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One of the ugliest features of Ameria's ridiculously named "war on terror" launched during the Bush administration was our nation's acceptance of torture. Torturing humans whom you have under your control is immoral and can never be justified by a country who claims they are an example of freedom, the rule of law and a model shining human rights-city on a hill.
But torture is not only immoral and illegal.....it doesn't produce reliable results. In fact, the primary reason to torture someone is to coerce a false confession....to force your captive to say something you WANT him to say.
I bring this up in light of the killing of Osama Bin Laden because there already are those in the neo-conservative pro-torture camp who are claiming that torture tactics, carried out 8 years ago against a couple of detainees, led to the key information American leaders needed to find Bin Laden this past Sunday night.
Bin Laden communicated with al-Qaeda operatives by using couriers. Couriers whom he trusted with his life. All other means of messaging could be, and had been, compromised. U.S. military and CIA officials were finally able to find Bin Laden's location by tracking one of these couriers.
The AP reported yesterday that....
Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden’s most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi.
Two points here. First, KLM and al-Libi offered up a nickname. That's all. We do not know whether either man actually knew the name of Bin Laden's courier. What we know is that all interrogators got from these two detainees was a nickname.
Detainees also identified this man as one of the few al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin Laden. They indicated he might be living with and protecting bin Laden. But for years, we were unable to identify his true name or his location.
Four years ago, we uncovered his identity, and for operational reasons, I can’t go into details about his name or how we identified him, but about two years ago, after months of persistent effort, we identified areas in Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated.
Here we find the utter ridiculousness of the "ticking timebomb scenario", the bankruptcy of the "24" teevee show silliness. It took our intelligence community four years to find the real identity of this courier whose nickname was dropped by two detainees in 2003.
Secondly, there is NO evidence that this nickname was ever given up as a result of torture. All claims to the contrary are unsubstantiated assertions made by, apparently, advocates for a continuation of U.S torture programs.
On the contrary, the evidence we have now explains that the nickname of the courier was obtained from Khalid Sheik Mohammed under "normal interrogation approaches."
Donald Rumsfeld, yesterday....
"...It is true that some information that came from normal interrogation approaches at Guantanamo did lead to information that was beneficial in this instance. But it was not harsh treatment and it was not waterboarding.”
In the coming days, as corporate media wears us entirely out with the story of how Bin Laden was killed, keep an ear open for the propaganda that suggests that torture worked and President Bush has been vindicated....because it has already begun.
Torture, however it is lipsticked up to hide all the hideousness, cannot be an acceptable practice in a free and just society. Torture is inhumane and immoral. Torture does not produce reliable information, only false confessions. Any attempt to argue otherwise in the past has only been an attempt to justify the crimes ordered under the Bush administration. There's a reason those CIA torture tapes were destroyed.
All attempts to justify torture tactics in the wake of Bin Laden's killing will only be attempts at retroactive ass covering by political operatives intent on salvaging the unsalvageable legacies of former American leaders.