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Torturing Detainees Cost American Lives

By The Reverend Published: April 29, 2009

Conservatives, arguing that Bush era torture crimes should not be investigated or prosecuted, have chosen to resort to a slogan in defending their position. Torture, "saved American lives". Therefore, the slogan implies, torture should not be prosecuted as a crime.

Not only is the slogan not factual, the truth is just the opposite of the slogan. The introduction, by the Bush White House, of barbaric torture techniques into the fight against Islamic extremists resulted in the deaths of many Americans. Because the Bush administration implemented a torture regime in Guantanomo, in Thailand, in Afghanistan, and finally in Iraq at the Abu Ghraib prison,...... because of that torture, many American soldiers are now dead.

Here's the evidence.....

"The reason why foreign fighters joined al-Qa'ida in Iraq was overwhelmingly because of abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and not Islamic ideology," says Major Matthew Alexander, who personally conducted 300 interrogations of prisoners in Iraq.

Here's a man who walked the walk and is now telling the truth. Alexander didn't get his information from Fox and Rush, he didn't find it in The Dick's desk drawer......he got his information from "personally conduct(ing) 300 interrogations of prisoners in Iraq." Newt Gingrich interrogated zero prisoners in Iraq, Sean Hannity interviewed zero prisoners in Iraq, The Dick, himself, conducted zero interviews of prisoners,.....but Major Matthew Alexander conducted 300 interrogations of prisoners in Iraq.

Alexander says the reason foreign fighters came to Iraq was because of American torture. Those foreign fighters he interrogated, and many others not in prison at the time, were motivated to come and risk their lives in an attempt to kill American soldiers because Americans tortured Arab and Muslim prisoners. Those fighters, without doubt, were responsible for many American casualties inside Iraq.

What Major Alexander learned....

Before he started interrogating insurgent prisoners in Iraq, he had been told that they were highly ideological and committed to establishing an Islamic caliphate in Iraq, Major Alexander says.

Remember all the wingnut hype about an "Islamic caliphate"? Major Alexander had heard that propaganda too. He soon found out that is was only wingnut propaganda.....

In the case of foreign fighters – recruited mostly from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and North Africa – the reason cited by the great majority for coming to Iraq was what they had heard of the torture in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. These abuses, not fundamentalist Islam, had provoked so many of the foreign fighters volunteering to become suicide bombers.

Major Alexander is not just any run-of-the-mill military interrogator. Without resorting to Bush's torture techniques, this is what he accomplished....

The objective of Major Alexander's team was to find Zarqawi, the Jordanian born leader of al-Qa'ida who built it into a fearsome organisation. Attempts by US military intelligence to locate him had failed despite three years of trying. Major Alexander was finally able to persuade one of Zarqawi's associates to give away his location because the associate had come to reject his methods, such as the mass slaughter of civilians.

From Major Alexander's account, we can draw two conclusions.

1) American soldiers were killed inside Iraq BECAUSE foreign fighters specifically came to Iraq to kill Americans after learning about the torture, by Americans, of Arab and Muslim captives at Guantanomo and Abu Ghraib.

2) Interrogating prisoners using non-Bush-torture techniques yielded the highest level target in Iraq, Zarqawi....considered the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Summary: Torturing detainees not only produced phony intelligence, worthless intelligence....but it also inspired many Arabs and Muslims to journey to Iraq for the express purpose of killing American soldiers.

The Bush program of torturing detainees, far from saving American lives, cost American lives. Truly useful information, you know, actionable intelligence, was gathered by non-torture, conventional interrogation methods.

Read Alexander Cockburn's larger take of Major Alexander's new book here.
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Brief comment on Arlen Specter. To me, Specter (R turned D-PA) is the GOP's version of Joe Lieberman. Specter, like Lieberman, has a one member constituency...himself. Fearing a GOP primary loss, Senator Specter jumped to the Democratic Party yesterday where his prospects for re-election are rosier.

Specter, as a Democrat, will be just like Specter, the Republican. His votes will be cast as they were before....primarily for Republican policies. His alleged filibuster-proof vote (after Franken is seated) will not be dependable. Specter will work, as a Democrat, to weaken Democratic policy initiatives.

The only value from yesterday's news about Specter was what he said about today's extremist and exclusive Republican Party. But that wasn't really news.

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