Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, was subjected to the CIA's harshest interrogation methods while he was held in secret prisons around the world for more than three years, part of an interrogation regimen that the International Committee of the Red Cross has called "tantamount to torture," according to an article published on the New Yorker magazine's Web site yesterday.
In a 12-page article released Saturday, reporter Jane Mayer analyzes the development of the CIA's secret interrogation techniques and writes that a confidential Red Cross report to the U.S. government details Mohammed's assertions that he was tortured by the CIA.
Mayer says unnamed Washington sources told her that Mohammed said he was held naked in his cell, questioned by female interrogators to humiliate him, attached to a dog leash and made to run into walls, and put in painful positions while chained to the floor. Mohammed also said he was "waterboarded" - a simulated drowning - in addition to being held in suffocating heat and painfully cold conditions.
Mohammed's captors also told him shortly after his arrest in March 2003: "We're not going to kill you. But we're going to take you to the very brink of your death and back," the article said.
The CIA techniques have come under harsh criticism from human-rights groups who argue that they are abusive and torturous, especially when used in combination over long periods of time.
President Bush signed an executive order last month that requires the CIA to treat detainees humanely, but a classified list of techniques that are approved for the agency's use has been kept from public view.
The U.S. military's judges advocate general have said in written responses to Congress that techniques such as waterboarding, forced removal of clothing, and stress positions would be illegal and against international standards. The JAGs were not consulted before the CIA's development of its new rules.
Asked about the interrogation methods described in the article, CIA spokesman George Little responded: "The program is about more than specific methods of questioning. It's about the use of the CIA's collected knowledge of al-Qaeda and its affiliates to elicit additional information from detainees, and to do so in accord with U.S. law."
Mohammed and 13 other detainees were transferred to the U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from the CIA's secret detention program and its "black sites" last year. That transfer was the first time that the Bush administration acknowledged it had custody of the detainees and allowed Red Cross representatives to be the first outsiders to interview them in years.