“The most troubling example pertains to Abu Zubaydah’s mental state before he was tortured. John Yoo (writing under Jay Bybee’s name) goes to some lengths to establish Abu Zubaydah’s sanity. After five paragraphs that basically make Abu Zubaydah out to be a self-confident stud, here’s what Yoo says about AZ’s psychological health.
“‘According to your reports [from CIA Acting Counsel John Rizzo], Zubaydah does not have any pre-existing mental conditions or problems that would make him likely to suffer prolonged mental harm from your proposed interrogation methods. Through reading his diaries and interviewing him, you have found no history of ‘mood disturbance or other psychiatric pathology [,]’ ‘thought disorder [,] … enduring mood or mental health problems.’ He is in fact ‘remarkably resilient and confident that he can overcome adversity.’ When he encounters stress or low mood, this appears to last only for a short time. He deals with stress by assessing its source, evaluating the coping resources available to him, and then taking action. Your assessment notes that he is ‘generally self-sufficient and relies on his understanding and application of religious and psychological principles, intelligence and discipline to avoid and overcome problems.’ During detention, Zubaydah has managed his mood, remaining at most points ‘circumspect, calm, controlled., and deliberate.’ He has maintained [this] demeanor during aggressive interrogations and reductions in sleep. You describe that in an initial confrontational incident, Zubaydah showed signs of sympathetic nervous system arousal, which you think was possibly fear. Although this incident led him to disclose intelligence information, he was able to quickly regain his composure, his air of confidence, and his ‘strong resolve’ not to reveal any information.'”
— Excerpt from one of the John Yoo/Jay Bybee torture memos, as quoted by Emptywheel at Firedoglake.
“Meanwhile, this is what Dan Coleman–an FBI guy with deep knowledge of al Qaeda–had to say about AZ in Ron Suskind’s One Percent Doctrine:
‘Dan Coleman and other knowledgeable members of the tribe of al Qaeda hunters at CIA were reading Zubaydah’s top secret diary and shaking their heads.
”This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality,’ Coleman told a top official at FBI after a few days reviewing the Zubaydah haul.’
“Two different people reading the same diary. One cherry-picks from it to claim AZ exhibited no evidence of ‘mood disturbance,’ whereas another reads the same diary and concludes the guy is nuts.”
— From “The OLC Memos, ‘Erroneous and Inflammatory Assumptions,’ and John Rizzo’s Lies,” by Emptywheel at Firedoglake, April 16, 2009.
“Although the waterboard constitutes a threat of imminent death, prolonged mental harm must nonetheless result to violate the statutory prohibition on infliction of severe mental pain or suffering … In the absence of prolonged mental harm, no severe mental pain or suffering would have been inflicted, and the use of these procedures would not constitute torture.”
— Liliana Segura, quoting from the Jay Bybee memo of August 1, 2002, in “New Bush Torture Bombshell Memos: 10 Horrifying Discoveries,” AlterNet, April 17, 2009.
Read all of the declassified Bush Administration torture memos here.