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All Da King's Men

Terrorist Interrogation Methods Worked. Was It Worth It ?

By Da King Published: August 25, 2009

With the release of the CIA Inspector General's (IG) 2004 report about Bush-era interrogation of terrorists, I assume you've all heard what the media wants you to hear - that one terrorist was threatened with a loaded gun and a power drill, that a pretend execution of a terrorist was carried out to get another terrorist to talk, that a threat was made against a terrorist's children, that a threat was made against a terrorist's mother. None of these threats were carried out, of course. They were just CIA interrogator mindgames being played to scare terrorists into talking. Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate any CIA interrogation techniques that were not authorized, that went beyond what was outlined in the DOJ memos. President Obama has basically washed his hands of the matter, leaving the decision for prosecutions of CIA personnel up to Holder, who repeated his promise that there will be no prosecutions of CIA personnel "who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by" Bush administration lawyers.

Because you are sure to hear every lurid detail of every allegation being made against our interrogators, I'll skip spelling any more of that out for now. It is worth noting that the CIA IG report does admit that most of the allegations are uncorroborated. From the report:

For all of the instances, the allegations were disputed or too ambiguous to reach any authoritative determination regarding the facts. Thus, although these allegations are illustrative of the nature of the concerns held by individuals associated with the CTC Program and the need for clear guidance, they did not warrant separate investigations or administrative action.

Exceptions from the above are two incidents involving a CIA debriefer (not a trained interrogator) who was singled out by the CIA IG for special investigation. These incidents involved threats made against Abd al-Nashiri, the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing and other terrorist attacks. This CIA debriefer made the gun, power drill, mock execution, and mother threats against al-Nashiri (and all al-Nashiri did was murder 17 American sailors and others. How dare we scare the poor dear ?).

What our media hasn't bothered to tell you is that the early interrogation and Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT's) used against terrorist monsters like al-Nashiri, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and Abu Zubaydah worked, just like former VP Dick Cheney said they did. Cheney was ridiculed endlessly for saying that, but the CIA IG report leaves no doubt. Here are the IG's conclusions on the interrogations:

The detention of terrorists has prevented them from engaging in further terrorist activity, and their interrogation has provided intelligence that has enabled the identification and apprehension of other terrorists, warned of terrorist plots planned for the United States and around the world, and supported articles frequently used in the finished intelligence publications for senior policymakers and war fighters. In this regard, there is no doubt that the Program has been effective. ... Detainee information has assisted in the identification of terrorists. For example, information from Abu Zubaydah helped lead to the identification of Jose Padilla and Binyam Muhammed--operatives who had plans to detonate a uranium-topped dirty bomb in either Washington, D.C. or New York City. Riduan "Hambali" Isomuddin provided information that led to the arrest of previously unknown members of an Al Qa'ida cell in Karachi. They were designated as pilots for an aircraft attack against the United States. Many other detainees, including lower-level detainees such as Zubayr and Majid Khan, have provided leads to other terrorists, but probably the most prolific has been Khalid Shaykh Muhammad. He provided information that helped lead to the arrest of terrorists including Sayfullah Paracha and his son Uzair Paracha, businessmen whom Khalid Shaykh Muhammad planned to use to smuggle explosives into the United States; Saleh Almari, a sleeper operative in New York; and Majid Khan, an operative who could enter the United States easily and was tasked to research attacks [redacted]. Khalid Shaykh Muhammad's information also led to the investigation and prosecution of Iyman Faris, the truck driver arrested in early 2003 in Ohio. [redacted]

Detainees, both planners and operatives, have also made the Agency aware of several plots planned for the United States and around the world. The plots identify plans to [redacted] attack the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan; hijack aircraft to fly into Heathrow Airport [redacted] loosen track spikes in an attempt to derail a train in the United States; [redacted]; blow up several U.S. gas stations to create panic and havoc; hijack and fly an airplane into the tallest building in California in a west coast version of the World Trade Center attack; cut the lines of suspension bridges in New York in an effort to make them collapse; [redacted].

This Review did not uncover any evidence that these plots were imminent. Agency senior managers believe that lives have been saved as a result of the capture and interrogation of terrorists who were planning attacks, in particular Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, Abu Zubaydah, Hambali, and Al-Nashiri.

Now, knowing some of my left-leaning readers as I do, I'm sure y'all will jump on that last sentence about the plots not being imminent. To those readers, I can only say, it's a lot better to uncover and prevent plots BEFORE the planes are in the air, BEFORE the suicide bomber is in the market with explosives strapped to his chest. Stopping attacks before they are imminent is called SUCCESS.

The CIA IG report also goes into the specific effectiveness of the EIT's, which included waterboarding:

The waterboard has been used on three detainees....
Prior to the use of EITs, Abu Zubaydah provided information for [redacted] intelligence reports. Interrogators applied the waterboard to Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times during August 2002. [The report explains that each application of water is counted separately, and most of the 83 applications lasted less than ten seconds.] During the period between the end of the use of the waterboard and 30 April 2003, he provided information for approximately [redacted] intelligence reports. It is not possible to say definitively that the waterboard is the reason for Abu Zubaydah's increased production, or if another factor, such as the length of detention, was the catalyst. Since the use of the waterboard, however, Abu Zubaydah has appeared to be cooperative.
With respect to A-Nashiri, [redacted] reported two waterboard sessions in November 2002, after which the psychologist/interrogators determined that Al-Nashiri was compliant....Because of the litany of techniques used by different interrogators over a relatively short period of time, it is difficult to identify exactly why Al-Nashiri became more willing to provide information. However, following the use of EITs, he provided information about his most current operational planning and [redacted] as opposed to the historical information he provided before the use of EITs.

On the other hand, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, an accomplished resistor, provided only a few intelligence reports prior to the use of the waterboard, and analysis of that information revealed that much of it was outdated, inaccurate, or incomplete.

The EIT's worked, whether we like them or not. Was it worth it ? Was it worth providing temporary discomfort to terrorists to save innocent lives ? That's what we did, and that's why we did it. I'll leave the answer to those questions for you to decide.

At least some CIA personnel knew they were on shaky ground from a legal standpoint. From the report:

During the course of this Review, a number of Agency officers expressed unsolicited concern about the possibility of recrimination or legal action resulting from their participation in the CTC Program. A number of officers expressed concern that a human rights group might pursue them for activities [redacted]. Additionally, they feared that the Agency would not stand behind them if this occurred.
One officer expressed concern that one day, Agency officers will wind up on some "wanted list" to appear before the World Court for war crimes stemming from their activities [redacted]. Another said, " Ten years from now we're going to be sorry we're doing this...[but] it has to be done." He expressed concern that the CTC Program will be exposed in the news media and cited particular concern about the possibility of being named in a leak.

That last quote was prescient, and I'm willing to bet the leaks of CIA interrogator names will begin in 3, 2, 1.........

Just as the New York Times leaked the name of CIA operative and KSM interrogator Deuce Martinez back in 2008, against the CIA's wishes. You may not remember that leak, because somehow, it didn't generate years of media coverage, investigations and criminal accusations, as did the leak of CIA analyst Valerie Plame's name by Bob Novak. You see, it's DIFFERENT when liberals leak classified information. The Times leaks classified information all the time. It's only a crime when a Republican does it. The reason it's DIFFERENT is because...........well, I have no idea why. I guess it's because liberals are the good guys and the Republicans are evil, or something. I can't figure it out. It all just seems like an enormous double standard to me.

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