Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The CIA and torture

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Milt Bearden, who formerly worked for the CIA, writes a compelling report in the Washington Independent today. It begins:

Over the last several months, there has been a gradual, but unrelenting, outing of the highest level U.S. government involvement in the sordid business of torture. CIA Director Michael V. Hayden admitted, in his February testimony before Congress, that the Central Intelligence Agency used a technique known as waterboarding on three high-profile Al Qaeda detainees. He also said the CIA had not used the technique in five years — though the administration seems to be asserting that the agency can use it, when necessary.

President George W. Bush told ABC News in April, “I’m aware our national-security team met on this issue. And I approved.” The president was referring to reports that the National Security Council’s “principals committee” — the vice president, the secretaries of state and defense, the head of the NSC and the CIA director — discussed and approved the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking with Google employees in Mountain View, Calif., in May, said, “after Sept. 11, whatever was legal in the face of not just the attacks of Sept. 11, but the anthrax attacks that happened, we were in an environment in which saving America from the next attack was paramount.” She added, “there has been a long evolution in American policy about detainees and about interrogations…we now have in place a law that was not there in 2002 and 2003.”

In just the last few weeks, a parade of White House, Defense Dept. and CIA lawyers have squirmed before hostile Congressional committees, giving testimony eerie in its clinical treatment of what most of the world thinks is torture. The hearings produced countless stunning quotes, but one attributed to a CIA lawyer stands out: “If the detainee dies, you’re doing it wrong.”

Indeed, they have been doing it wrong. But they all say they are doing it for us — for the protection of the American people.

Throughout this ugly drama, U.S. leaders have assured the public that the extreme interrogation measures used on detainees have thwarted acts of terrorist and saved thousands of American lives. The trouble with such claims is that professionals who know something of interrogation or intelligence don’t believe them. This is not just because the old 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.

The administration’s claims of having “saved thousands of Americans” can be dismissed out of hand because credible evidence has never been offered — not even an authoritative leak of any major terrorist operation interdicted based on information gathered from these interrogations in the past seven years. All the public gets is repeated references to Jose Padilla, the Lakawanna Six, the Liberty Seven and the Library Tower operation in Los Angeles. If those slapstick episodes are the true character of the threat, then maybe we’ll be okay after all.

When challenged on the lack of a game-changing example of a derailed operation, administration officials usually say that the need to protect sources and methods prevents revealing just how enhanced interrogation techniques have saved so many thousands of Americans. But 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.

Continue reading to learn the consequences of the CIA’s policy (under Presidential direction).

Written by Leisureguy

1 July 2008 at 10:58 am

Posted in Bush Administration, GOP

Tagged with ,

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