Saturday, January 17, 2009


Editor, The Chronicle:

In attempting to justify waterboarding ("From Jack Bauer to Leon Panetta", January 13), Debra Saunders cites former CIA officer John Kiriakou's assertion that the torture of Abu Zubaydeh saved lives.

What she fails to mention is that Kiriakou was not present at the interrogation he refers to. And that Kiriakou's account is disputed by those who were present. And that Zubaydeh was not the high-value target torture supporters claim he was--that, in fact, Zubaydeh was at best delusional and at worst completely insane.

Worst of all, she neglects to tell us that Kiriakou himself opposes waterboarding. As he said in December 2007: "I've come to the belief that not only is it unnecessary, but that as Americans, we're better than that and we shouldn't be engaging in a practice like waterboarding."

There is, as ever, no honest argument in favor of waterboarding. Saunders' column is no exception.

Tom Hilton
San Francisco

*Not that I have any cause to complain; the Chronicle has run a few of mine, which is better luck than most people have.

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