Monday, May 02, 2011

In Reply: In spite of the meme, is there any solid evidence that "harsh interrogation" played any part in finding ObL?

Revised and extended, in reply to the following AP blurb, posted at Officials: CIA interrogators at secret prisons developed first strands that led to bin Laden |
WASHINGTON - Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

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. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.

The news is sure to reignite debate over whether the now-closed interrogation and detention program was successful. Former president George W. Bush authorized the CIA to use the harshest interrogation tactics in U.S. history. President Barack Obama closed the prison system.
Not a single official willing to go on record, though...

Perhaps they could at least clarify the methods used to obtain the information--because in spite of many of the claims being made in these comments and throughout the blogosphere, I don't see any official account saying that the intentional near drowning of any detainee lead to our getting the information in question.

There's a whole lotta disinformation, rearguard CYA, and wishful thinkin' going on around this story, methinks... It'd be far more believable if someone would speak on the record, and end the speculation and guesswork.

Nobody wanted to close Gitmo or any of the secret prisons because they were ineffective or didn't provide information; Obama and others wanted to close them because they'd become legal black holes, where people are being held without benefit of trial or conviction, and some of us believe that it is unAmerican / unjust to do that to ANYONE, no matter their nationality or the circumstances under which they were captured. Inalienable, God-given rights apply to everyone, or they're not inalienable, or God-given. If one has foundational principles, they apply across the board. Otherwise, they're nothing more than wishy-washy situational ethics. (And yes, I understand that Gitmo is legal; I'm not saying otherwise. What I am saying is it's immoral, and not in keeping with the notion that all men (not all citizens, but all men) are created equal, and should be treated that way, before the law.)

I've seen nothing to suggest that the information used to ultimately find Osama bin Laden was gathered through the use of intentional drowning or any other "harsh interrogation" method, or that Obama's failure to close Guantanamo in 2009 in any way helped them gather the information they did in 2007 or before (4 years ago). If anyone has solid evidence to the contrary--hopefully something with a name attached to it, this time--I'd be most interested in reading what you have to say.

As I've said elsewhere, I believe that a whole lot of named and nameless individuals working for or with either (or both) the Bush administration and the Obama administration, as well as the folks in the military who carried out the mission, deserve a whole lot of credit for finally getting this done. But there is zero evidence that any credit goes to Gitmo or the black sites as prisons, or to torture as a method of gathering information. (Even where KSM was concerned, reports are most of the reliable info they got from him was when he WASN'T being tortured, rather than when he was.) ((And where is this "KSM gave up the OBL info" meme coming from, btw... That's another one that seems to have no basis in fact...))

Posted (in shorter form) at the link above, May. 2, 2011 at 12:51 PM ( time)

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