Sympathetic GMA Segment Highlights Terrorist Regrets; Focuses on Water Boarding

On Thursday’s "Good Morning America," anchor Chris Cuomo and reporter Brian Ross discussed the recent report that terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad admitted to planning 9/11 and other major attacks.

However, Cuomo and Ross spent much of the segment fretting over the interrogation techniques used by the U.S. And Mr. Ross chose to recount an oddly sympathetic quote by the terrorist, noting that Mr. Mohammad said, "he was sorry that 3000 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks, but, quote, ‘I don’t like to kill children and the kids.’"

One would think that such an absurd comment would at least warrant an eye roll, but the GMA hosts simply continued with the report. Cuomo wondered if the techniques used to extract information from the 9/11 planner could lead "to torture":

CHRIS CUOMO: "Everybody’s going to want to parse what happened here and why. You mentioned in the piece water boarding. Remind us what that is and if it leads to torture."

BRIAN ROSS: "It's a technique used by the CIA with the President’s approval in which the person is put upside down, water is poured on their head. They have a sense they’re drowning. It creates a gag-like reflex. He lasted the longest under water boarding, we’re told, before he broke, between two and two and a half minutes, and then he caved and told all."

Cuomo and Ross began the segment, which aired at 7:02am on March 15, by agreeing that the admission "come out of nowhere." Apparently the idea that the interrogation techniques worked wasn’t considered:

CUOMO: "But first, let’s get to the latest on that stunning admission by Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. The man long considered to be the mastermind behind the September 11th attacks has confessed to that and much more. Chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross is here with the details. This comes out of nowhere."

ROSS: "Indeed, Chris. Good morning, Chris. Good morning, Robin. The confession by the man known by the initials KSM accounted not only for the 9/11 attacks, but virtually every major terror attack in the last 14 years. Plus, an even larger number of terror attacks on U.S. soil that never even got past the planning stage. Among al Qaeda’s other supposed intended targets, the Empire State Building, Chicago’s Sears Tower and the Library Tower in Los Angeles. KSM also admitted to planning assassinations of former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, along with Pope John Paul II. All of this comes four years after KSM was captured in Pakistan, and subjected to what the U.S. calls extreme interrogation techniques, including, officials tell ABC News, water boarding."

EUGENE FIDELL (National Institute of Military Justice): "The problem is it gets too many people saying too many things because under torture anyone will say anything."

ROSS: "U.S. Officials say his written confession came last weekend in a tribunal hearing room at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Claiming no duress, he submitted a list of 31 plots, only eight of which were actually carried out. His confession included the responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, from ‘a to z’ as he put it, as well as the earlier 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, the attack on a disco full of tourists in Bali and the failed effort to shoot down an Israeli airliner in Kenya. According to the transcript made public by the Pentagon, KSM speaking in English told the tribunal he he was like George Washington fighting for independence. He said he was sorry that 3000 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks, but, quote, ‘I don’t like to kill children and the kids,’ he said."

CUOMO: "Everybody’s going to want to parse what happened here and why. You mentioned in the piece water boarding. Remind us what that is and if it leads to torture."

ROSS: "It's a technique used by the CIA with the President’s approval in which the person is put upside down, water is poured on their head. They have a sense they’re drowning. It creates a gag-like reflex. He lasted the longest under water boarding, we’re told, before he broke, between two and two and a half minutes, and then he caved and told all."

ROBIN ROBERTS: "Brian, a lot of people want to know, Is there any outside information that confirms what KSM has said to be truthful?"

ROSS: "Good question. Much of what he said has been corroborated by U.S. officials. There are questions about the authenticity and integrity of confessions made under such extreme techniques."

ROBERTS: "Sure."

ROSS: "But there is corroboration for much of what he said."

CUOMO: "I know the transcript is dense, but what else have you been able to find? I remember years ago, you reporting that you believed KSM was attached to something that happened with the Sears Tower, planning on that. At the time you got a little controversy about that."

ROSS: "That's right, reported right on this program. And afterwards the he FBI In Chicago denied our reports, now according to this transcript it was entirely true and the FBI was misleading people. I don’t know why. Also, in the transcript is information that is redacted but it appears to suggest he was behind the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl."

Also, note the constant use of the initials "KSM" by the GMA hosts. Either the ABC anchors have suddenly developed a love for abbreviations or they just don’t want to use Mr. Mohammad’s’s last name.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org