloth covering his nose and mouth “from a height of approximately 6 to 18 inches” for no more than 40 seconds at a time.

But a footnote to a 2005 memo made it clear that the rules were not always followed. Waterboarding was used “with far greater frequency than initially indicated” and with “large volumes of water” rather than the small quantities in the rules, one memo says, citing a 2004 report by the C.I.A.’s inspector general.

Following the IG report, the memo’s authors write, they implemented “a number of changes in the application of the waterboard, including limits on the frequency and cumulative use of the technique.” “All of which means that, for a period of time, these limits were not in place,” notes The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein.



In a Wall Street Journal op-ed defending Bush’s torture program, former Bush officials Michael Hayden and Michael Mukasey claim, “The techniques themselves were used selectively against only a small number of hard-core prisoners who successfully resisted other forms of interrogation, and then only with the explicit authorization of the director of the CIA.”