I’ve now heard several different versions of how the Bush administration wanted to use caterpiller-torture. One of the news shows this morning said they wanted to put Zubaydah in a box “full of caterpillers.” Not quite, at least according to Time magazine:
The CIA desire to use insects during interrogations has not previously been disclosed, according to two civil liberties experts contacted by TIME. The Bybee memorandum, which was written on August 1, 2002, described the CIA’s plans for using insects this way:
“You [the CIA] would like to place Zubaydah in a cramped confinement box with an insect. You have informed us [the Department of Justice] that he appears to have a fear of insects. In particular, you would like to tell Zubaydah that you intend to place a stinging insect into the box with him. You would, however, place a harmless insect in the box. You have orally informed us that you would in fact place a harmless insect such as a catapiller in the box with him.”
An additional sentence at the end of this paragraph is redacted in the copy made public Thursday. Later in the same memo, Bybee concludes that “an individual placed in a box, even an individual with a fear of insects, would not reasonably feel threatened with severe physical pain or suffering if a caterpiller was placed in the box.” Bybee adds, however, that the interrogators should not tell Zubaydah that the insect sting “would produce death or severe pain.”
The insect interrogation technique, as it turned out, was never used by the CIA, according to a second declassified memo released Thursday. “We understand that — for reasons unrelated to any concerns that it might violate the [criminal] statute — the CIA never used the technique and has removed it from the list of authorized interrogation techniques,” wrote Steven Bradbury, a principal deputy assistant attorney general, in the footnote to a on May 10, 2005 document. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has admitted that U.S. interrogators used waterboarding on three detainees, including Zubaydah.