ABC Upset 'Chilling' Memos Reveal Zubaydah 'Tortured with an Insect'

ABC's Charles Gibson, Jan Crawford Greenburg and George Stephanopoulos all stressed Thursday night how, Bush administration Justice Department memos clarifying what techniques interrogators could use with suspected terrorists, included what Stephanopoulos described as “torture with an insect” -- a method ABC failed to note was not ever employed. “Tonight, secret memos,” anchor Charles Gibson teased World News, “new documents reveal in vivid detail just how far the Bush administration went in interrogating terror suspects, using insects, confinement boxes, water-boards and more.”

Reporter Jan Crawford Greenburg characterized the memos as “chilling in their detail,” citing how “they approved prisoners placed in a cramped confinement box with an insect...” Following Greenburg, Stephanopoulos marveled: “Even some congressional officials who had the highest security clearances were surprised by some of the details today, especially that detail about the fact that Zubayda was tortured with an insect in a confinement box.” Let that formulation sink in: “Tortured with an insect.” The horror! (Audio: MP3 of the three insect comments)

Zubaydah, however, was never forced to spend time near a caterpillar, Pete Williams reported on the NBC Nightly News: “In the case of al-Qaeda figure Abu Zubaydah, who feared insects, interrogators were given permission to put a harmless one like a caterpillar in a box in which he was confined, but that technique was never used.”

(JPG image of the ABC News graphic shown in the video thumbnail.)

On the CBS Evening News, Bob Orr didn't mention the insect revelation.

The New York Times story posted late Thursday afternoon considered the insect information newsworthy enough to put into the second paragraph, but noted “the technique was not used.” From the top of the article, dated April 17 so likely how it will appear in the Friday newspaper, “Interrogation Memos Detail Harsh Tactics by the C.I.A.,” by Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane:

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department made public on Thursday detailed memos describing harsh interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency, as President Obama said that C.I.A. operatives who carried out the techniques would not be prosecuted.

One technique authorized for use by the C.I.A. beginning in August 2002 was the use of “insects placed in a confinement box,” presumably to induce fear on the part of a terror suspect. According to a footnote, the technique was not used....
From the Thursday, April 16 World News on ABC:
CHARLES GIBSON: They read like a step by step how to manual. How to extract information from high value terror suspects. The Obama Justice Department today released documents that lay out, in stark detail, the interrogation methods used by the Bush administration -- the techniques designed to stay just within what the administration said the law might allow. Today, President Obama called ita “dark and painful chapter” in our history. Here's our legal correspondent Jan Crawford Greenburg.

GREENBURG: The memos released from the Justice Department today are chilling in their detail. Pages of legal analysis about specific CIA interrogation techniques used against top al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons around the world. They approved prisoners placed in a cramped confinement box with an insect, the use of shackling to keep the detainee awake for up to one week, and top suspects repeatedly subjected to simulated drowning known as the water-board. The question the CIA asked the Justice Department, were those harsh methods torture? The answer, after pages of legal analysis, no....

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Surprisingly, even some congressional officials who had the highest security clearances were surprised by some of the details today, especially that detail about the fact that Zubayda was tortured with an insect in a confinement box. That was surprising.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center