Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Designed Vacuum Cleaner While In CIA Custody
9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed apparently began pursuing a new career while in CIA custody:
WASHINGTON – 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?
The agency officer in charge of the prison called CIA headquarters and a manager approved the request, a former senior CIA official told The Associated Press.
Mohammed had endured the most brutal of the CIA’s harsh interrogation methods and had confessed to a career of atrocities. But the agency had no long-term plan for him. Someday, he might prove useful. Perhaps, he’d even stand trial one day.
And for that, he’d need to be sane.
“We didn’t want them to go nuts,” the former senior CIA official said, one of several who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the now-shuttered CIA prisons or Mohammed’s interest in vacuums.
So, using schematics from the Internet as his guide, Mohammed began re-engineering one of the most mundane of household appliances.
That the CIA may be in possession of the world’s most highly classified vacuum cleaner blueprints is but one peculiar, lasting byproduct of the controversial U.S. detention and interrogation program.
By the CIA’s own account, the program’s methods were “designed to psychologically ‘dislocate’” people. But once interrogations stopped, the agency had to try to undo the psychological damage inflicted on the detainees.
The CIA apparently succeeded in keeping Mohammed sane. He appears to be in good health, according to military records.
But, what about the vacuum cleaner, you might ask:
It remains a mystery how far Mohammed got with his designs or whether the plans still exist. The secret CIA prison in Romania was shuttered in early 2006 and Mohammed was transferred later that year to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base prison, where he remains. It’s unlikely he was able to take his appliance plans to Cuba.
Mohammed’s military lawyer, Jason Wright, said he was prohibited from discussing his client’s interest in vacuums.
“It sounds ridiculous, but answering this question, or confirming or denying the very existence of a vacuum cleaner design, a Swiffer design, or even a design for a better hand towel would apparently expose the U.S. government and its citizens to exceptionally grave danger,” Wright said.
But Wright added that he often discussed “modern technological innovations” and the “scientific wonders” of the Quran with Mohammed. He called Mohammed “exceptionally intelligent.”
“If he had access to educational programs in Guantanamo Bay, such as distance learning programs, I am confident that in addition to furthering his Islamic studies, he could obtain a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, and very likely patent inventions,” Wright said.
The CIA won’t discuss the Mohammed’s vacuum plans, either. The AP asked the CIA for copies of the vacuum designs or any government records about them under the Freedom of Information Act.
The CIA responded in a letter to the AP that the records, “should they exist,” would be considered operational files of the CIA – among its most highly classified category of government files – and therefore exempt from ever being released to the public.
If you happen to start seeing ads for the CIA’s revolutionary new home cleaning device, you’ll know where it came from.