Why Torture Doesn’t Work

By Brig. Gen. David R. Irvine, AlterNet
Posted on November 22, 2005, Printed on June 7, 2011

Remarkably, of the nation’s major newspapers, only the Wall Street Journal has editorialized in support of torture as a useful tool of American intelligence policy. Regrettably, that position does a huge disservice to the nation and its soldiers. There are really only three issues in this debate, and the Journal carefully turned a blind eye to all three: (1) is torture reliable, (2) is it consistent with America’s values and Constitution, and (3) does it best serve our national interests?

No one has yet offered any validated evidence that torture produces reliable intelligence. While torture apologists frequently make the claim that torture saves lives, that assertion is directly contradicted by many Army, FBI, and CIA professionals who have actually interrogated al Qaeda captives. Exhibit A is the torture-extracted confession of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, an al Qaeda captive who told the CIA in 2001, having been “rendered” to the tender mercies of Egypt, that Saddam Hussein had trained al Qaeda to use WMD. It appears that this confession was the only information upon which, in late 2002, the president, the vice president, and the secretary of state repeatedly claimed that “credible evidence” supported that claim, even though a now-declassified Defense Intelligence Agency report from February 2002 questioned the reliability of the confession because it was likely obtained under torture. In January 2004, al-Libi recanted his “confession,” and a month later, the CIA recalled all intelligence reports based on his statements.

Exhibit B is the case of Manadel al-Jamadi, an Iraqi deemed a “high-value” target by the CIA. After being beaten to an extent that he had several broken ribs, he was subjected to a form of crucifixion known as “Palestinian hanging.” Forty-five minutes later, he was dead, never having revealed whatever vital, ticking-bomb information his American interrogator was seeking.

If there is reliable evidence that torture has, in fact, interrupted ticking time bombs and saved lives, the gravity of the crisis created by the administration’s free-wheeling torture policy demands straight answers which can be weighed and evaluated by a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission whose membership might include interrogators, jurists, theologians, national security specialists, military leaders, and political leaders. The damage to our national interests and the dismal record of war candor by this administration has made “trust us” an insufficient justification for such a profound change in American law and moral values.

The Journal claims that Abu Ghraib was an anomaly — that it has become a “torture narrative” that erroneously blames the CIA for the abuses depicted in the infamous photographs. The Schlesinger report was cited for the conclusion that the perpetrators were merely a group of sadistic, poorly trained Reservists. This argument, however begs the question; the rationale for the McCain amendment rests not upon Abu Ghraib, but upon the cascading stream of documented reports from other places in Afghanistan and Iraq in which brutal torture has been either authorized or winked at by several different military and civilian chains of command.

The Journal further distorts the facts by arguing that techniques such as waterboarding (which induces the sensation of drowning), leaving prisoners outdoors in freezing weather, and stress positions which can cause suffocation and collapse, are not really “torture,” but are just “psychological techniques designed to break a detainee.” There is, certainly, a psychological component to torture, but the real issue is whether what’s done causes severe physical or mental pain or suffering. Of the crucifixion form of “psychological” pressure which the CIA worked upon Jamadi, one of the soldiers who cut him down said he had never seen anyone’s arms positioned like that; “[I] was surprised they didn’t just pop out of their sockets.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has endorsed the McCain amendments, and declared, “In the face of this perilous climate, our nation must not embrace a morality based on an attitude that ‘desperate times call for desperate measures.’ There can be no compromise on the moral imperative to protect the basic human rights of any individual incarcerated for any reason.” Our embrace of torture is completely inconsistent with our commitment to equal justice and the rule of law.

The Journal assumes that only the worst of the worst will be subjected to torture when it comes to ticking time bombs. Not only is that assumption unfounded, based upon the widespread abuses in Iraq, it was tried and abandoned by the Israelis. Because it is impossible to confirm with advance certainty what any suspect actually knows, ticking bomb torture can be justified in virtually every interrogation. When Israel experimented with “torture lite,” supposedly reserved for ticking-bomb circumstances, it was not long before 85 percent of all Palestinian detainees were being given the harshest treatment allowed. The capability to finely calibrate torture has eluded every democratic government which has tried it.

The inescapable fact is that America’s standing in the world, and especially in the Middle East, has never been lower. The price we have paid for our misdirected torture policies has been incalculable. The Arab street may not always grasp the finer points of separation of powers or proportional representation; but everyone, everywhere, comprehends hypocrisy, and judges us for ours. If the torture advocates truly believe that the value of violently coerced information has been worth the plummeting drop in America’s world stature, or that such information is worth the clear and present endangerment of captured Americans, it’s time to justify the claimed value of torture to the nation in whose name it’s being done. Not assumptions, not generalizations, not, “I can’t explain because it’s classified.”

The president and vice president wish to chart a course of heretofore unacceptable savagery toward anyone even suspected of terrorism. If we are to become a nation where a president may torture anyone he wishes, it deserves a broad, sober, fact-based national debate.

Brigadier General David R. Irvine is a retired Army Reserve strategic intelligence officer who taught prisoner interrogation and military law for 18 years with the Sixth Army Intelligence School. He currently practices law in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Learn more and help to make sure torture never again happens in America’s name by visiting Human Rights First’s campaign to End Torture.

© 2011 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/28585/

25 thoughts on “Why Torture Doesn’t Work

  1. In 2002, Military Agency Warned Against ‘Torture’
    Extreme Duress Could Yield Unreliable Information, It Said
    By Peter Finn and Joby Warrick
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Saturday, April 25, 2009

    The military agency that provided advice on harsh interrogation techniques for use against terrorism suspects referred to the application of extreme duress as “torture” in a July 2002 document sent to the Pentagon’s chief lawyer and warned that it would produce “unreliable information.”

    “The unintended consequence of a U.S. policy that provides for the torture of prisoners is that it could be used by our adversaries as justification for the torture of captured U.S. personnel,” says the document, an unsigned two-page attachment to a memo by the military’s Joint Personnel Recovery Agency. Parts of the attachment, obtained in full by The Washington Post, were quoted in a Senate report on harsh interrogation released this week.

    It remains unclear whether the attachment reached high-ranking officials in the Bush administration. But the document offers the clearest evidence that has come to light so far that technical advisers on the harsh interrogation methods voiced early concerns about the effectiveness of applying severe physical or psychological pressure.

    The document was included among July 2002 memorandums that described severe techniques used against Americans in past conflicts and the psychological effects of such treatment. JPRA ran the military program known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE), which trains pilots and others to resist hostile questioning.

    The cautionary attachment was forwarded to the Pentagon’s Office of the General Counsel as the administration finalized the legal underpinnings of a CIA interrogation program that would sanction the use of 10 forms of coercion, including waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning. The JPRA material was sent from the Pentagon to the CIA’s acting general counsel, John A. Rizzo, and on to the Justice Department, according to testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    A memo dated Aug. 1, 2002, from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel authorized the use of the 10 methods against Abu Zubaida, the nom de guerre of an al-Qaeda associate captured in Pakistan in March 2002. Former intelligence officials have recently contended that Abu Zubaida provided little useful information about the organization’s plans.

    Senate investigators were unable to determine whether William J. Haynes II, the Pentagon’s general counsel in 2002, passed the cautionary memo to Rizzo or to other Bush administration officials reviewing the CIA’s proposed program.

    Haynes declined to comment, as did Rizzo and the CIA. Jay S. Bybee, who as an assistant attorney general signed the Aug. 1 memo, did not respond to a request for comment.

    Daniel Baumgartner, who was the JPRA’s chief of staff in 2002 and transmitted the memos and attachments, said the agency “sent a lot of cautionary notes” regarding harsh techniques. “There is a difference between what we do in training and what the administration wanted the information for,” he said a telephone interview yesterday. “What the administration decided to do or not to do was up to the guys dealing with offensive prisoner operations. . . . We train our own people for the worst possible outcome . . . and obviously the United States government does not torture its own people.”

    Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he thinks the attachment was deliberately ignored and perhaps suppressed. Excerpts from the document appeared in a report on the treatment of detainees released this month by Levin’s committee. The report says the attachment echoes JPRA warnings issued in late 2001.

    “It’s part of a pattern of squelching dissent,” said Levin, who added that there were other instances in which internal reviews of detainee treatment were halted or undercut. “They didn’t want to hear the downside.”

    A former administration official said the National Security Council, which was briefed repeatedly that summer on the CIA’s planned interrogation program by George J. Tenet, then director of central intelligence, and agency lawyers, did not discuss the issues raised in the attachment. Tenet, through a spokesman, declined to comment.

    “That information was not brought to the attention of the principals,” said the official, who was involved in deliberations on interrogation policy and spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “That would have been relevant. The CIA did not present with pros and cons, or points of concern. They said this was safe and effective, and there was no alternative.”

    The Aug. 1 memo on the interrogation of Abu Zubaida draws from the JPRA’s memo on psychological effects to conclude that while waterboarding constituted “a threat of imminent death,” it did not cause “prolonged mental harm.” Therefore, the Aug. 1 memo concluded, waterboarding “would not constitute torture within the meaning of the statute.”

    But the JPRA’s two-page attachment, titled “Operational Issues Pertaining to the Use of Physical/Psychological Coercion in Interrogation,” questioned the effectiveness of employing extreme duress to gain intelligence.

    “The requirement to obtain information from an uncooperative source as quickly as possible — in time to prevent, for example, an impending terrorist attack that could result in loss of life — has been forwarded as a compelling argument for the use of torture,” the document said. “In essence, physical and/or psychological duress are viewed as an alternative to the more time-consuming conventional interrogation process. The error inherent in this line of thinking is the assumption that, through torture, the interrogator can extract reliable and accurate information. History and a consideration of human behavior would appear to refute this assumption.”

    There was no consideration within the National Security Council that the planned techniques stemmed from Chinese communist practices and had been deemed torture when employed against American personnel, the former administration official said. The U.S. military prosecuted its own troops for using waterboarding in the Philippines and tried Japanese officers on war crimes charges for its use against Americans and other allied nationals during World War II.

    The reasoning in the JPRA document contrasted sharply with arguments being pressed at the time by current and former military psychologists in the SERE program, including James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who later formed a company that became a CIA contractor advising on interrogations. Both men declined to comment on their role in formulating interrogation policy.

    The JPRA attachment said the key deficiency of physical or psychological duress is the reliability and accuracy of the information gained. “A subject in pain may provide an answer, any answer, or many answers in order to get the pain to stop,” it said.

    In conclusion, the document said, “the application of extreme physical and/or psychological duress (torture) has some serious operational deficits, most notably the potential to result in unreliable information.” The word “extreme” is underlined.

    Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.


  2. IG Report: Waterboarding Was Neither “Efficacious Or Medically Safe”
    Sam Stein – Huffington Post

    A CIA inspector general’s report from May 2004 that is set to be declassified by the Obama White House will almost certainly disprove claims that waterboarding was only used in controlled circumstances with effective results.

    On Monday, the Washington Post reported the impending release of a May 7, 2004 IG report that, the paper added, would show that in several circumstances the techniques used to interrogate terrorist suspects “appeared to violate the U.N. Convention Against Torture” and did not produce desired results. It is difficult, the report will conclude, “to determine conclusively whether interrogations have provided information critical to interdicting specific imminent attacks.”

    A fury of speculation ensued among a host of reporter-bloggers, who viewed the forthcoming information as the strongest proof to date that proclamations of waterboarding’s usefulness were overblown.

    But there is no need to wait for the report’s declassification. Information from its pages was already made public in the footnotes of the Office of Legal Counsel memos written by Steven Bradbury in 2005 and released by the current administration less than one month ago.

    And the conclusion seems pretty clear: Not only did interrogators, for a period of time, use waterboarding that was deemed by U.S. officials to be more frequent and intense than was medically safe, it did so to apparently limited results.

    As the Huffington Post reported back in mid-April, on a footnote on Page 41 of the Bradbury memo, it is written that “Agency interrogator[s]” had “in some cases” used the waterboard in a manner different than the way “used in the [the Marine Corps’ Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape] SERE training.”

    “The difference was in the manner in which the detainee’s breathing was obstructed,” read the footnote, citing the IG report. “At the SERE school and in the DoJ opinion, the subject’s airflow is disrupted by the firm application of a damp cloth over the air passages; the interrogator applies a small amount of water to the cloth in a controlled manner. By contrast, the Agency interrogator… applied large volumes of water to a cloth that covered the detainee’s mouth and nose.”

    Medical personnel at the detention facility protested the use of the waterboard in that form, stressing that “there was no a priori reason to believe that applying the waterboard with the frequency and intensity with which it was used by the psychologist/interrogators was either efficacious or medically safe.'”

    The important things to take away from the footnote seem clear: for a period of time interrogators were using the waterboard with a “frequency and cumulative use” that had to be toned down. Moreover, they were doing it in a way that was determined to not be “efficacious.”

    The officials tasked with crafting and implementing the interrogation methods adjusted the techniques to fit within the legal parameters set forth by the Bush Department of Justice. But for a period of time, they were operating in excess and outside those bounds.


    Here’s a former FBI interrogator — who interrogated Al Quaeda suspects — saying categorically that torture does not help collect intelligence, but that it does sell impressionable people on the legitimacy of jihad, on the grounds that a regime that tortures deserves to be attacked.

    Former FBI Interrogator Jack Cloonan explains that regular interrogation tactics work well on even the worst terrorists, that there’s no such thing as a “ticking timebomb” scenario, and that waterboarding has done much more harm than good. You can also see interviews with Jack Cloonan in the Oscar award-winning documentary, “Taxi to the Darkside.”
    Link (via Jon Taplin)

    Update: From the comments, TCD004 sez,”Thanks for the link to our video. There’s also a second video available of Cloonan where he describes some of his specific techniques he used for getting people to talk. Cloonan describes the FBI’s approach as “rapport”-building, so agents often find themselves befriending and helping the terror suspects. Don’t miss his story about teaching a terrorist how to swim.


  4. Today Must Read
    By Paul Kiel – December 18, 2007, 9:54AM

    Abu Zubaydah was:

    A) A high-ranking Al Qaeda operative who largely confounded U.S. interrogators with his literary and tactical genius until they submitted him to waterboarding and other forms of torture. After that, he provided key information that likely preempted future attacks.

    B) A low-ranking and mentally ill Al Qaeda operative who provided valuable information under gentle questioning, but whose confessions made under torture were useless. Much of the threat information he provided was “crap.”

    A is the CIA’s version (and the President’s). B is the FBI’s. And in today’s Washington Post, Dan Eggen and Walter Pincus walk through the competing profiles. Zubaydah, remember, was one of the two detainees whose interrogations appeared on the destroyed CIA tapes.

    It’s clear off the bat that the version of events provided by John Kiriakou, the former CIA agent who launched something like a PR blitz last week, is not quite right. In his telling, Zubaydah held out until waterboarded; after only 35 seconds of that, he gave in and “from that day on, he answered every question.”

    By contrast, both CIA and FBI agents tell the Post that he provided valuable information before he was waterboarded. And there wasn’t just one session: “Instead, [other former and current officials] said, harsh tactics used on him at a secret detention facility in Thailand went on for weeks or, depending on the account, even months.”

    And then you get to the real discrepancies.

    A CIA agent says that Zubaydah was a “wily adversary” under questioning who seemed “very selective in what he protected and what he gave up.”

    Retired FBI agent Daniel Coleman, “who led an examination of documents after Abu Zubaida’s capture in early 2002 and worked on the case,” responded that Zubaydah was talking before he was waterboarded, but the CIA agents couldn’t believe that he knew so little.

    Coleman, in fact, emerges as an effective foil to Kiriakou (who, incidentally, participated in the capture of Zubaydah but wasn’t present during the torture) in the piece. Coleman says that Zubaydah was a “safehouse keeper” for Al Qaeda who had suffered a serious head injury years earlier.

    Zubaydah’s mental instability was manifest in his diary, Coleman says, which was “written in three distinct personalities — one younger, one older and one the same age as Abu Zubaida. The book was full of flowery and philosophical meanderings, and made little mention of terrorism or al-Qaeda.”

    Former CIA Director George Tenet, by contrast, writes in his book that Zubaydah used a “sophisticated literary device to express himself” in the diary.

    And you get the impression that Tenet’s reading is typical of the way the CIA agents tended to see Zubaydah:

    Coleman said reports of Abu Zubaida’s statements during his early, traditional interrogation were “consistent with who he was and what he would possibly know.” He and other officials said that materials seized from Abu Zubaida’s house and other locations, including names, telephone numbers and computer laptops, provided crucial information about al-Qaeda and its network.
    But, Coleman and other law enforcement officials said, CIA officials concluded to the contrary that Abu Zubaida was a major player, and they saw any lack of information as evidence that he was resisting interrogation. Much of the threat information provided by Abu Zubaida, Coleman said, “was crap.”

    “There’s an agency mind-set that there was always some sort of golden apple out there, but there just isn’t, especially with guys like him,” Coleman said.

    Note: This tidbit reported by Newsweek last week seems worth noting here:

    [The interrogation of Zubaydah] sparked an internal battle within the U.S. intelligence community after FBI agents angrily protested the aggressive methods that were used. In addition to waterboarding, Zubaydah was subjected to sleep deprivation and bombarded with blaring rock music by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. One agent was so offended he threatened to arrest the CIA interrogators, according to two former government officials directly familiar with the dispute.
    Update: Here’s Ron Suskind, the author of The One Percent Doctrine and who first reported what FBI agents were saying about Zubaydah, talking to Salon last year.


  5. Real Men Don’t Torture

    The experts on extracting information from enemy combatants say that torture doesn’t work, and doesn’t do much except create more enemies.

    Now, a former US Air Force interrogator who has just released a book called How to Break a Terrorist, told Keith Olbermann:

    “It’s extremely ineffective, and it’s counter-productive to what we’re trying to accomplish.”

    “When we torture somebody, it hardens their resolve,” Alexander explained. “The information that you get is unreliable. … And even if you do get reliable information, you’re able to stop a terrorist attack, al Qaeda’s then going to use the fact that we torture people to recruit new members.”

    “How long is it going to take to undo that damage?” Olbermann asked, referring to Alexander’s observation that “I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. ”
    And yesterday, a group of prominent retired generals and admirals met with President-elect Obama’s transition team to demand that he act immediately to put an end to Bush’s torture policies.

    Former Navy Judge Advocate General Admiral John Hutson also said of the Bush torture program:
    “Fundamentally, those kinds of techniques are ineffective. If the goal is to gain actionable intelligence, and it is, and if that’s important, and it is, then we have to use the techniques that are most effective. Torture is the technique of choice of the lazy, stupid and pseudo-tough.”

    So not only does torture not work, and not only does it create more terrorists, it is for the “psuedo-tough”. In other words, real men don’t torture.

    Its Also Illegal

    Congressmen Conyers and Nadler pointed out today in a letter to the Attorney General, the torture-facilitating lawyers were well aware they were breaking laws.

    Indeed, two prominent experts on the law of war – Professors Jordan Paust of the University of Houston and Tony D’Amato of Northwestern University – wrote in the Chicago Sun Times yesterday that the Obama administration has a duty to go after the Bush torture team for war crimes:
    Under the U.S. Constitution, the president is expressly and unavoidably bound to faithfully execute the laws, and the Supreme Court has recognized in many cases since the founding of our government that such laws include U.S. treaty law and customary international law. In fact, every relevant federal judicial opinion over the last 200 years has affirmed that all persons within the executive branch are bound by the laws of war, a point famously recognized by President Lincoln’s attorney general in 1865. Moreover, Obama has assured the American people that he will work to restore the rule of law and integrity in our government, which have been among clear casualties during the Bush Administration’s “war” on terror.

    The 1949 Geneva Civilian Convention, which is considered treaty law of the United States, expressly and unavoidably requires that all parties search for perpetrators of grave breaches of the treaty and bring them “before its own courts” for “effective penal sanctions” or “if it prefers . . . hand such persons over for trial to another High Contracting Party.” The obligation is absolute. The United States must either initiate prosecution or extradite to another state.



  6. Leading Counter-Terrorism Expert And Former High-Level Official Slams War On Terror and Questions 9/11

    Terrell (Terry) E. Arnold was the number 2 counter-terrorism official at the U.S. State Department, and is one of the world’s leading experts on terror.

    Arnold served as the Deputy Director, Office of Counter-Terrorism and Emergency Planning, at the U.S. State Department. He is also the former Chairman of the Department of International Studies at the National War College.

    Arnold has worked as a crisis management consultant for several Federal agencies, including The State Department, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Customs Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He is the author of numerous books on terror*. Arnold is a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean war.

    I spoke with Arnold by phone.

    GW: Your essay It is Vital to Move Beyond 9/11 is insightful and hard-hitting, and I agree with virtually everything you say. I have previously written on many of the topics you touch on, such as false pretenses for war, torture and illegal spying.

    Initially, you write:
    “As an alleged post 9/11 defense, the War on Terrorism is a gigantic fraud.”
    I agree with you completely, and have written several essays arguing that the War on Terror is a hoax (see this, this and this).

    As a leading counter-terrorism expert, I am curious to hear why you believe this.

    Terry Arnold: The military approach doesn’t cover all of the elements of the problem. We need to capture and confine the individuals who are up to doing mischief. That’s a law enforcement issue.

    Also, using only a military approach does nothing to recognize the serious grievances of groups and individuals around the world. Some people harbor deep senses of grievance and are prepared to commit acts of terrorism, or are willing to support terrorism.

    Any approach to terrorism which lacks a mechanism for dealing with “outgroups” will not be successful. Each society has to engage the “outgroups” by itself. No international organization can do that.

    For example, the Kurds want their own state – Kurdistan. Unfortunately, ancient Kurdistan is divided among several surrounding states. The surrounding states have to recognize that they are part of the problem. Dealing with the Kurds is therefore a regional problem.


    GW: Do you think that starting “elective” or “preemptive” wars against states which do not pose an imminent threat to America’s national security decreases or increases the threat of terrorism?

    Terry Arnold: It increases the threat because it injures more people. One of the principal causes of terrorism is injuries to people and families.

    What we’re watching in the Middle East is Israel committing suicide [Arnold explained that, by killing and injuring so many people in Gaza, Israel is destroying its own security, and creating a huge group of people who wish Israel harm. Through the Gaza war, Israel is sewing the seeds of its own destruction]. You will make enemies you will not even know about until it is too late.


    GW: While there are certainly some bad guys in the world who are out to kill Americans and hurt our country, I believe that the whole Al Qaeda threat has been blown out of proportion to justify certain ulterior motives. Do you agree or disagree?

    Terry Arnold: They overstated the danger … did it from a view that justified the “war on terror”. Mostly terrorists the world over are not interested in doing harm to the United States. They are mainly ticked off at the United States to the extent we support people who harm them.

    We can defeat Al Qaeda or any other group by depriving them of their cause and by engaging them [rather than solely using a policy of force].

    GW: What would you tell people working at the CIA, NSA, other intelligence services, military services, special operations, etc. who sincerely believe what they’ve been told . . . that the war on terror is an all-out, all-or-nothing war between the good guys and the bad guys and that we have to go “kick their butt”?

    Terry Arnold: We’re wasting our time and money. And not doing anything useful for our reputation. But we are not really working to solve the real problems that generate terrorism in many countries.


    GW: Do you believe that torture decreases or increases the risk of terrorism?

    Terry Arnold: It increases the risk. There is a school of thought that it is deterrence. But I do not believe that. If people’s grievances multiply, you will have more terrorism. For example, military attacks in Iraq increase terrorism. If you ameliorate people’s grievances, you will decrease terrorism.

    GW: A high-level Special Ops interrogator said that torture by Americans of innocent Iraqis is the main reason that foreign fighters started fighting against Americans in Iraq in the first place. Do you agree?

    Terry Arnold: I agree with that. What went on at Abu Gharaib was on the street before it was in the [American] media.


    GW: You write:
    “Washington leadership [has] brought us no closer than we were on September 12, 2001 to resolving how [9/11] was executed and by what enemy.
    Let’s focus on the how question first.

    What facts or observations make you doubt that the official government story does not fully explain how 9/11 was carried out?

    Terry Arnold: The nature of events in New York. The buildings falling down. I’m not satisfied by the notion that planes hitting buildings constructed as these would have caused them to collapse. The last building to fall was not even attacked.

    GW: Now let’s address the question of who carried out the attacks. You write:
    “They tell us repeatedly that it [9/11] was the work of al Qaida, but they have yet to show us the proofs.”
    As a counter-terrorism expert, what sort of proofs would you expect the government to show if al Qaeda had carried out the 9/11 attacks – at least without the help of any state?

    Terry Arnold: There is a lot of work in getting sixteen people ready to commit voluntary and simultaneous suicide. The case has not been made. The official story is not persuasive because it does not address the real issues of complexity.

    GW: You also say:
    “They told us the official version of what happened that day, but their story is laced with contradictions, and the facts visible on the ground at the time belie much of the official account.”
    What contradictions do you see with the official version of 9/11? And what facts belie the official account?

    Terry Arnold: The sheer mechanics of the event. The chances of two buildings of that height and structure merely collapsing in their own footprint are extremely slim.

    GW: Are you familiar with the term “false flag terror”? Do you believe that governments ever carry out false flag terror?

    Terry Arnold: I know that there is such a thing as false flag terrorism.

    GW: How do you know that?

    Terry Arnold: From history.


    GW: Do you believe that spying on American citizens is necessary to prevent terrorist attacks on U.S. soil?

    Terry Arnold: No, you can’t absolutely prevent terrorism. What you need is an alert law enforcement system which is aware that there are individuals who are unhappy enough to fight back and who are looking for signs that such people may be planning an attack. Small groups are very hard to track effectively, and determined terrorists are not going to be easily spotted.

    You have several options for dealing with terrorism. You can shoot someone if you think they are a danger. You can take steps to frustrate their endeavor. You can use the political process.
    to pose alternative solutions to their problems.

    It is best to look to where the trouble spots are, and engage people in a dialogue. Negotiation doesn’t always succeed. But its the place to start.

    If negotiation doesn’t work, you recognize that, and move on to other choices. [But at least it helps you clearly identify when you’ve reached an impasse].


    GW: How do you think the American media should approach terror issues? Do you think that the press best serves U.S. interests by “closing ranks” with the President, and backing the decisions of the Commander-in-Chief without question?

    Terry Arnold: I don’t think media ever serve their own purposes when they just go along with whatever groups they support. The media should deal with the threats of terror in a detached and rational manner, not just parroting what the government says they are or doing or blessing whatever they do.

    The media has a problem of maintaining its integrity.

    Constitutional Form of Government

    GW: Do you believe that an all-powerful Executive Branch helps keep us safe from terrorists, or that separation of powers, including checks and balances from Congress and the courts can coexist with an effective counter-terrorism program?

    Terry Arnold: An all-powerful executive is an insufficient policy. Government can’t operate without all of those branches of government

    GW: During the Bush administration, people said “we live in a “post-9/11 world”, and therefore the Constitution was a quaint and outdated document. Do you believe that?

    Terry Arnold: That’s a falsehood. The world is not post-9/11 in any strategic, historic sense.

    GW: I believe that we have rapidly been sliding towards martial law in the U.S. Do you agree?

    Terry Arnold: There was some overreaction of the political left of the narrow-minded approaches of the Bush administration. The Bush administration was pushing a narrow, militaristic view. The Bush administration made moves that are discomfiting to a lot of people on the left and the right.

    But it is hard to know what they would have done if [people who thought like that] remained in office for 4 or 8 more years.

    GW: Do you think things are improving under the current administration?

    Terry Arnold: I’m waiting to see. Its too early to tell.

    The remainder of the interview, on continuity of government plans, challenged my beliefs on the subject. Arnold is apparently an expert in this area. I sincerely hope that he is right and that my worries were unfounded.

    GW: Many people believe that the suspension of a Constitutional form of government which began by the declaration of a national emergency on 9/11, and the institution of a government subject to active “continuity of government plans” has continued up through the end of the Bush administration and to the present time.

    Pursuant to continuity of government procedures, Secretary of Defense Gates was sent out of town during Obama’s inauguration. In addition, Obama’s aids said that in his first 100 hours, Obama would sign “bureaucratic proclamations about continuity of government”.

    Do you have any insight or knowledge as to whether or not a continuity of government form of government is still in effect?

    Terry Arnold: I taught on Continuity of Government for a while.

    The rules for continuity of government are clear and well-practiced. Continuity of government is about having a government, even when you lose the one you’ve already got.

    Continuity of government is about protecting the established leadership, or making sure that leadership continues. Continuity of government means that, within the specific framework, there is a designated lawful group to take up the reins of government.

    9/11 properly caused emergency measures to be taken to assure continuity of government. When bombs go off, that is what continuity of government plans are for. In a real continuity of government changeover, Bush and Cheney would have been missing [In other words, a real continuity of government changeover would not have happened while Bush and Cheney were still alive and active]. Other things would have been disrupted as well.

    After I discussed a Washington Post article from 2002 stating that Cheney went into hiding for months after 9/11 because COG plans were implemented, Arnold responded as follows.

    That’s what is supposed to happen in those circumstances. I think the amount of time is an exaggeration.

    In other words, Arnold is saying that COG is all about making sure someone is around to run the government, and hiding some government employees is the way to do that, and nothing sinister.

    I then argued that the fact that DeFazio and the entire Homeland Security Committee of the U.S. Congress asked the White House to disclose COG plans, and the White House refused, showed that something nefarious was being done with respect to COG.

    The White House was overcautious about it. But DeFazio’s public request was a political gesture intended to embarrass leadership . . . that was a mistake. If they had simply picked up the phone and asked, they would have gotten [the appropriate] information.

    The Bush administration leadership tried to usurp power. They went around the FISA court, and did a lot of other things that went too far. But that had nothing to with COG.

    I then stated that many people believed that Bush was not the real leader, but simply a figurehead, and that a shadow government had actually run things during the Bush years.

    It may be true that that Cheney and his neocon colleagues ran things without specific reference to Bush, but that had nothing to do with COG. So long as nobody yanked his coattails, Cheney was able at times to look like the deputy President.

    Postscript: I believe that Arnold is one of the “good guys” – someone who spent many years in government, is trying to do the right thing. There are obviously bad people in government. But there are also many good current and former government people. See this. You can’t always judge a book by its cover, and you never know where you will find allied in the struggle for truth, justice and security.

    * Arnold is the author, co-author, or editor of the following books: Fighting Back: Winning the War Against Terrorism (1986), Beyond the Iran-Contra Crisis : The Shape of U. S. Anti-Terrorism Policy in the Post-Reagan Era (1988), The Violence Formula: Why People Lend Sympathy and Support to Terrorism (1990), Think About Terrorism: The New Warfare (1991), and A World Less Safe: Essays on Conflict in the 21st Century (2005).

    Big hat tip to Alan Miller of Patriots Question 9/11 who discovered Arnold’s essay, summarized Arnold’s biographical information, and brought Arnold to my attention.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009


  7. THURSDAY, APRIL 23, 2009

    Top Interrogation Experts Agree: Torture Doesn’t Work

    Apologists for torture say that it was a “necessarily evil” to stop future terror attacks.

    However, the top interrogation experts all say torture that doesn’t work:

    The military agency which actually provided advice on harsh interrogation techniques for use against terrorism suspects warned the Pentagon in 2002 that those techniques would produce “unreliable information.”
    Army Field Manual 34-52 Chapter 1 says:
    “Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear.”
    A declassified FBI e-mail dated May 10, 2004, regarding interrogation at Guantanamo states “[we] explained to [the Department of Defense], FBI has been successful for many years obtaining confessions via non-confrontational interviewing techniques.” (see also this)
    Brigadier General David R. Irvine, retired Army Reserve strategic intelligence officer who taught prisoner interrogation and military law for 18 years with the Sixth Army Intelligence School, says torture doesn’t work
    The CIA’s own Inspector General wrote that waterboarding was not “efficacious” in producing information
    A former FBI interrogator — who interrogated Al Qaeda suspects — says categorically that torture does not help collect intelligence. On the other hand he says that torture actually turns people into terrorists
    A 30-year veteran of CIA’s operations directorate who rose to the most senior managerial ranks, says:
    “The administration’s claims of having ‘saved thousands of Americans’ can be dismissed out of hand because credible evidence has never been offered — not even an authoritative leak of any major terrorist operation interdicted based on information gathered from these interrogations in the past seven years. … It is irresponsible for any administration not to tell a credible story that would convince critics at home and abroad that this torture has served some useful purpose.

    This is not just because the old hands overwhelmingly believe that torture doesn’t work — it doesn’t — but also because they know that torture creates more terrorists and fosters more acts of terror than it could possibly neutralize.”
    The FBI interrogators who actually interviewed some of the 9/11 suspects say torture didn’t work
    A former US Air Force interrogator said that information obtained from torture is unreliable, and that torture just creates more terrorists
    The number 2 terrorism expert for the State Department says torture doesn’t work, and just creates more terrorists
    A former high-level CIA officer states:
    Many governments that have routinely tortured to obtain information have abandoned the practice when they discovered that other approaches actually worked better for extracting information. Israel prohibited torturing Palestinian terrorist suspects in 1999. Even the German Gestapo stopped torturing French resistance captives when it determined that treating prisoners well actually produced more and better intelligence.
    The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously found that torture doesn’t work.
    A former CIA station chief in Pakistan who served at the agency for three decades doubts that torture saved any lives
    Still don’t believe it? These people also say torture doesn’t produce usable intelligence:
    Former high-level CIA official Bob Baer said “And torture — I just don’t think it really works … you don’t get the truth. What happens when you torture people is, they figure out what you want to hear and they tell you.”
    Rear Admiral (ret.) John Hutson, former Judge Advocate General for the Navy, said “Another objection is that torture doesn’t work. All the literature and experts say that if we really want usable information, we should go exactly the opposite way and try to gain the trust and confidence of the prisoners.”
    Michael Scheuer, formerly a senior CIA official in the Counter-Terrorism Center, said “I personally think that any information gotten through extreme methods of torture would probably be pretty useless because it would be someone telling you what you wanted to hear.”
    Dan Coleman, one of the FBI agents assigned to the 9/11 suspects held at Guantanamo said “Brutalization doesn’t work. We know that. ”
    Many other professional interrogators say the same thing (see this, this, and this).

    In fact, one of the top interrogators in Iraq got information from a high-level Al Qaeda suspect not through torture, but by giving him cookies.

    And top American World War 2 interrogators got more information using chess or Ping-Pong instead of torture than those who use torture are getting today.

    And the head of Britain’s wartime interrogation center in London said:
    “Violence is taboo. Not only does it produce answers to please, but it lowers the standard of information.”
    Indeed, one of the top military interrogators said that torture does not work, that it has resulted in hundreds or thousands of deaths of U.S. soldiers, and that torture by Americans of innocent Iraqis is the main reason that foreign fighters started fighting against Americans in Iraq in the first place (in fact, the experts agree that torture reduces national security).

    And – according to the experts – torture is unnecessary even to prevent “ticking time bombs” from exploding (see this, this and this). Indeed, a top expert says that torture would fail in a real ‘ticking time-bomb’ situation
    And Dick Cheney’s claim that waterboarding Khalid Shaikh Mohammed stopped a terror attack on L.A.? As the Chicago Tribune notes:
    The Bush administration claimed that the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed helped foil a planned 2002 attack on Los Angeles — forgetting that he wasn’t captured until 2003.
    (see this confirmation from the BBC: “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed … was captured in Pakistan in 2003”).

    Indeed, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed himself said:
    During the harshest period of my interrogation I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order to make the ill-treatment stop. I later told the interrogators that their methods were stupid and counterproductive. I’m sure that the false information I was forced to invent in order to make the ill-treatment stop wasted a lot of their time and led to several false red-alerts being placed in the U.S.
    And “the CIA inspector general in 2004 found that there was no conclusive proof that waterboarding or other harsh interrogation techniques helped the Bush administration thwart any ‘specific imminent attacks,’ according to recently declassified Justice Department memos.”

    And when long-time FBI director Mueller was asked whether any attacks on America been disrupted thanks to intelligence obtained through “enhanced techniques”, he responded “I don’t believe that has been the case.”

    And see this.

    And if you believe that the military was pushing for “enhanced interrogation”, think again (and see this).


  8. Torture & the Art of the Gratuitous Lie: Dissecting Rumsfeld & Thiessen’s Wild Whoppers

    By: Jeff Kaye Tuesday May 17, 2011 1:56 pm

    As if we already didn’t know the media is full of lies and stupidity, two new examples have surfaced in recent days, with former administration officials and their media mouthpieces vying for who can pronounce the most incredible lies about the torture policies of the U.S. government. What’s even more amazing is that one ostensibly progressive website and its members have taken at least one of these lies as good coin, a lie so blatant that it only takes a moment’s reflection to realize it’s total BS.

    First, though, precedence should be given to the op-ed by Donald Rumsfeld in last Thursday’s Washington Post. Titled “How WikiLeaks vindicated Bush’s anti-terrorism strategy,” the former Secretary of Defense — who was the Bush administration official who authorized aggressive torture techniques based on SERE torture resistance training for use in DoD interrogations, a fact the Washington Post forgot to mention in its brief bio on Rumsfeld — manages to dredge up every falsehood and canard spewed out by the government to justify the torture they used, from Al Qaeda’s purported threats to unleash a “nuclear hellstorm” if Bin Laden was captured, to the supposed “dirty” bomb plot (dreamed up from “confessions” made under torture by Binyam Mohamed, who had looked at a joke website on nuclear bombs online, and was originally a charge against Jose Padilla, later dropped because it would have been laughed out of even Bush’s courts).

    But the oddest lie, gratuitously thrown in, concerns Rumsfeld’s claims about what the Wikileaks documents allegedly reveal about the purported “suicides” of three Guantanamo prisoners in June 2006. Readers might remember the Scott Horton article in Harper’s Magazine back in January 2010, “The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle.” (Horton’s article produced an upset of sorts at the National Magazine Awards last week, winning the “Reporting” award, beating out Michael Hasting’s Rolling Stone article on Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and Jane Mayer’s New Yorker exposé on the Koch brothers. — Congrats, Scott!)

    While Horton’s article laid out compelling evidence of a cover-up over the possible killings of these three detainees, one of whom had already been cleared for release and return to Saudi Arabia only weeks prior to his death, Rumsfeld claims that the recent Wikileaks release of Guantanamo documents (Detainee Assessment Briefs, or DABs) provide evidence backing the government’s contention the three prisoners committed simultaneous suicide.

    The documents should also disprove some myths that have dogged Guantanamo and the reputations of those who honorably serve there. The classified record, for example, confirms that three detainees who died in 2006 were suicides — not, as some have irresponsibly alleged, victims of brutal interrogations.

    Yet nowhere in the Wikileaks documents, and nowhere in the DABs for Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, or Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani — the three men who died — is there any evidence or claim that their deaths were suicides. Nowhere in these documents is there even a discussion of these suicides, so it is very odd that Rumsfeld, who was sued by the parents of two of the deceased prisoners, should even bring up this story. In Horton’s article, it’s noted that Rumsfeld might have put the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in charge of a secret interrogation black site at Guantanamo, called unofficially Camp No by some Gitmo personnel, where the three men were seen taken by guards on duty that night. Rumsfeld has never spoken out on the “suicides” before. I wonder what he’s trying to preempt.

    For a thorough demolition of Rumsfeld’s lies, readers may wish to peruse former Col. Larry Wilkerson’s declaration under oath “that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld all knew — and didn’t care — that ‘the vast majority of Guantánamo detainees were innocent.’”

    Marc Thiessen’s Theater of the Absurd

    Even more gratuitous, and a lie easily disprovable on its face, is the recent assertion, as reported by the overly-creduous Josh Gerstein at Politico, that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed “figured out” how to outlast his 183 waterboardings by CIA torturers (bold emphasis added).

    “He figured out the limits,” Marc Theissen, a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, said during a panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. KSM “actually mocked his interrogators by holding out his arm and counting off the seconds with his hand. He knew exactly how far we could go and when the terrorists know how far you can go it’s very very hard to break them.”

    Aside from the ridiculous, if not scandalous assertions about the efficacy of torture — a crime considered “jus cogens,” a crime against humanity, and a war crime outlawed by U.S. treaties — the idea of KSM “holding out his arm to count off the seconds with his hand” would be amazing… if it weren’t that his arms and legs were strapped down to a gurney!

    Such a blatant lie should have been caught by Gerstein, or by the naive diarist that posted the story over at Daily Kos, winning a spot on the “recommended” list, even though the diarist and many of the commenters there took Theissen’s mendacious fiction to be fact. It wouldn’t take more than a few minutes on Google to find this description from the 2002 Office of Legal Counsel memo by Jay Bybee and John Yoo (bold emphasis added): “In this procedure, the individual is bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The individual’s feet are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes. Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner.

    Additionally, one could go to the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and read the CIA’s own guidelines from its Office of Medical Services (OMS) (PDF). Except for the manner in which breathing was obstructed in the prisoner (as discussed in the CIA IG report on the torture program – PDF), the CIA’s waterboarding followed the SERE model, in which, OMS noted (bold emphasis added), “the subject is immobilized on his back, and his forehead and eyes covered with a cloth.”

    The idea that frustrated CIA torturers were repeatedly waterboarding KSM as he stubbornly held up his arm and hand to count off the seconds of torture is ridiculously absurd, not least because it was physically impossible. What the CIA medical personnel did have to report about the waterboarding showed that some resistance was, in their opinion, possible: “While SERE trainers believe that trainees are unable to maintain psychological resistance to the waterboard, our experience was otherwise. Some subjects [KSM?] unquestionably can withstand a large number of applications, with no immediately discernable [sic] cumulative impact beyond their strong aversion to the experience.”

    Now, the CIA is no more believable than their mouthpiece, Marc Theissen, but it’s notable that even for the unnamed detainee or detainees who supposedly could “withstand a large number of applications,” the torture produced a “strong aversion.” What the words “withstand” or “aversion” even mean when issuing from the offices of the CIA, I’m not even sure anymore. But it certainly is far different than the picture of an obstreperous KSM that Thiessen provides in order to show that Al Qaeda had learned how to “resist” even a technique as powerful as the waterboard. That this says nothing about the legality or logic of using such torture is an example of how an implicit and dangerous lie is hidden within the blatant outer husk of an absurd lie, i.e., that U.S. torture was not harmful.

    As for waterboarding, the fact that SERE training had largely banned waterboarding as too dangerous for their trainees, and the fact that government lawyers hid that fact in the memos they wrote to approve Bush’s “enhanced interrogation program,” was revealed in a series of exclusive articles I wrote here at Firedoglake last year (see here and here).


  9. How Illegal Interrogations Hurt the U.S.

    Andrea J. Prasow
    Sat May 7, 10:06 pm ET

    NEW YORK – Some are arguing that intel obtained from detainees under torture led us to bin Laden. But Andrea Prasow says that had we stuck to lawful tactics, we might have found him even sooner.
    When I was a defense attorney in the Office of Military Commissions in Guantanamo, President Obama issued an executive order on interrogation policy that ended the CIA’s secret detention program and required that all US interrogators comply with the Army Field Manual. He also ordered the closure of Guantanamo within one year.
    After the order was issued, I taped it to my office door and highlighted the portion that said, “the detention facilities at Guantanamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order.” I truly believed the U.S. had closed the door on abusive detention and interrogation forever.
    This week, following mixed reports that information obtained from detainees held in those secret prisons may have been used in the years-long process to locate Osama bin Laden, torture apologists have seized on this information to call for the reopening of the CIA prisons and reauthorization of “enhanced interrogation techniques”–a euphemism for torture and other ill-treatment. Their primary argument has been simply that torture works.
    Whether torture can produce some truthful information has never been the right question. It can. But even if the victim of torture does provide some accurate information, there is no way to sift the truth from lies produced as the detainee merely tries to get interrogators to stop. There’s no way to know which lead is worth pursuing–risking human life and limited resources – and which should be disregarded. And by resorting to torture, experienced interrogators report, less truthful information can be produced than if traditional, lawful techniques were used. Results also come more slowly because detainees buckle down and resist. Former FBI interrogator Ali Soufan, who interrogated Abu Zubaydah among others, testified before Congress that the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques “are ineffective, slow, and unreliable, and as a result harmful to our efforts to defeat al Qaeda.”
    National security is diminished by the false leads torture can produce, and devastating consequences may ensue. When Ibn Sheikh al Libi was tortured while in CIA custody, he claimed a link to Iraq and weapons of mass destruction that then-Secretary of State Colin Powell used in his speech to the United Nations to justify the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Of course, as we now know, that information was utterly false.
    Each time the U.S. has strayed from core values there have been national security consequences.
    By contrast, when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was arrested for the attempted Christmas bombing of a U.S. airliner bound for Detroit, he provided intelligence to the FBI immediately upon his apprehension, despite being interrogated in a purportedly lawful manner. He continued to do so after he was charged. The Department of Justice has touted the significant intelligence obtained from L’Houssaine Kherchtou, an early member of al Qaeda. He has not only provided valuable information, but has testified in the trials of numerous terrorism suspects, including that of Ahmed Ghailani, a Tanzanian convicted of conspiracy in U.S. federal court in November 2010 and now serving life in prison for his role in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa. Many others have provided and continue to provide information to U.S. authorities used in preventing terrorist attacks and prosecuting terrorism suspects, without the use of coercive interrogation techniques.
    While the killing of Osama bin Laden may help protect the U.S. from terrorism, as much or more credit should go to the Obama administration’s decision to shut down the Bush-era CIA interrogation program. Under this secret program, the details of which are still not fully disclosed, the U.S. abandoned the rule of law and embraced a system of detention and interrogation that was not only illegal and immoral, but severely damaged U.S. national security.
    In fact, each time the U.S. has strayed from core values there have been national security consequences. Senior military officials report that foreign fighters joined the war in Iraq following the release of the Abu Ghraib abuse photos, and the continued existence of Guantanamo has been used as a recruiting tool for al Qaeda. Earlier this year when a detainee died at Guantanamo of apparently natural causes, the fact that it happened at Guantanamo made it a major focal point for anti-U.S. and militant propaganda. The Taliban issued a statement condemning the U.S. for violating international law and thousands attended his funeral in Afghanistan.
    We will never know how much information the U.S. lost because it failed to use time-tested, effective, and humane methods of interrogation. We will never know how many years earlier bin Laden could have been captured and how many lives spared if, instead of whisking them off to a prison outside the law, the U.S. had instead charged Mohammed and al Libi in federal courts and treated them properly and in accordance with due process. We do know that bin Laden’s death does not end the threat terrorists pose to the U.S. and other nations. But we also know that the best way to guard against future attack is by rejecting the use of torture outright and staying faithful to the rule of law and basic tenets of decency. This is true not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it works.

    Andrea J. Prasow is senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch.


  10. The Psychopath As An Interrogation Subject
    Stan Walters / PATC

    One of if not the most challenging interviews or interrogations to conduct are that of the psychopath. Estimated by some experts to comprise about 7% of the world’s population, psychopaths make up approximately 55% of the U.S. prison population and are credited with committing roughly 80% of the violent crimes. The interview or interrogation of the psychopaths confirms that a standard or routine approach that is used with all other subjects will not be successful. As a personality disorder, a psychopath is marked by characteristics that include a lack of empathy for their victims, a total lack of personal insight, chronic lying, no remorse and a total lack of impulse control.

    The traditional efforts of an interrogator are to attempt to highlight or emphasize within the subject a certain level of awareness and acceptance of responsibility for their behaviors. The psychopath has never and will never attain such level of awareness. These subjects’ behaviors are dictated solely in response to a narcissistic need for ego satisfaction. Psychopaths are incapable of identifying with or appreciating the level of physical, emotional or mental pain that they cause their victims, the victim’s families or their own families. To attempt to get the psychopath to recognize the feelings, fear, trauma or pain they have brought upon their multiple victims is literally a waste of both the interviewer’s and subject’s time.

    Once a psychopath is stimulated by the awareness of his or her selfish wants and needs, there is very little that will stop them from driving toward their own self-serving goals. For anyone to believe that psychopaths will follow or adhere to any standards of appropriate social behavior or conduct is naïve at best. These subject’s perceive the world and its’ occupants as existing only for the purpose of serving their own needs that are not to be denied. It is for this very reason that psychopaths will rarely if ever respond to any punishment or threat of punishment, treatment or therapy for their inappropriate behavior. This is also evident in the broad range of and often-large number of anti-social behaviors in which the psychopath will engage.

    Psychopaths possess a very high threshold of cognitive and emotional stimulation that requires behavioral extremes to maintain any form of satisfactory or stimulating life style. Coupled with a disregard for socially acceptable conduct, psychopaths are well known for engaging high risk, self-destructive behaviors that are also very devastating to those around them. Blatant sexually deviant behaviors and promiscuity, major acts of sado-masochistic behavior, abandonment of family, schoolwork and jobs are not uncommon as are multiple acts of fraud, deceit, and blatant abuse and manipulation of others.

    The interview of the psychopath is best accomplished when the interviewer bares in mind that the subject will not be swayed by pleas or appeals based on sympathy, remorse, regret or social obligation – as the psychopath is incapable of comprehending these concepts. The interview should be based on a non-emotional format with the interviewer presenting the appearance that he or she already possesses all the known facts of the case.

    The dialogue with the psychopath should center on the following:

    1. facts and specific examples of evidence and information;

    2. that there are those who may in fact be impressed with the subject’s genuine individuality and independence;

    3. that others around them are in fact weak and lack the fortitude to experience the fulfillment of life.

    Threats of punishment are of no use.

    One interesting point however is that it would appear that the more these subjects are allowed to talk and even pontificate or sound off, the stronger and more resistant they become. It will be imperative that the interviewer maintain focus and keep the subject on topic during the interview. Admission or confessions occur because the subject delights in his or her behavior, the evidence of how everyone is shocked yet awed by their audacity and, ultimately, that they feel in some way the admission or confession serves some other form of their ego-fulfilling needs.

    About the Author

    Stan B. Walters writes, teaches & does keynote speeches internationally on deception, interview & interrogation. He is regularly called on by the media as an expert to comment on high profile cases.


  11. Torture apologists stain triumph over bin Laden

    By Charles Fried and Gregory Fried, Published: May 6

    The killing of Osama bin Laden after a fierce firefight in his Abbottabad compound is a great victory for our military and intelligence forces and for our civilian leadership. But the handwringing about whether it looked as though bin Laden was reaching for a gun or suicide belt, as if this were some who-is-the fastest-gun-in-the-West movie, and about whether we violated Pakistani sovereignty by going in after him is risible.

    As the code of war that Abraham Lincoln promulgated in 1863 — the first anywhere — made clear: “military necessity admits of all direct destruction of life or limb of armed enemies . . . it allows of the capturing of . . . every enemy of importance to the hostile government.” Yet Lincoln’s code also said that “military necessity does not admit of cruelty . . . nor of torture.”

    In this all civilized men and women agree: Torture is condemned by American law, international law and by the pronouncements of the Roman Catholic Church. In 2005 it was condemned by Congress at the instance of, among others, Sen. John McCain. Now, the same apologists who applauded President George W. Bush’s authorization of torture — and make no mistake, waterboarding is torture — are working to stain this great triumph. They argue that but for their barbaric treatment of detainees through 2003, we would never have found our man.

    The claim is indecent most immediately because there is no way of knowing whether it is true, and any attempt to prove or disprove it must reveal intelligence that our security requires remain secret. But even if true, it does not make the point. However dangerous he may have been, Osama bin Laden was not the ticking bomb requiring immediate defusing, so familiar now from television dramas. And that’s just the point about making exceptions to moral imperatives that should remain exceptionless — like Lincoln’s absolute condemnation of torture, or the condemnation of sexual degradation as a weapon of war, or the judicial killing of an innocent person to keep the peace. These things must never be done. To put such moral boundaries on the same level as legal niceties about sovereignty or the need for a warrant reveals a profoundly flawed sense of proportion.

    Those who defend the use of torture and who are using bin Laden’s killing to prove their point prove just the opposite. However vile, bin Laden was not the armed-nuclear-bomb-hidden-in-downtown-L.A. scenario of Jack Bauer’s “24.” The point is that once you are willing to cross the line of absolutely wrong, you must answer impossible questions: How many people must be endangered; how certain must we be of the danger; how sure must we be that this is the person who can lead us to the bomb and that the torture will work on him? What if the terrorist who planted the bomb is immune to torture or beyond our reach, but his young child is not? May we torture the child if that will make the terrorist talk? And how certain must we be that that will work?

    One Bush torture apologist, like the 13th chime of the clock, has famously argued that even the torture of the child would be allowed. But, of course, the lack of a stopping place in justifying this evil shows how readily the resort to deliberate brutality metastasizes so that it can be used to justify torture to save just one person, or even if there is a chance of saving one person, or even if it involves random cruelty to soften up the next person we interrogate, as in the case of Abu Ghraib. To paraphrase Justice Robert Jackson, such an argument either has no beginning or it has no end.

    As Lincoln understood, the main damage torture inflicts is on the torturer. We all suffer pain and we all must die. But while we live we must strive to be worthy of the humanity that is supposed to be the goal of our battles. Lincoln’s code proclaims: “Men who take up arms against one another in public war do not cease on this account to be moral beings, responsible to one another and to God.” Francis Lieber, who drafted the code at Lincoln’s direction, elaborated: “The late proclamation of General Halleck, declaring himself ready for retaliation . . . distinctly tells his officers and soldiers not to retaliate cruelly. . . . Can we roast Indians, though they have roasted one of our own? Simple infliction of death is not considered cruelty.”

    The death of Osama bin Laden may ultimately prove to be a footnote to al-Qaeda’s real moment of defeat. The same Muslim men and women bin Laden sought to recruit to jihad in the name of his Pol Pot-like caliphate are now revolting for a chance to lead decent lives in democratic nations governed by the same values that we proclaim guide us. Their goal is also our best hope for a lasting end to this war on terror. It defiles their sacrifice, as well as that of our own troops, if we who have long championed democracy embrace the brutal values of our enemies, even in the name of self-defense. We must deny bin Laden this posthumous victory.

    Charles Fried, who teaches at Harvard Law School, and Gregory Fried, who is chairman of the philosophy department at Suffolk University, are the authors of “Because It Is Wrong: Torture, Privacy and Presidential Power in the Age of Terror.”


  12. Bin Laden’s death and the debate over torture

    By John McCain, Published: May 12

    Osama bin Laden’s welcome death has ignited debate over whether the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques used on enemy prisoners were instrumental in locating bin Laden, and whether they are a justifiable means for gathering intelligence.

    Much of this debate is a definitional one: whether any or all of these methods constitute torture. I believe some of them do, especially waterboarding, which is a mock execution and thus an exquisite form of torture. As such, they are prohibited by American laws and values, and I oppose them.

    I know those who approved and employed these practices were dedicated to protecting Americans. I know they were determined to keep faith with the victims of terrorism and to prove to our enemies that the United States would pursue justice relentlessly no matter how long it took.

    I don’t believe anyone should be prosecuted for having used these techniques, and I agree that the administration should state definitively that they won’t be. I am one of the authors of the Military Commissions Act, and we wrote into the legislation that no one who used or approved the use of these interrogation techniques before its enactment should be prosecuted. I don’t think it is helpful or wise to revisit that policy.

    But this must be an informed debate. Former attorney general Michael Mukasey recently claimed that “the intelligence that led to bin Laden . . . began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. He loosed a torrent of information — including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden.” That is false.

    I asked CIA Director Leon Panetta for the facts, and he told me the following: The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. The first mention of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — the nickname of the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately led us to bin Laden — as well as a description of him as an important member of al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country, who we believe was not tortured. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al-Qaeda.

    In fact, the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on Khalid Sheik Mohammed produced false and misleading information. He specifically told his interrogators that Abu Ahmed had moved to Peshawar, got married and ceased his role as an al-Qaeda facilitator — none of which was true. According to the staff of the Senate intelligence committee, the best intelligence gained from a CIA detainee — information describing Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti’s real role in al-Qaeda and his true relationship to bin Laden — was obtained through standard, noncoercive means.

    I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners sometimes produces good intelligence but often produces bad intelligence because under torture a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear — true or false — if he believes it will relieve his suffering. Often, information provided to stop the torture is deliberately misleading.

    Mistreatment of enemy prisoners endangers our own troops, who might someday be held captive. While some enemies, and al-Qaeda surely, will never be bound by the principle of reciprocity, we should have concern for those Americans captured by more conventional enemies, if not in this war then in the next.

    Though it took a decade to find bin Laden, there is one consolation for his long evasion of justice: He lived long enough to witness what some are calling the Arab Spring, the complete repudiation of his violent ideology.

    As we debate how the United States can best influence the course of the Arab Spring, can’t we all agree that the most obvious thing we can do is stand as an example of a nation that holds an individual’s human rights as superior to the will of the majority or the wishes of government? Individuals might forfeit their life as punishment for breaking laws, but even then, as recognized in our Constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, they are still entitled to respect for their basic human dignity, even if they have denied that respect to others.

    All of these arguments have the force of right, but they are beside the most important point. Ultimately, this is more than a utilitarian debate. This is a moral debate. It is about who we are.

    I don’t mourn the loss of any terrorist’s life. What I do mourn is what we lose when by official policy or official neglect we confuse or encourage those who fight this war for us to forget that best sense of ourselves. Through the violence, chaos and heartache of war, through deprivation and cruelty and loss, we are always Americans, and different, stronger and better than those who would destroy us.

    The writer is a Republican senator from Arizona.


  13. Our view: If torture led to bin Laden, do ends justify the means?
    Posted 05/09/2011 08:14:40 PM

    Amid the feel-good, Hollywood-worthy story of how the U.S. tracked and killed the world’s most-wanted terrorist is one discordant note: Some of the information that led to Osama bin Laden might have come from torture.

    That inconvenient truth promptly re-ignited arguments over U.S. interrogation practices.

    OPPOSING VIEW: Tough interrogations worked, writes John Yoo
    Barely had bin Laden’s body reached the bottom of the sea when former Bush administration figures, including Vice President Cheney and Justice Department lawyer John Yoo, who wrote a legal justification for use of “enhanced interrogation,” said the bin Laden operation is vindication.
    On the other side, opponents of torture responded by trying to downplay the importance of those techniques to the bin Laden raid. They continued to argue that torture doesn’t work and is never justified.

    If only the answers were so simple or morally unambiguous. They aren’t.
    It’s clear that torture played some role in piecing together the chain of information that led to bin Laden’s lair in Pakistan. CIA Director Leon Panetta acknowledged as much. But he went on to muddy the waters, leaving unclear whether the information obtained by torture was indispensableor just a small factor in a sea of data investigators were dissecting.

    The storyline in most news accounts, based on anonymous government sources, suggests that it was fundamental. The chain of events goes like this: An al-Qaeda suspect, Hassan Ghul, who was subjected to unspecified harsh interrogation techniques at a secret CIA “black site” in Poland, provided interrogators with a clue in 2004: the nickname of a bin Laden courier. Two other high-value prisoners — 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his successor as operations chief, Abu Faraj al-Libi — gave their interrogators false information about the courier after they were repeatedly waterboarded. CIA analysts concluded that their evasiveness meant the courier must have been someone important enough to protect, elevating the value of Ghul’s information and making it the first step on the long road to Abbottabad.

    That storyline, if accurate, greatly strengthens the case of advocates of harsh interrogation. It suggests that without torture, bin Laden might still be free. But that still wouldn’t end the debate.

    Absent official confirmation, it’s impossible to know how critical any single bit of information, including Ghul’s, was to tracking bin Laden. And even with an official pronouncement, it will always be unknowable whether the information could have been obtained in other ways.

    The ends-justify-the-means reasoning also is inherently troubling. To use bin Laden’s capture as justification for all torture is to condone failed torture, potentially of innocent suspects. This invites some very unpleasant consequences.

    Since the debate over torture began after 9/11, military leaders and no less an authority than Sen. John McCain, who was tortured during the Vietnam War, have argued that such tactics put American POWs at risk, that they commonly produce unreliable information, and that they undercut the president’s ability to condemn torture elsewhere.
    It would be helpful if the government drew a clearer picture of the role torture played in the bin Laden hunt. But regardless, the bottom line is that torture should never be routine, because routine torture would assure routine abuse. In that context, President Obama was right to ban such extreme tactics. If he or a future president faces a “ticking bomb” scenario or some other vital, specific need, he can reverse that decision and face the judgment of the American public.

    It’s a safe bet that most people would accept torture if it were the only option for catching the most hunted villain in U.S. history. Indiscriminate use of torture is another matter entirely.


  14. MONDAY, MAY 16, 2011

    Supreme Court Denies Cert Mohamed v. Jeppesen in a Blow to Torture Accountability

    The Supreme Court today denied certiorari in Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that kicked out of court a lawsuit claiming that the victim had been tortured. The Ninth Circuit en banc panel voted 6-5 to dismiss the case, upholding an assertion of the state secrets privilege, first raised by the Bush Administration and now by the Obama Administration, that the need to protect state secrets trumps the ability of former prisoners to sue over alleged torture.

    The ruling is another blow to accountability for torture that took place under the Bush Administration. According to the New York Times, “The lawsuit was brought in 2007 against a Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen Dataplan, that the plaintiffs said had arranged the rendition flights that took them to Morocco, Egypt and Afghanistan to be tortured. One of the men, Binyam Mohamed, had his bones broken in Morocco, where security agents also cut his skin with a
    scalpel and poured a stinging liquid into his wounds.”

    The 9th Circuit opinion, which will remain in effect now that the Supreme Court has denied cert, “reluctantly” concluded that state secrets trump the “fundamental principles of our liberty, including justice, transparency, and accountability” in this case. Notably, the 9th Circuit’s decision held that the claims could not proceed “even assuming plaintiffs could establish their case solely through nonprivileged evidence.”

    Alliance for Justice joined a letter signed by 20 other groups calling on the Department of Justice to implement a policy, as it promised, to ensure that there is transparency and accountability in cases like this where credible assertions of government wrongdoing have been raised. The Attorney General announced a policy in 2009 whereby DOJ would make referrals to the inspectors general of the CIA, DOJ, Defense Department, or other appropriate agency, when a civil complaint dismissed on state secrets grounds raised credible allegations of wrongdoing. When the judicial system fails to provide accountability and transparency by allowing cases to be dismissed on state secrets grounds, requiring an inspector general to investigate the allegations would provide some modicum of accountability.

    Posted by Alliance for Justice at 4:35 PM


  15. Tortured Logic: The United States didn’t need to waterboard anyone to get Osama bin Laden.
    BY MATTHEW ALEXANDER | MAY 4, 2011 I Foreign Policy

    Did torture work? This is the question everyone is asking after Osama bin Laden’s death and the revelation that his fate was sealed by the identification of a courier whose nom de guerre emerged from the interrogation of top al Qaeda operatives who were known to have been subjected to waterboarding and similar techniques. “Did brutal interrogations produce the intelligence that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden?” a May 3 New York Times story asked.

    This is hardly the first time we’ve had this debate. In 2006, my team of interrogators in Iraq located local al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi by identifying and following one of his spiritual advisors, Abu Abd al-Rahman. Eric Maddox, a U.S. Army interrogator, found Saddam Hussein by similar means, identifying his former bodyguards. It’s these little pieces of information that form the mosaic that gradually leads to a breakthrough. But how best to get those little pieces?

    Current and former U.S. officials and their supporters have been quick to argue that “enhanced interrogation techniques” and waterboarding led to the identification of the courier’s alias, which started U.S. intelligence down the road to bin Laden. The day after the al Qaeda leader’s death was announced, U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the House Homeland Security Committee chair, told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly that “For those who say that waterboarding doesn’t work, who say it should be stopped and never used again, we got vital information [from waterboarding] that directly led us to bin Laden.” John Yoo, the former U.S. Justice Department official who drafted the George W. Bush administration’s legal rationales for officially sanctioned torture, repeated the claim and praised “Bush’s interrogation and warrantless surveillance programs that produced this week’s actionable intelligence.” The torture bandwagon has started to kick into high gear. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

    In fact, the information about the existence of a courier working for bin Laden was provided by several detainees, not just waterboarded al Qaeda operatives Kalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi — we had one detainee in Iraq who provided information about a courier in 2006. The key pieces of information, however, were the courier’s real name and location. His family name was first uncovered by CIA assets in Pakistan through other sources. The NSA subsequently figured out his full real name and location from an intercepted phone call. Waterboarding had nothing to do with it.

    Moreover, common sense dictates that all high-ranking leaders have couriers — and their nicknames do little to lead us to them. This is because many members of al Qaeda change names or take on a nom de guerre after joining for both operational security and cultural reasons. The names are often historically relevant figures in the history of Islam, like the Prophet Mohamed’s first follower, Abu Bakr. Think of it as the equivalent of a boxer taking on a nickname like “The Bruiser.”

    Understanding these cultural nuances is just one critical skill interrogators must have to be effective. The other is an understanding of the social science behind interrogations, which tells us that torture has an extremely negative effect on memory. An interrogator needs timely and accurate intelligence information, not just made-up babble.

    What torture has proven is exactly what experienced interrogators have said all along: First, when tortured, detainees will give only the minimum amount of information necessary to stop the pain. No interrogator should ever be hoping to extract the least amount of information. Second, under coercion, detainees give misleading information that wastes time and resources — a false nickname, for example. Finally, it’s impossible to know what information the detainee would have disclosed under non-coercive interrogations.

    But to understand the question “Does torture work?” one must also define “work.” If we include all the long-term negative consequences of torture, that answer becomes very clear. Those consequences include the fact that torture handed al Qaeda its No. 1 recruiting tool, a fact confirmed by the U.S. Department of Defense’s interrogators in Iraq who questioned foreign fighters about why they had come there to fight. (I have first-hand knowledge of this information because I oversaw many of these interrogations and was briefed on the aggregate results.) In addition, future detainees will be unwilling to cooperate from the onset of an interrogation because they view all Americans as torturers. I heard this repeatedly in Iraq, where some detainees accused us of being the same as the guards at Abu Ghraib.

    The more you think about, the less sense torture makes. U.S. allies will become unwilling to conduct joint operations if they are concerned about how detainees will be treated in U.S. custody (an argument made by the 9/11 Commission, among others). And future enemies will use our actions as justification to torture American captives. Torture also lowers our ethical standards to those of our enemies, an ugly shift that spreads like a virus throughout the Armed Services; witness the abuses of Abu Ghraib or the recent murders of civilians in Afghanistan.

    Most importantly, we should be talking about the morality of torture, not its efficacy. When the U.S. infantry becomes bogged down in a tough battle, they don’t turn to chemical weapons even though they are extremely effective. The reason they don’t is because such weapons are illegal and immoral.

    During the Revolutionary War, one top general made the point that torture was inconsistent with the fundamental beliefs of our founding fathers. “Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to insure any [prisoner] … I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require,” he wrote to his troops in the Northern Expeditionary Force in the first year of the war. The general in question was George Washington. There’s a reason we pledge to believe in “liberty and justice for all” and not “liberty and security for all”: It’s because we place our values and principles higher than we place our security. When we cease to do so, we forfeit our right to be called Americans.

    We cannot become our enemy in trying to defeat him. American interrogators safely guided us through World War II without the use of torture, fighting an enemy and interrogating prisoners every bit as brutal and dedicated as the members of al Qaeda. Our interrogators continue to prove time and time again that they are smart enough to outwit al Qaeda’s best and brightest. No one should ever doubt that we have the mental and ethical fortitude to win this war — and to do it without lowering ourselves to the level of our foes.


  16. The Torture Apologists

    4 May 2011(NYT)
    The killing of Osama bin Laden provoked a host of reactions from Americans: celebration, triumph, relief, closure and renewed grief. One reaction, however, was both cynical and disturbing: crowing by the apologists and practitioners of torture that Bin Laden’s death vindicated their immoral and illegal behavior after the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Jose Rodriguez Jr. was the leader of counterterrorism for the C.I.A. from 2002-2005 when Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other Al Qaeda leaders were captured. He told Time magazine that the recent events show that President Obama should not have banned so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. (Mr. Rodriguez, you may remember, ordered the destruction of interrogation videos.)

    John Yoo, the former Bush Justice Department lawyer who twisted the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions into an unrecognizable mess to excuse torture, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that the killing of Bin Laden proved that waterboarding and other abuses were proper. Donald Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary, said at first that no coerced evidence played a role in tracking down Bin Laden, but by Tuesday he was reciting the talking points about the virtues of prisoner abuse.

    There is no final answer to whether any of the prisoners tortured in President George W. Bush’s illegal camps gave up information that eventually proved useful in finding Bin Laden. A detailed account in The Times on Wednesday by Scott Shane and Charlie Savage concluded that torture “played a small role at most” in the years and years of painstaking intelligence and detective work that led a Navy Seals team to Bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan.

    That squares with the frequent testimony over the past decade from many other interrogators and officials. They have said repeatedly, and said again this week, that the best information came from prisoners who were not tortured. The Times article said Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times, fed false information to his captors during torture.

    Even if it were true that some tidbit was blurted out by a prisoner while being tormented by C.I.A. interrogators, that does not remotely justify Mr. Bush’s decision to violate the law and any acceptable moral standard.

    This was not the “ticking time bomb” scenario that Bush-era officials often invoked to rationalize abusive interrogations. If, as Representative Peter King, the Long Island Republican, said, information from abused prisoners “directly led” to the redoubt, why didn’t the Bush administration follow that trail years ago?

    There are many arguments against torture. It is immoral and illegal and counterproductive. The Bush administration’s abuses — and ends justify the means arguments — did huge damage to this country’s standing and gave its enemies succor and comfort. If that isn’t enough, there is also the pragmatic argument that most experienced interrogators think that the same information, or better, can be obtained through legal and humane means.

    No matter what Mr. Yoo and friends may claim, the real lesson of the Bin Laden operation is that it demonstrated what can be done with focused intelligence work and persistence.

    The battered intelligence community should now be basking in the glory of a successful operation. It should not be dragged back into the muck and murk by political figures whose sole agenda seems to be to rationalize actions that cost this country dearly — in our inability to hold credible trials for very bad men and in the continued damage to our reputation.


  17. Did Waterboarding Help Catch Bin Laden? – CNN
    May 4, 2011

    CNN’s Gloria Borger discusses the role enhanced interrogation techniques played in the capture and killing of bin Laden.




  18. Analysis: Dick Cheney’s claims reopen ‘waterboarding’ debate

    Story Highlights
    Cheney says reports support claim that enhanced interrogation produced critical info
    Dossiers declassified this week do not specify techniques used to elicit intelligence
    Reports surface in debate over whether techniques helped prevent terrorist attacks
    Former VP says enhanced interrogations contributed to successful al Qaeda arrests

    From Dugald McConnell

    WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday said his claim that enhanced interrogation techniques — including waterboarding — produced critical post-9/11 information was supported by a pair of intelligence reports released last week.

    “The enhanced interrogation techniques were absolutely essential in saving thousands of American lives,” he told “Fox News Sunday.”

    However, the two dossiers that were declassified at Cheney’s request do not disclose what kinds of techniques were used to elicit the intelligence. The only method occasionally cited by the reports is a routine one — using information from one detainee to gain details from another.

    The two reports surfaced as the latest ammunition in the debate over whether the use of controversial interrogation techniques like stress positions, wall slamming, and waterboarding — considered torture by critics — helped prevent terrorist attacks.

    Cheney said the reports prove that two top al Qaeda suspects, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubayda, “were uncooperative at first.”

    But “the application of enhanced interrogation techniques, specifically waterboarding — especially in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — is what really persuaded him he needed to cooperate,” Cheney said

    A U.S. government official with knowledge of the interrogation program told CNN that while the chronology is not spelled out in the two reports, Mohammed’s information became “more voluminous and accurate” after he was exposed to waterboarding 183 times.

    The official declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on the subject.

    Zubaydah also talked more after being subjected to waterboarding, according to a third document — a 2004 CIA inspector general’s report that was released last week.

    “It is not possible to say definitively that the waterboard is the reason for Abu Zubaydah’s increased production,” says the report, “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.”

    It also says that before his waterboarding, Mohammed provided little information.

    But the report is cautious on whether the enhanced interrogation techniques, or EITs, approved by the Bush administration helped the interrogation program get results.

    “There is no doubt the program has been effective,” the 2004 report says. “Measuring the effect of the EITs, however, is a more subjective process and not without some concern.”

    The CIA report also does not say whether the techniques — which have since been banned — were the only way to get the detainees to talk.

    “The effectiveness of particular interrogation techniques in eliciting information that might not otherwise have been obtained cannot be so easily measured,” it says.

    And one of Zubydah’s interrogators, former FBI special agent Ali Soufan, told a Senate hearing in May that waterboarding him was unnecessary. Any useful information interrogators got from him either was or could have been produced without “enhanced” techniques, he said.

    Soufan said Zubaydah stopped talking after CIA contractors took over and began using harsh techniques, which he testified were “ineffective, slow and unreliable, and harmful to our efforts to defeat al Qaeda.”

    Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding 83 times in August 2002, according to Bush administration documents released in April; Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003, according to the documents.

    U.S. authorities prosecuted Japanese officers who used waterboarding against American prisoners in World War II. But Bush administration lawyers argued the tactic did not violate U.S. laws against torture as long as interrogators had no intent to cause “severe pain.”

    Cheney said in May that the interrogations were used only on “hardened terrorists” after other efforts failed — and “in a few cases, that information could be gained only through tough interrogations.”

    And there was also time pressure, the U.S. official with knowledge of the interrogation program told CNN.

    “Time was deemed to be of essence. There was fear of a pending attack” in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

    “Could you have gotten the information some other way? We’ll never know,” said Peter Bergen, CNN terrorism analyst, who doubts the information divulged after waterboarding saved American lives.

    “Did it really avert imminent terrorist attacks, according to these documents? No,” he said. “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed certainly revealed a lot of information after being waterboarded … but it turns out these plots were just talk.”

    But Cheney said enhanced interrogations contributed to most of the successful arrests of al Qaeda members.

    “I think they were directly responsible for the fact that for eight years we had no further mass casualty attacks against the United States,” he said Sunday.

    CNN’s Pam Benson and Brian Todd contributed to this report.


  19. The Interrogator, Part I – CBS 60 Minutes



    The Interrogator, Part II – CBS 60 Minutes



    (CBS News) On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, “60 Minutes” brings you the story of someone who has never shown his face on television before – and for good reason. Ali Soufan was one of the FBI’s secret weapons in its fight against al Qaeda. A Lebanese-American, fluent in Arabic, he interrogated al Qaeda prisoners at secret locations all over the world. Soufan was known for his ability to outwit terrorists and he’s telling his story in a new book called “The Black Banners.” Parts of the book have been blacked out because the CIA says they contain classified information.
    On the day of the September 11 attacks, Ali Soufan was thousands of miles away from Ground Zero, but in a unique position to help find those responsible.

    “What was your first thought?” correspondent Lara Logan asked.

    “It was al Qaeda,” Soufan replied. “I had no doubt in my mind.”

    On 9/11, FBI agent Ali Soufan was in Yemen, where his New York-based team had been investigating the deadly al Qaeda attack a year earlier on the USS Cole. Soufan and his team were preparing to fly back to New York when FBI headquarters ordered him and his partner to stay put.

    Soufan told Logan that he was desperate to return to New York and wanted to investigate the Cole at another time. He wondered whether he and his team had missed some hint of the 9/11 plot as they investigated the earlier attack on the Cole, but Soufan quickly learned that his mission in Yemen now took on a new urgency.

    There were already a number of al Qaeda operatives in custody in Yemen and, for the FBI, Soufan was the right man to question them about 9/11. He had been investigating al Qaeda for four years and knew a lot about its operatives and its ideology. He was fluent in Arabic, a Muslim himself and, at 30-years-old, he was starting to make a name for himself as one of the bureau’s best interrogators of Islamic extremists.

    When asked what makes a good interviewer or interrogator, Soufan replied, “Knowledge and empathy.”

    “You need to connect with people on a human level – regardless,” he added.

    “Is it hard to have empathy with someone who’s just killed, or helped to kill, thousands of Americans?” Logan asked.

    “Oh, absolutely,” Soufan said, as he recounted an experience in which a man threatened to slaughter Soufan like a sheep.

    “What did you say to him?” Logan asked.

    “I kind of, like, politely put him in his place.” Soufan said.

    “We had a fruit next to us and there’s a knife to cut the fruit. I gave him the knife,” Soufan continued. “I said, ‘Go ahead and do it now.’ He looked at me. I said, ‘I thought so. So sit down and shut your mouth and let’s talk.'”

    The tactic was effective because it was unexpected from an American interrogator, Soufan explained. He said al Qaeda detainees don’t expect an American to offer them tea or coffee and to sit down, talk and try to develop a rapport.

    “That scares them. That shakes them because they were trained that we are so evil and we torture and we kill. And that is the reason of the rage against us,” Soufan said. “So they tell you a lot of stuff to piss you off and then they can say, ‘See? He is evil.’ So in my case, I try to deprive them from that.”

    “Do you think the fact that you were a Muslim gave you an advantage in some cases and in some ways?” Logan asked.

    “No,” Soufan said. “But the fact that maybe I understood the culture, the fact that I genuinely, as a person, have an interest in these kind of things, that probably helped me.”

    Andy Court and Michael Radutzky are the producers


  20. The New America Foundation’s National Security Studies Program hosted an event on August 8 with former CIA clandestine officer Glenn Carle. Mr. Carle spoke about his new book, The Interrogator: An Education, in which he discusses his experiences as head of the interrogation of a “high-value” terrorism detainee in two C.I.A. “black sites” abroad, and the lessons he learned about terrorism and the failings of the Global War on Terror. The event was moderated by Patrick Doherty, deputy director of the National Security Studies Program.

    Following an introduction, Mr. Carle explained the nature of U.S. interrogation practices after 9/11, and detailed the series of cirumstances that led him to question the government’s “do whatever it takes” policies. Being trained to always adhere to the limits set in place by tenents like Executive Order 12333 and the Geneva Convention, Mr. Carle struggled to accept the new “enhanced interrogation techniques” as being either useful or morally acceptable. As his interrogation of the detainee progressed, he became convinced that the man was innocent and had no substantial connection to any terrorist organization. Although he tried to communicate his convictions, the C.I.A.’s bureaucratic momentum and determination to avoid any further terrorist attacks prevented him from being heard.

    Mr. Carle believes that the methods currently employed as U.S. counter-terrorism policy were once unthinkable and that terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda are not the existential threats they have been made out to be. He ended his remarks by explaining that he wrote the book because the truth is the only way people will understand how to avoid the mistakes made in the War on Terror.

    A question-and-answer period followed, in which Mr. Carle discussed the mostly positive reactions to his book despite its controversial subject, what (if anything) should be done to those who implemented the policies of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” and the need for the full truth to be told.


  21. Can Mind Control Be Torture? Watch and Read

    CIA Mind Control Techniques MK-ULTRA Program Brainwashing

    CIA Mind Control Techniques MK-ULTRA Program Brainwashing Mind control (also known as brainwashing, coercive persuasion, mind abuse, thought control, or thought reform) refers to a process in which a group or individual “systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator(s), often to the detriment of the person being manipulated.” The term has been applied to any tactic, psychological or otherwise, which can be seen as subverting an individual’s sense of control over their own thinking, behavior, emotions or decision making. Theories of brainwashing and of mind control were originally developed to explain how totalitarian regimes appeared to succeed in systematically indoctrinating prisoners of war through propaganda and torture techniques. These theories were later expanded and modified, by psychologists including Margaret Singer, to explain a wider range of phenomena, especially conversions to new religious movements (NRMs). A third-generation theory proposed by Ben Zablocki focused on the utilization of mind control to retain members of NRMs and cults to convert them to a new religion. The suggestion that NRMs use mind control techniques has resulted in scientific and legal controversy. Neither the American Psychological Association nor the American Sociological Association have found any scientific merit in such theories. Project MKULTRA, or MK-ULTRA, was the code name for a covert, illegal CIA human research program, run by the Office of Scientific Intelligence. This official U.S. government program began in the early 1950s, continuing at least through the late 1960s, and it used U.S. and Canadian citizens as its test subjects. Donald Ewen Cameron (24 December 1901–8 September 1967) was a twentieth-century Scottish-American psychiatrist. Cameron was involved in Project MKULTRA, United States Central Intelligence Agency’s research on torture and mind control. Cameron lived and worked in Albany, New York, and was involved in experiments in Canada for Project MKULTRA, a United States based CIA-directed mind control program which eventually led to the publication of the KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation manual. He is unrelated to another CIA psychiatrist Alan Cameron, who helped pioneer psychological profiling of world leaders during the 1970s. Naomi Klein states in her book The Shock Doctrine that Cameron’s research and his contribution to the MKUltra project was actually not about mind control and brainwashing, but about designing “a scientifically based system for extracting information from ‘resistant sources.’ In other words, torture…Stripped of its bizarre excesses, Dr. Cameron’s experiments, building upon Donald O. Hebb’s earlier breakthrough, laid the scientific foundation for the CIA’s two-stage psychological torture method.” Mind control in popular culture: * The communal brainwashing of an entire model community via subliminal messages is a central theme in the 2009 novel Candor by Pam Bachorz. * In the novel A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, the protagonist undergoes a scientific re-education process called the “Ludovico technique” in an attempt to remove his violent tendencies. * In his 1999 science fictin novel A Deepness in the Sky, Vernor Vinge introduces the themes of “mindrot” and controlled “Focus” later eplored in his 2006 novel. * In the novel Night of the Hawk by Dale Brown, the Soviets capture and brainwash U.S. Air Force Lieutenant David Luger, transforming him into the Russian scientist Ivan Ozerov. * In George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (published in 1949 before the popularization of the term “brainwashing”), the fictional totalitarian government of Oceania uses brainwashing-style techniques to erase nonconformist thought and rebellious personalities. * Vernor Vinge speculates on the application of technology to achieve brainwashing in his 2006 science fiction novel, Rainbows End (ISBN 0-312-85684-9), portraying separately the dangers of JITT (Just-in-time training) and the specter of YGBM (You gotta believe me). Brainwashing became a common trope of films, television and games in the late twentieth century. It was a convenient means of introducing changes in the behavior of characters and a device for raising tension and audience uncertainty in the climate of Cold War and outbreaks of terrorism. * The film Brazil, depicts a fascist government similar to that in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The government controls a totalitarian society subconsciously by manipulation, intending to remain in control of the population. * Derren Brown: Mind Control (1999-2000)


  22. Why Obama Can’t Close Guantanamo
    National Security Policy Is Foiled by Congressional Politics and Bureaucratic Infighting
    Carol Rosenberg
    December 14, 2011

    The last two prisoners to leave the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay were dead. On February 1, Awal Gul, a 48-year-old Afghan, collapsed in the shower and died of an apparent heart attack after working out on an exercise machine. Then, at dawn one morning in May, Haji Nassim, a 37-year-old man also from Afghanistan, was found hanging from bed linen in a prison camp recreation yard.

    In both cases, the Pentagon conducted swift autopsies and the U.S. military sent the bodies back to Afghanistan for traditional Muslim burials. These voyages were something the Pentagon had not planned for either man: each was an “indefinite detainee,” categorized by the Obama administration’s 2009 Guantánamo Review Task Force as someone against whom the United States had no evidence to convict of a war crime but had concluded was too dangerous to let go. Today, this category of detainees makes up 46 of the last 171 captives held at Guantánamo. The only guaranteed route out of Guantánamo these days for a detainee, it seems, is in a body bag.

    The responsibility lies not so much with the White House but with Congress, which has thwarted President Barack Obama’s plans to close the detention center, which the Bush administration opened on January 11, 2002 with 20 captives.

    Congress has used its spending oversight authority both to forbid the White House from financing trials of Guantánamo captives on U.S. soil and to block the acquisition of a state prison in Illinois to hold captives currently held in Cuba who would not be put on trial — a sort of Guantánamo North. The current defense bill now before Congress not only reinforces these restrictions but moves to mandate military detention for most future al Qaeda cases unless the president signs a waiver. The White House withdrew a veto threat on the eve of likely passage Wednesday, saying the latest language gives the executive enough wiggle room to avoid military custody.

    On paper, at least, the Obama administration would be set to release almost half the current captives at Guantánamo. The 2009 Task Force Review concluded that about 80 of the 171 detainees now held at Guantánamo could be let go if their home country was stable enough to help resettle them or if a foreign country could safely give them a new start.

    But Congress has made it nearly impossible to transfer captives elsewhere. Legislation passed since Obama took office has created a series of roadblocks that mean that only a federal court order or a national security waiver issued by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta could trump Congress and permit the release of a detainee to another country.

    Neither is likely: U.S. District Court judges are not ruling in favor of captives in the dozens of unlawful detention suits winding their way from Cuba to the federal court in Washington. And on the occasions when those judges have ruled for detainees, the U.S. Court of Appeals has consistently overruled them in an ever-widening definition of who can be held as an affiliate of al Qaeda or the Taliban.

    Meanwhile, Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s top lawyer, believes that Congress crafted the transfer waivers a year ago in such a way that Panetta (and Robert Gates before him) would be ill-advised to sign them. (In essence, the Secretary of Defense is supposed to guarantee that the detainee would never in the future engage in violence against any American citizen or U.S. interest.)

    In a strange twist of history, Congress, through its control of government funds, is now imposing curbs on the very executive powers that the Bush administration invoked to establish the camps at Guantánamo in the first place. Much of its intransigence is driven by the politics of fear: what if, for example, a captive is acquitted in a civilian trial because the judge bars evidence obtained by the military without benefit of counsel? When will another freed Guantánamo detainee attack a U.S. target or interest, such as when Abdullah al Ajami, who was transferred to Kuwait in 2005, blew himself up in a truck bomb attack in Iraq in 2008?

    In the face of such public and political pressure — especially from Congress — Obama administration officials have waffled at several key moments. For example, Holder changed his mind on where to try five alleged 9/11 plotters at Guantánamo, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. In November 2009, Holder announced that the trial would be held in a civilian courtroom in Manhattan; then, in April 2011, following strong resistance from congressional representatives and New York politicians, the White House abandoned this plan and instead announced that Pentagon prosecutors would bring a trial by military commission.

    Resettling in the United States those captives cleared for release has also become taboo. Soon after taking over in 2009, the Obama administration was considering resettling Guantánamo captives from China’s Uighur Muslim minority, whom the Bush administration had readied for release. (They were to be hosted by Uighur-Americans in Virginia.) But then, in the face of congressional objections, the White House lost its nerve. The United States instead scattered the Uighurs to Bermuda, Switzerland, and even the Pacific island nation of Palau; five more Uighurs remain at Guantánamo.

    Factors besides Congress also contributed to the current Guantánamo stalemate. First, the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded that at least a fourth of the detainees the United States has released from Guantánamo were confirmed or suspected of later engaging in terrorism or insurgent activity. Opponents of closing Guantánamo immediately seized on these figures. (For its part, the Obama administration noted that most of those on the recidivist list were transferred before Obama took office, when the Bush-era Pentagon approved some 500 releases. Officials took fault with these big-batch transfers and claimed that the Obama administration’s individually fashioned, case-by-case system for release would yield better results.)

    Second, over the past couple years a powerful al Qaeda offshoot has taken hold in Yemen, the very country where the Obama administration had planned to transfer many detainees. Sending dozens of suspected terrorists back to a country besieged by a growing terrorist threat is hardly good politics or security policy.

    Lastly, Obama’s executive order to close Guantánamo was undone by the burdensome bureaucracy of the task force, which sought to sort each captive’s Bush-era file. Each detainee’s case file contained competing and often contradictory assessments from the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s Office of Military Commissions, the Department of Justice, and myriad other offices, bogging down the review process. Time ran out before the task force could settle on a master plan to move the detainees out of Guantánamo in time for Obama’s one-year deadline.

    Now it’s the war court — the military commissions that the Bush administration created to hear war crimes cases at Guantánamo, which were reformed by Obama through legislation — or nothing. And only two cases, both proposing military executions, are currently slated to go before the Guantánamo tribunals: those for the 9/11 attacks and for the October 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. To date, the war court has produced six convictions, four of them through guilty pleas in exchange for short sentences designed to get the detainees out of Guantánamo within a couple of years.

    Still, in the Kafkaesque world of military detention, neither an acquittal at the war court nor even a completed sentence guarantees that a detainee gets to leave Guantánamo. Once convicted, a captive is separated from the other detainees to serve his sentence on a different cellblock. (Four are there today, only one serving life.) Once that sentence is over, as both the Bush and Obama administrations have outlined detention policy, the convict can then be returned to the general population at Guantánamo as an “unprivileged enemy belligerent.”

    The doctrine has yet to be challenged. But if Ibrahim al Qosi, a 51-year-old Sudanese man convicted for working as a cook in an al Qaeda compound in Kandahar, does not go home when his sentence expires next year, his lawyers are likely to turn to the civilian courts to seek a release order.

    Guantánamo has largely faded from public attention. There is little reason to expect it to emerge as an issue in the upcoming presidential campaign season beyond the usual finger-pointing and slogans: Obama may blame Congress for cornering him into keeping the captives at Guantánamo rather than moving them somewhere else, and his opponents will no doubt argue that, by virtue of his wanting to close the facility in the first place, Obama is soft on terrorism. (“My view is we ought to double it,” Mitt Romney said about Guantánamo in a 2007 debate.)

    Meanwhile, the detention center enters its eleventh year on January 11. Guantánamo is arguably the most expensive prison camp on earth, with a staff of 1,850 U.S. troops and civilians managing a compound that contains 171 captives, at a cost of $800,000 a year per detainee. Of those 171 prisoners, just six are facing Pentagon tribunals that may start a year from now after pretrial hearings and discovery. Guantánamo today is the place that Obama cannot close.


  23. Osama Bin Laden’s Driver – US Interrogation techniques in action first time released!!
    Is this a good technique – you be the judge!


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