I watched an hilarious exchange between former Minnesota governor, Jesse Ventura and a Fox TV chat show host who I must admit I was not very impressed with at all. However they talked about whether waterboarding was torture and necessary for today’s American body politic. The Fox host repeated several canards that weren’t really addressed by Ventura although he made up for a lack of response with passion and directing the argument in ways he wanted. I want to briefly address some of the points from a document put together by the folks at Think Progress which I have alluded to in another post.
1. Information from enhanced techniques is unreliable.
This has been stated by several branches of government from the military to the FBI who have all concluded torture doesn’t yield any actionable intelligence and the opposite of torture, rapport building gives a far higher yield. It’s not as gory or satisfying to the sadistic nature of today’s neocons but it gets results. In fact, according to some, torture gets in the way of intelligence gathering and has negative effects.
2. The torture of Khalid Shaikh Muhammad and Abu Zubayday produced no valuable intelligence.
CIA and FBI officials have gone on record saying nothing was gained from torturing either of those two individuals and they were both tortured scores of time.
“The proponents of torture say, ‘Look at the body of information that has been obtained by these methods.’ But if K.S.M. and Abu Zubaydah did give up stuff, we would have heard the details,” says Cloonan. “What we got was pabulum.” A former C.I.A. officer adds: “Why can’t they say what the good stuff from Abu Zubaydah or K.S.M. is? It’s not as if this is sensitive material from a secret, vulnerable source. You’re not blowing your source but validating your program. They say they can’t do this, even though five or six years have passed, because it’s a ‘continuing operation.’ But has it really taken so long to check it all out?”
And again, there’s this:
As for K.S.M. himself, who (as Jane Mayer writes) was waterboarded, reportedly hung for hours on end from his wrists, beaten, and subjected to other agonies for weeks, Bush said he provided “many details of other plots to kill innocent Americans.” K.S.M. was certainly knowledgeable. It would be surprising if he gave up nothing of value. But according to a former senior C.I.A. official, who read all the interrogation reports on K.S.M., “90 percent of it was total fucking bullshit.” A former Pentagon analyst adds: “K.S.M. produced no actionable intelligence. He was trying to tell us how stupid we were.”
I strongly urge you to go to the document linked above to read it in its entirety. It’s very well sourced and proves conclusively that torture was not responsible for any intelligence which prevented further attacks against America, that it was viewed as illegal by many of the people the Bush Administration sought to envelope in the torture fabric and that it is prosecutable should the legal community have the will to press charges against those responsible. Why that hasn’t happened is something politicians in the next election should have to answer.