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Dick Cheney's statement that only three terrorism detainees were subjected to waterboarding is true

Cheney's math checks out

The statement

"You've heard endlessly about waterboarding. It happened to three terrorists."

Dick Cheney, Thursday, May 21st, 2009

The ruling

President Barack Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney squared off in dueling speeches on national security Thursday. Not surprisingly, Cheney defended the controversial interrogation techniques used during the Bush administration on some terror suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. And, he said, despite all the public debate about waterboarding, it was used on only three detainees. Public records support his claim. Three prominent detainees were waterboarded, collectively at least 267 times. The use of waterboarding, which simulates drowning, was first publicly acknowledged by then-CIA director Michael Hayden during a Senate intelligence hearing on Feb. 5, 2008. He said it was used in 2002 and 2003. "It was used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It was used on Abu Zubaydah. And it was used on (Abd al-Rahim al-) Nashiri," Hayden said. In April, the Justice Department released 2005 legal memos that detailed the use of waterboarding in 2002 and 2003, including the revelation that it had been used 183 times against Mohammed, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11 attacks. The memos said the CIA used waterboarding at least 83 times in August 2002 against Zubaydah, described by the CIA as one of Osama bin Laden's key lieutenants. Also, the technique was used on Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the 2000 USS Cole bombing. Cheney is on solid ground. We rate his statement True.

By Rob Farley, PolitiFact staff writer

President Barack Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney squared off in dueling speeches on national security Thursday.

Not surprisingly, Cheney defended the controversial interrogation techniques used during the Bush administration on some terror suspects after the 9/11 attacks. And, he said, despite all the public debate about waterboarding, the technique was only used on three detainees.

Public records support his claim. Three prominent detainees were waterboarded, collectively at least 267 times.

The use of waterboarding — which simulates drowning — was first publicly acknowledged by then-CIA director Michael Hayden during in a Senate Intelligence hearing on Feb. 5, 2008. He said it was used in 2002 and 2003.

"It was used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It was used on Abu Zubaydah. And it was used on (Abd al-Rahim al-) Nashiri," Hayden said.

In April, the Justice Department released 2005 legal memos that detailed the use of waterboarding in 2002 and 2003, including the revelation that it had been used 183 times against Mohammed, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The memos also noted that the CIA used waterboarding at least 83 times in August 2002 against Zubaydah, described by the CIA as one of Osama bin Laden's key lieutenants. And lastly, the technique was used on Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the 2000 USS Cole bombing.

Cheney is on solid ground. We rate his statement True.

By Rob Farley, PolitiFact staff writer

Dick Cheney's statement that only three terrorism detainees were subjected to waterboarding is true 05/21/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 21, 2009 10:55pm]
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