The Promise Of A Nap
KSM was unlike any of the 30 other CIA detainees subject to such techniques: He was “scary smart” and evil, Rodriguez says. He was one of only three prisoners waterboarded by the United States. But Mohammed knew his interrogators would never kill him, so he coolly remained impassive as he was waterboarded 183 times, Rodriguez says.
“He seemed to have figured out that we weren’t going to push things too far,” Rodriguez says.
But Mohammed’s weakness was his inability to resist sleep deprivation.
The first day he was in custody, Mohammed — who attended college in Greensboro, NC — initially pretended to only speak Urdu, fooling no one. Officers forced him to stand, and after hours of questioning, his weakness for shut-eye began to show.
“Here’s the deal,” an interrogator said. “I know you speak English. I want you to politely ask me to let you go to sleep.”
The idea was to demonstrate to Mohammed “that he was no longer in control,” Rodriguez says. Officers would later keep him awake for 180 hours straight — 7 1/2 days. Loud noises and stress positions — where a detainee is shackled and forced to stand, putting intense pressure on the leg muscles — were used.
“It was much kinder than anything he would have done to an American captive, like Danny Pearl,” said Rodriguez, referring to the Wall Street Journal reporter Mohammed admitted to personally beheading in 2002.
When he finally folded, officers couldn’t get him to stop talking.