Technology with attitude

Torture Works? Not So Fast…

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When I read the following I have to ask, “Who’s lying here?”

Because haven’t we heard from some pretty high profile folks that these techniques worked, most notably former VP Cheney?

I guess maybe Hillary was right.

First, from NY Times, what traditional interrogation tactics gave us:

Along with another F.B.I. agent, and with several C.I.A. officers present, I questioned [Abu Zubaydah] 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.

And now, what torture brought us…

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.

Defenders of these techniques have claimed that they got Abu Zubaydah to give up information leading to the capture of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a top aide to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and Mr. Padilla. This is false. The information that led to Mr. Shibh’s capture came primarily from a different terrorist operative who was interviewed using traditional methods. As for Mr. Padilla, the dates just don’t add up: the harsh techniques were approved in the memo of August 2002, Mr. Padilla had been arrested that May.

I have a feeling we’ll never know the whole truth, but I still contend that the loss of credibility around the world isn’t worth finding out about a few operational ties with tactics that we simply didn’t need to use.