"My client was tortured before [Bybee's] memo came out. My client was interrogated in ways that were not approved of by OLC and interrogated in ways that exceeded the OLC memo. I believe my client was tortured months and months before this [August 2002 OLC] memorandum ever came out. They knew he was tortured and they set about creating a record to make it appear he had not been tortured."
In the torture memo, Bybee asserted that Zubaydah "is one of the highest ranking members of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization" and someone who "has been involved in every major terrorist operation carried out by al-Qaeda." The memo also called Zubaydah "one of the planners of the September 11 attacks."
Bybee indicated that he approved the harsh interrogation as necessary to thwart pending attacks on US interests, which the CIA claimed Zubaydah knew about. The US government has since backed off its claims about Zubaydah's importance, now portraying him more as a travel agent for al-Qaeda than as a mastermind.