Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that a "left-wing blogger" was The New York Times' source for an article about waterboarding use. In fact, the Times reported that the information came from an OLC memo and that bloggers discovered the information in the memo.
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On the April 20 edition of his program, Rush Limbaugh claimed: "The New York Times today has a story that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was waterboarded six times a day; 183 times, over 200 times total. And their source is a left-wing blogger." Limbaugh went on to claim that Mohammad "go[ing] through waterboarding for 183 times, six times a day" was "a little bit hard to believe" but that "whatever the left-wing blogs print and publish, the drive-by media is going to say is true anyway." In fact, the Times did not report that its "source" for the information was "a left-wing blogger"; rather, the article noted that the data came from a May 2005 Office of Legal Counsel memo by principal deputy assistant attorney general Steven G. Bradbury, which stated that "[t]he CIA used the waterboard ... 183 times during March 2003 in the interrogation of KSM." The Times further reported that the information "came out over the weekend when a number of bloggers, including Marcy Wheeler of the blog emptywheel, discovered" it in the 2005 memo.
From the May 30, 2005, Office of Legal Counsel memo:
From the April 20 New York Times article:
C.I.A. interrogators used waterboarding, the near-drowning technique that top Obama administration officials have described as illegal torture, 266 times on two key prisoners from Al Qaeda, far more than had been previously reported.
The C.I.A. officers used waterboarding at least 83 times in August 2002 against Abu Zubaydah, according to a 2005 Justice Department legal memorandum. Abu Zubaydah has been described as a Qaeda operative.
A former C.I.A. officer, John Kiriakou, told ABC News and other news media organizations in 2007 that Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew.
The 2005 memo also says that the C.I.A. used waterboarding 183 times in March 2003 against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The new information on the number of waterboarding episodes came out over the weekend when a number of bloggers, including Marcy Wheeler of the blog emptywheel, discovered it in the May 30, 2005, memo.
The sentences in the memo containing that information appear to have been redacted from some copies but are visible in others. Initial news reports about the memos in The New York Times and other publications did not include the numbers.
From the April 20 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: The New York Times today has a story that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was waterboarded six times a day; 183 times, over 200 times total. And their source is a left-wing blogger. Now I'm going to tell you what's going to happen here with the drive-by media. By the way, greetings, folks, and welcome -- Rush Limbaugh back, and broadcast excellence, all yours, three hours, straight ahead. The telephone number if you want to join us today, (800) 282-2882; the email address, elrushbo at eibnet.com.
I'm going to give you the new-media model before I go on to this waterboarding point. The new-media model is going to be this: All these drive-by media outlets -- the mainstream media is cutting back on bureaus and reporters and so forth. And what's going to happen is -- it's already starting to happen. The New York Times, liberal media, TV and radio and newspapers and so forth, are going to start using bloggers as -- left-wing bloggers -- as credible sources for news.
Now, you stop and think about this: 183 times, six times a day, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was waterboarded. His lawyers never complained. He didn't complain to whatever civil rights organizations there were. And I'll tell you, the bottom -- if somebody can be water-tortured six times a day, then it isn't torture. Can we just establish that? If somebody can go through waterboarding for 183 times, six times a day -- which is a little bit hard to believe anyway, but let's acknowledge -- let's just say it's true for the sake of it, because whatever the left-wing blogs print and publish, the drive-by media is going to say is true anyway. Six times a day, it means you're not afraid of it. It means you -- it's not torture. If you have -- if you've found a way to withstand it, it can't possibly be torture.