More on the torture distraction.

Thursday, May 5th, 2011 @ 2:30 pm | Politics

Complete smackdown by Dahlia Lithwick here makes me wince for not knowing everything she says already. Good bit:

Lack of facts can also be highly probative. For example: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was water-boarded 183 times in 2003, lied about knowing Bin Laden’s courier, as did Abu Faraj al-Libi, who was interrogated in 2005. They offered no useful information. Yet torture advocates now say that because both men denied knowing the courier—thus tipping off the CIA that he must be someone important—torture must work. Got it? Torture works when the prisoners disclose information, but it also works when they don’t. It’s win-win!

She links to Tonya Somander’s great piece also (click to get all the embedded links):

If there’s anything to be learned from the intelligence officials involved in this long-standing intelligence operation, it’s just that. It takes a long time. Interrogators first learned of the courier’s existence in 2002. Mohammed was caught in 2003. Jump two years and 183 waterboarding sessions later, and many inside the CIA conclude that “the bin Laden hunt ha[s] grown cold” and now they should “overhaul” their operations. Cue Operation Cannonball — “a bureaucratic reshuffling that placed more C.I.A case officers on the ground in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

From that, they learn the courier’s family name. Then, by the often preferred technique of intercepting telephone calls and e-mail messages, they got the courier’s full name. In July 2010, they spot him driving to Abbottabad. May 1, 2011, Osama bin Laden is pronounced dead. The killing of bin Laden was a long process, spanning three presidents, two wars, and multiple layers of intelligence gathered over nearly a decade. In that long process, one thing has become clear. Mohammed was waterboarded and nothing “direct” resulted from it. The White House’s spokesman Tommy Vietor lays out the bottom line: “The bottom line is this: If we had some kind of smoking-gun intelligence from waterboarding in 2003, we would have taken out Osama bin Laden in 2003.”

Maybe if we’d crushed some infant skulls we’d have found out more sooner? Torture begets more torture. Also, lots of radicalized bastards who counterbalance the psychological gains of offing bin Laden. The suggestion that torture ever had any part in tracking bin Laden only detracts from the psychological value of his death.

-hw

5 Responses to “More on the torture distraction.”

  1. Liberal Shark Says:

    “We had multiple series of sources that provided information with regards to this situation… clearly some of it came from detainees [and] they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of those detainees,” CIA Director Leon Panetta confirming that the use of waterboarding provided results leading to the location and killing of bin Laden, in an interview with NBC News anchor Brian Williams.

  2. Henry Whistler Says:

    So:

    a) Some info came from detainees
    b) Some detainees were tortured.

    Unfortunately, that does not lead to what you want, c) Torture, and only torture could have produced that info.

    Naturally, you didn’t read my post at all, in which the actual specifics of what info came from who and how are alluded to. If torture works so well, why were KSM and al-Libi still lying?

    Then again, I’m pretending I’ll get an honest dialogue out of Mike Thayer. Bin Laden will rise from the ocean and fly over New York before that happens.

  3. Liberal Shark Says:

    Your denial of reality is amusing. CIA Director Leon Panetta confirmed that waterboarding led to intel used in locating and killing bin Laden, he did so Tuesday on national TV, and you pretend it didn’t happen.

    I guess you’ll never grow up.

  4. Liberal Shark Says:

    Reality: CIA Director Leon Panetta says waterboarding led to locating and killing bin Laden.

    Iowa Liberal B.S.: “We don’t believe him! We would rather quote and link to some third party sources who weren’t even in the loop on the intel, who say “enhanced” interrogation techniques don’t work. We are going with that because that fits our agenda, screw the truth!”

    Liberals are incapable of honest dialog.

  5. Henry Whistler Says:

    Like I said: “Naturally, you didn’t read my post at all, in which the actual specifics of what info came from who and how are alluded to. If torture works so well, why were KSM and al-Libi still lying?”

    Your response is to say my source is bad. Well, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, of course. My source, Lithwick, isn’t making that up, of course, it’s been widely reported in the NYT and elsewhere, so it stands. Respond properly or please shut up.

    “I think that without a doubt, torture and enhanced interrogation techniques slowed down the hunt for bin Laden,” said an Air Force interrogator who goes by the pseudonym Matthew Alexander and located Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, in 2006.

    Fuller picture:

    Dan Froomkin

    Torture apologists are reaching precisely the wrong conclusion from the back-story of the hunt for Osama bin Laden, say experienced interrogators and intelligence professionals.

    Defenders of the Bush administration’s interrogation policies have claimed vindication from reports that bin Laden was tracked down in small part due to information received from brutalized detainees some six to eight years ago.

    But that sequence of events — even if true — doesn’t demonstrate the effectiveness of torture, these experts say. Rather, it indicates bin Laden could have been caught much earlier had those detainees been interrogated properly.

    “I think that without a doubt, torture and enhanced interrogation techniques slowed down the hunt for bin Laden,” said an Air Force interrogator who goes by the pseudonym Matthew Alexander and located Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, in 2006.

    It now appears likely that several detainees had information about a key al Qaeda courier — information that might have led authorities directly to bin Laden years ago. But subjected to physical and psychological brutality, “they gave us the bare minimum amount of information they could get away with to get the pain to stop, or to mislead us,” Alexander told The Huffington Post.

    “We know that they didn’t give us everything, because they didn’t provide the real name, or the location, or somebody else who would know that information,” he said.

    In a 2006 study by the National Defense Intelligence College, trained interrogators found that traditional, rapport-based interviewing approaches are extremely effective with even the most hardened detainees, whereas coercion consistently builds resistance and resentment.

    “Had we handled some of these sources from the beginning, I would like to think that there’s a good chance that we would have gotten this information or other information,” said Steven Kleinman, a longtime military intelligence officer who has extensively researched, practiced and taught interrogation techniques.

    “By making a detainee less likely to provide information, and making the information he does provide harder to evaluate, they hindered what we needed to accomplish,” said Glenn L. Carle, a retired CIA officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002.

    Also this:

    http://www.fas.org/irp/dni/educing.pdf

    Also, I could not have pretended Panetta didn’t say what he said, since I directly broke down what he said.

    Shame and dishonor upon you, Thayer! Naughty naughty boy!