Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Rationalizing Torture- Er, Enhanced Interrogation

Retired CIA officer Marty Martin once led efforts to hunt down Osama bin Laden. Defending those infamous "harsh interrogation methods" supporters are loathe to identify as torture, Martin says "We got beat up for it, but those efforts led to this great day." Iowa Republican Steven King tweeted "Wonder what President Obama thinks of water boarding now?" Another King, Republican Peter of New York, maintained "We obtained that information through waterboarding. So for those who say that waterboarding doesn’t work, who say it should be stopped and never used again, we got vital information, which directly led us to Bin Laden."

The charge was led on Monday by the GOP's de facto head, Rush Limbaugh, who asked rhetorically

Also, folks, will the Bush lawyers, who suggested harsh interrogation techniques -- suggesting that constitutionally and legally those techniques were okay -- be hailed as heroes, or will the regime continue to pursue them legally?

Tuesday, Rush would maintain that the Obama administration has

not reinstituted the Bush and Cheney human gathering methods. They have not reinstituted enhanced interrogations. They've wiped that stuff out. They have done away with much that they utilized or that was utilized to permit the successful operation on Sunday.

Actually, the Bush administration itself ended those "enhanced interrogations"- and prior to gaining most, if not all, of the information which led to the successful raid. Although Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was tortured in a CIA black site in Europe, most evidence indicates that he gave up information under standard interrogation techniques.

According to the Associated Press

in May 2005, al-Libi was captured. Under CIA interrogation, al-Libi admitted that when he was promoted to succeed Mohammed, he received the word through a courier. But he made up a name for the courier and denied knowing al-Kuwaiti, a denial that was so adamant and unbelievable that the CIA took it as confirmation that he and Mohammed were protecting the courier. It only reinforced the idea that al-Kuwaiti was very important to al-Qaida.

If they could find the man known as al-Kuwaiti, they'd find bin Laden....

Mohammed did not discuss al-Kuwaiti while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He acknowledged knowing him many months later under standard interrogation, they said, leaving it once again up for debate as to whether the harsh technique was a valuable tool or an unnecessarily violent tactic.

We don't know for sure that waterboarding contributed nothing to the hunt for Osama bin Laden, although even former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld now acknowledges that it probably did not. There is little evidence thus far that it assisted the effort- and many Bush apologists want us to believe that it, as well as rendition, were the primary tactics responsible for acquiring the information needed. Most of all, many conservatives, characteristically, are expressing certitude- better to be certain and wrong than uncertain and right.

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