Waterboarding Brings Doubts About Daniel Pearl's Killer

Debate is raging over whether an al Qaeda big shot who admitted to killing Daniel Pearl did the deed.

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By Nikki Schwab, Washington Whispers

Enhanced interrogation methods become much more of a gray issue when you're personally involved. Just ask John Bussey, who was serving as Daniel Pearl's editor at the Wall Street Journal when the reporter went missing in 2002. Bussey and two other colleagues were on hand last night at the Newseum for a screening of the 2007 film A Mighty Heart, which details Pearl's kidnapping and murder. The movie shows a suspect being strung up from the ceiling and screamed at by a Pakistani authority. "This was Pakistan, and you get arrested and all sorts of things happen to you before you get time to call your lawyer," explains Bussey.

The editor, now the Journal's Washington bureau chief, doesn't condone torture, but he made the Newseum audience aware of the complexities surrounding the debate. Referring to the tactics the Pakistanis used to interrogate Pearl's kidnappers, Bussey says, "This was a bit troubling to us, but we were looking for our friend, so you can imagine that."

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, has claimed responsibility for beheading Pearl, but it recently came to light that the al Qaeda operative was waterboarded more than 180 times in 30 days. This has left some of Pearl's colleagues skeptical of the confession. "Whether or not that is a torture-induced or hubris-induced claim or is in fact accurate we will never fully know," Bussey admits. "It probably is Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's hand." Colleague Steve Levine, now a reporter for Business Week, isn't quite as convinced. "I'm not as sure as John is that I think it was him," he says.

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