Thursday, April 23, 2009

If By Work You Mean Fail

Now that the memos are out, people are speaking out and pushing back against Cheney's torture works B.S. This editorial is one of the most powerful anti-torture pieces I've read recently. Via Attaturk:

"FOR seven years I have remained silent about the false claims magnifying the effectiveness of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding. I have spoken only in closed government hearings, as these matters were classified. But the release last week of four Justice Department memos on interrogations allows me to shed light on the story, and on some of the lessons to be learned.
It is inaccurate, however, to say that Abu Zubaydah had been uncooperative. Along with another F.B.I. agent, and with several C.I.A. officers present, I questioned him from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August. Under traditional interrogation methods, he provided us with important actionable intelligence.

We discovered, for example, that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was the
mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Abu Zubaydah also told us about Jose Padilla,
the so-called dirty bomber. This experience fit what I had found throughout my
counterterrorism career: traditional interrogation techniques are successful in
identifying operatives, uncovering plots and saving lives.

There was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained from regular tactics. In addition, I saw that using these alternative methods on other terrorists backfired on more than a few occasions — all of which are still classified. The short sightedness behind the use of these techniques ignored the unreliability of the methods, the nature of the threat, the mentality and modus operandi of the terrorists, and due process."

Wow, note the emphasis on DUE PROCESS. More from Ali Soufan (the interrogator/writer of the editorial):

"One of the worst consequences of the use of these harsh techniques was that it reintroduced the so-called Chinese wall between the C.I.A. and F.B.I., similar to the communications obstacles that prevented us from working together to stop the 9/11 attacks. Because the bureau would not employ these problematic techniques, our agents who knew the most about the terrorists could have no part in the investigation. An F.B.I. colleague of mine who knew more about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed than anyone in the government was not allowed to speak to him. [emphasis supplied]"

When you discover this level of incompetency, it becomes a little hard to argue that Bush kept us safe.

The writer makes a final point - that contractors, as opposed to CIA officers, requested that "alternative techniques" be used. It's still on the hands of the CIA brass that these techniques were used, but if true, it poses some interesting questions. Who was in charge of overseeing and regulating these contractors? Why were the contractors given so much authority? Prosecuting contractors would be easier than prosecuting government officials - right now, a torture suit against CACI is going forward - though CACI tried to have it dismissed, twice.

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