The Associated Press published a bizarre exclusive today about a newly-revealed detail on the imprisonment of senior Al Qaeda boss Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, whom the CIA waterboarded 183 times, and once forced to stay awake for 180 hours:
Confined to the basement of a CIA secret prison in Romania about a decade ago, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, asked his jailers whether he could embark on an unusual project: Would the spy agency allow Mohammed, who had earned his bachelor's in mechanical engineering, to design a vacuum cleaner?
Why? Because the CIA "didn't want them to go nuts," according to a former senior CIA official who spoke to the AP anonymously "because they were not authorized to talk about the now-shuttered CIA prisons or Mohammed's interest in vacuums."
The CIA may now be in possession of "the world's most highly classified vacuum cleaner blueprints," according to AP writer Adam Goldman, who obviously had fun writing the story.
The account is full of other bizarre details: tea and cookies served to KSM during "office hours" in which he chatted with CIA agents; Snickers candy bars "as rewards for his studiousness," and books provided by the "black site" prison in Romania where he and other detainess were held.
Mohammed, former officials said, enjoyed the Harry Potter series. For the CIA officers at the prison, not so much. For security reasons, after a prisoner finished a book, they tediously checked every page to ensure detainees weren't passing messages. They once caught Mohammed trying to hide a message in a book warning his prison mates not to talk about Osama bin Laden's courier.
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.