Since the death of Bin Laden, the torture supporters have been in chest thumping mode, saying that it was the
harsh interrogation torture of detainees that lead to the intel:
Finally, 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.
The revelation that intelligence gleaned from the CIA’s so-called black sites helped kill bin Laden was seen as vindication for many intelligence officials who have been repeatedly investigated and criticized for their involvement in a program that involved the harshest interrogation methods in U.S. history.
“We got beat up for it, but those efforts led to this great day,” said Marty Martin, a retired CIA officer who for years led the hunt for bin Laden.
But, as it turns out, it wasn’t torture that lead to the information:
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.
Not only does it get the debate going – it reframes it.
We have no idea exactly how long al-Libi was subject to the harsh techniques, but I would say if he didn’t spill the information within hours of the initial treatment, then the main talking point of torture must now be considered null and void. Remember that talking point? It was the 24 scenario:
“A WMD is getting ready to go off somewhere in the country in the next 24 hours. We have a guy in custody who can tell us where it is and how to stop it. Wouldn’t you resort to these tactics to save thousands of lives?”
We heard that from numerous torture proponents, all the way up to Dick Cheney himself. This was how they attempted to sell the techniques and those of us on the other side of the debate never bought it. Well now we got proof. al-Libi is now our human guinea pig that validates our doubts. He went through the tactics and never gave up the information, and even though we don’t know how long he went through it, I would say he spent more than 24 hours being subject to the treatment. If we was our suspect in the popular 24 scenario, the bomb would have long gone off and we would already be cleaning up, with the suspect never talking.
The point is that torture doesn’t work. The mind will shut down and people will end up saying anything to get it to stop, and by anything I mean anything but the truth. This week we found even more proof to back up our point on this. Standard interrogation techniques provide far more valuable intel than torturing.