Efficacy of Torture

  • Bob Fertik's picture
    Bob Fertik
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George Bush and Dick Cheney committed war crimes by authorizing torture. They justify their war crimes by insisting torture saved Amferican lives. Did Bush's torture work?

The Bush Administration never publicly documented a single case in which torture produced intelligence that saved a single life.

  Background GOP Claim Truth

Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi

Timeline
* Emir of Khaldan training camp in Afghanistan
* not Al Qaeda member
* 12/18/01 captured in Pakistan, given to U.S.
* 12/01-2/02 questioned by FBI in Afghanistan
* 2/02 sent by CIA to Egypt for torture
* "confessed" Iraq trained in WMD use
* 10/02-3/03 "confession" cited by Bush, Powell
* 2/04 returned by Egypt
* 11/05 SSIC concluded he lied
* 5/09 found dead in Libyan prison

Cheney cited 8/02 speech in Nashville
Bush cited 10/02 speech in Cincinnati: "Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases"
Powell cited 2/03 UN speech
2/02 DIA was skeptical
3/04 CIA recanted intel as worthless

Abu Zubaydah
(Abu Zubaidah) (AZ)
* Al Qaeda travel agent shot & captured 3/28/02
* Thailand semi-torture, then Afghanistan 5/02-2/03
* only got meds for intel?
* mentally ill
* FBI's Ali Soufan interrogated in Afghanistan until 6/02 and learned KSM was mastermind of 9/11
* torture policies adopted for him 7/02
* waterboarded 83 times
CIA interrogator John Kiriakou said waterboarding broke Zubaydah in less than 35 seconds, but he wasn't there and thought he was only waterboarded once All useful info was obtained before torture; no plots were foiled
Ramzi bin al-Shibh * captured 9/11/02
* torture videotaped
   

Rahim al-Nashiri
* sold supplies used in bombing of USS Cole
* captured oct/nov 02
* waterboarded 2 times
Steven Bradbury memo 5/30/05
"notable results as early as the first day"
proudly lied about Bin Laden having nukes - revealed nothing true

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM)
* 9/11 mastermind
* captured 3/1/03
* waterboarded 183 times
revealed L.A. Library Tower plot
(GOP mistakenly calls Liberty Tower)
plot was foiled 2/02, 13 months before his capture

Here are the views of intelligence experts.

Robert Mueller, FBI Director

In 2008, Mueller told Vanity Fair that he did not "believe" that there had been a case where "any attacks had been disrupted because of intelligence obtained through the coercive methods." John Miller, a spokesman for Mueller, confirmed that position to the New York Times on Tuesday, saying, "The quote is accurate."

Milt Bearden, a 30-year veteran of CIA’s operations directorate who rose to the most senior managerial ranks:

“The administration’s claims of [torture] having ‘saved thousands of Americans’ can be dismissed out of hand because credible evidence has never been offered … It is irresponsible for any administration not to tell a credible story that would convince critics at home and abroad that this torture has served some useful purpose … this is not just because the old [intelligence] hands overwhelmingly believe that torture doesn’t work — it doesn’t — but also because they know that torture creates more terrorists and fosters more acts of terror than it could possibly neutralize.”

Bearden argued that if the claims of the Bush White House were true, it ought to stop hiding always behind the all-too-readily-adduced need to protect sources and methods.

Donald P. Gregg, national security adviser to Vice President George H.W. Bush:

During wartime service with the CIA in Vietnam from 1970 to 1972, I was in charge of intelligence operations in the 10 provinces surrounding Saigon. One of my tasks was to prevent rocket attacks on Saigon's port.

Keeping Saigon safe required human intelligence, most often from captured prisoners. I had a running debate about how North Vietnamese prisoners should be treated with the South Vietnamese colonel who conducted interrogations. This colonel routinely tortured prisoners, producing a flood of information, much of it totally false. I argued for better treatment and pressed for key prisoners to be turned over to the CIA, where humane interrogation methods were the rule - and more accurate intelligence was the result.

The colonel finally relented and turned over a battered prisoner to me, saying, "This man knows a lot, but he will not talk to me."

We treated the prisoner's wounds, reunited him with his family, and allowed him to make his first visit to Saigon. Surprised by the city's affluence, he said he would tell us anything we asked. The result was a flood of actionable intelligence that allowed us to disrupt planned operations, including rocket attacks against Saigon.

Admittedly, it would be hard to make a story from nearly 40 years ago into a definitive case study. But there is a useful reminder here. The key to successful interrogation is for the interrogator - even as he controls the situation - to recognize a prisoner's humanity, to understand his culture, background and language. Torture makes this impossible.

There's a sad twist here. Cheney forgets that the Bush administration followed this approach with some success. A high-value prisoner subjected to patient interrogation by an Arabic-speaking FBI agent yielded highly useful information, including the final word on Iraq's weapons programs.

His name was Saddam Hussein.

David Rose in Vanity Fair 12/08:

… In researching this article, I spoke to numerous counterterrorist officials from agencies on both sides of the Atlantic. Their conclusion is unanimous: not only have coercive methods failed to generate significant and actionable intelligence, they have also caused the squandering of resources on a massive scale through false leads, chimerical plots, and unnecessary safety alerts—with Abu Zubaydah’s case one of the most glaring examples.

Here, they say, far from exposing a deadly plot, all torture did was lead to more torture of his supposed accomplices while also providing some misleading “information” that boosted the administration’s argument for invading Iraq. 

In fact, torture produced deadly consequences - for Americans.

"Matthew Alexander" led an interrogations team assigned to a Special Operations task force in Iraq in 2006. He is the author of "How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq."

I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It's no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans.

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Comments

Truth...

  • pepawjoe0943's picture
    pepawjoe0943
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along with honesty does not even appear in the past adminstrations vocabulary, or in their dictionary.
Anyone who beleives that a commission investigation will uncover the truth about the war crimes of the Bush regime, are only pissing against the wind. If any type investigaion, without any legal clout what-so-ever, appears to be just another attempt to utilize nothing but delaying tactics and "MORE OF THE SAME" Washington politics.
I am not giving up totally on President Obama's promise to bring NEEDED change to Washington, but, until he makes a more positive move toward listening and acting on what, "We the People", have mandated, and prioritized our demand for criminal investigations, and all legal avenues available to try and convict all war crimes, and domestic crimes by Bush and his adminstration. President Obama could and should have a hard time convincing those of us who demand results, versus WORDS, that he can accomplish his promises to the American People. We want someone that ," We the People" can TRUST, and have FAITH in his ACTIONS.