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Former CIA Clandestine Chief Describes Waterboarding 9/11 Mastermind

In an explosive interview with CBS' 60 Minutes, the former chief of the CIA's clandestine service describes waterboarding Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. (A Warning: The interview contains some offensive language.)

"This is an individual who probably didn't give a rat's ass about having water poured on his face," Jose Rodriguez says in the interview. In the clips released by CBS to preview Sunday's full segment, Rodriguez goes on to describe Mohammed using his fingers to count to ten while being waterboarded.

"He knew that in all likelihood we'd stop at 10," Rodriguez says.

Rodriguez is cavalier and unapologetic, echoing the sentiments the Associated Press found in a copy of his upcoming book Hard Measures.

"We made some al-Qaida terrorists with American blood on their hands uncomfortable for a few days," Rodriguez said. "I am very secure in what we did and am very confident that what we did saved American lives."

On its website, CBS reports Rodriguez said the interrogation program — "which also included stress positions, nudity and 'insult slaps,'" — was about "instilling a sense of hopelessness... despair... so that he [the detainee] would conclude on his own that he was better off cooperating with us."

As we said, the full interview airs on 60 Minutes Sunday.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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