The CIA has admitted publicly to exposing high-profile al-Qaeda detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to “wakeboarding”. The practice of wakeboarding – dragging a participant behind a speedboat on a wakeboard – is seen by critics as torture, but is viewed by its advocates as a necessary evil to obtain information about possible terrorist acts.
High-profile al-Qaeda detainee Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was said to be ‘unfazed’ by wakeboarding.
CIA director Michael Hayden told Congress however that it had only been used on three people, and not at all for the past five years.
“Wakeboarding was introduced to relax detainees. We found that some sun and a fun day out really opened them up,” he said.
“They loved the challenge of trying to balance on the wakeboard, and the exhilaration of the spray in their face. As a technique for opening the lines of communication it was a big success.”
However, disgruntled former CIA Agent Jack Bauer slammed the practice of wakeboarding, telling CNN “falling off a wakeboard when you’re going fast really hurts.”
“It’s like concrete if you fall off while you’re going fast. It’s completely unjustified to expose detainees to this kind of experience, regardless of what sort of information they may have,” he said.
Bauer said possible side effects included “getting water up your nose, getting a really red back when you fall off, and really stiff shoulders the next day.”
The revelations came as National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell presented his annual threat assessment to Congress. The agency did not rule out using related techniques such as snowboarding or skateboarding in the future.