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Speaking of the enhanced interrogation techniques used against high-level terrorists like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks), President Obama said America must maintain it's ideals and values "even when it's hard." Obama has banned the techniques.
Here are real life examples of how "hard" it can get. From CNSNews:
After KSM was captured by the United States, he was not initially cooperative with CIA interrogators. Nor was another top al Qaeda leader named Zubaydah.
Before they were subjected to “enhanced techniques” of interrogation that included waterboarding, KSM and Zubaydah were not only uncooperative but also appeared contemptuous of the will of the American people to defend themselves.
“Both KSM and Zubaydah had ‘expressed their belief that the general US population was ‘weak,’ lacked resilience, and would be unable to ‘do what was necessary’ to prevent the terrorists from succeeding in their goals.’
Before he was waterboarded, when KSM was asked about planned attacks on the United States, he ominously told his CIA interrogators, “Soon, you will know.”
And after KSM was waterboarded ?
The Central Intelligence Agency told CNSNews.com today that it stands by the assertion made in a May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo that the use of “enhanced techniques” of interrogation on al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) -- including the use of waterboarding -- caused KSM to reveal information that allowed the U.S. government to thwart a planned attack on Los Angeles.
You have informed us that the interrogation of KSM—once enhanced techniques were employed—led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the ‘Second Wave,’ ‘to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into’ a building in Los Angeles,” says the memo.
“You have informed us that information obtained from KSM also led to the capture of Riduan bin Isomuddin, better known as Hambali, and the discover of the Guraba Cell, a 17-member Jemaah Islamiyah cell tasked with executing the ‘Second Wave,’” reads the memo. “More specifically, we understand that KSM admitted that he had [redaction] large sum of money to an al Qaeda associate [redaction] … Khan subsequently identified the associate (Zubair), who was then captured. Zubair, in turn, provided information that led to the arrest of Hambali. The information acquired from these captures allowed CIA interrogators to pose more specific questions to KSM, which led the CIA to Hambali’s brother, al Hadi. Using information obtained from multiple sources, al-Hadi was captured, and he subsequently identified the Garuba cell. With the aid of this additional information, interrogations of Hambali confirmed much of what was learned from KSM.”
A CIA spokesman confirmed to CNSNews.com today that the CIA stands by the factual assertions made here.
In the memo itself, the Justice Department’s Bradbury told the CIA’s Rossi: “Your office has informed us that the CIA believes that ‘the intelligence acquired from these interrogations has been a key reason why al Qa’ida has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West since 11 September 2001.”
That's pretty clear.
Several top officials have confirmed that the harsh interrogation techniques used on KSM and Abu Zubaydah yielded results. Former CIA head Michael Hayden said fully half of our Al Qaeda intelligence was derived from those interrogations. Several other CIA sources have concurred. Vice President Cheney said the same thing. President Obama's own National Intelligence Director, Dennis Blair, has confirmed that invaluable intelligence was gained from those interrogations.
Yes, we can all agree in principle that torture should not be used, but President Bush made some "hard" choices based on "hard" reality that resulted in American lives being saved following 9/11. What similar "hard" choices do you think President Obama would have made ? Would being nice to KSM have dissuaded him and induced him to reveal what he knew ? We all know the answer to that. Not in a million years. It's entirely likely that being nice to KSM would have resulted in the Second Wave of Al Qaeda attacks, with more American skyscrapers falling to the ground.
It's easy to be criticial and high-minded in hindsight, especially when you are not the one who has to make those "hard" decisions.
Neither Bush nor his lawyers should be prosecuted for decisions they made to protect American citizens against Al Qaeda. As Obama said previously, let's move forward.
Btw, the 2005 Justice Deparment memo stated that the waterboard technique was to be used only under the following circumstances, which is why it was only used on three high-level Al Qaeda detainees:
The ‘waterboard,’ which is the most intense of the CIA interrogation techniques, is subject to additional limits,” explained the May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo. “ It may be used on a High Value Detainee only if the CIA has ‘credible intelligence that a terrorist attack is imminent’; ‘substantial and credible indicators that the subject has actionable intelligence that can prevent, disrupt or deny this attack’; and ‘[o]ther interrogation methods have failed to elicit this information within the perceived time limit for preventing the attack.’”
So, Bush made the decision to waterboard due to credible evidence of an imminent attack. Isn't that very similar to the standard for violence Obama set against the Somali pirates who were holding the American captain hostage ? Sounds like it to me. Obama instructed the Navy to take down the pirates only if the captain's life was under immediate threat. Should we prosecute Obama for murder for saving the Captain ? NO.
Let's move forward here, rather than going back and prosecuting our own government officials over this, which would certainly create a major divisive political firestorm in this country. We have enough problems already.