Higher-ups in the CIA pressed for harsh interrogation methods to be used on a captured al-Qaeda member despite his interrogators' assurances that he had nothing more to tell, the New York Times reports. Abu Zubaydah had already yielded important information, including tips that led to 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shiekh Mohammed, under less brutal pressure, former officials tell the Times, but the CIA, inflating his importance, insisted on tactics that made his captors uncomfortable.
Using more aggressive methods on Zubaydah—including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, slamming him into a wall, and keeping him naked and cold—did not gain any new information, said one official, but caused distress to interrogators. "Seeing these depths of human misery and degradation has a traumatic effect." A footnote to the newly released CIA memos acknowledges that the treatment may have been "unnecessary," the Times reports.