There is a new campaign out there on the one year anniversary of the take-down of Osama Bin Laden claiming that his killing resulted from the success of the Bush torture program.
According to Rodriguez, high-value detainees were not cooperative and resisted CIA interrogation when they arrived. As this story goes, after the CIA subjected them to EITs, the detainees became cooperative and started answering questions.
Except they didn’t. Rodriguez in his book mentions numerous times that even after rendering the high-value detainees “complicit” through EITs, the CIA still didn’t get all the answers they wanted.
Professional interrogators who have actually interrogated high-value detainees (unlike Rodriguez) say that threats and pain can actually render those detainees more resistant and make an interrogation more likely to fail.
In real life, professional interrogators use non-coercive interrogation methods with high-value detainees and get the reliable, actionable information they’re after, without torturing or abusing anyone (hear them in the video below). And in real life, EITs and torture get you false information. The false link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, a major motivation for the war in Iraq, came largely from interrogations that involved torture.
Winston Churchill, in Britain’s ‘darkest hour’, did not allow the practice of torture — because it did not work and because it could backfire.
The Senate investigation into the CIA Torture program [PDF] has this to say about Rodriguez:
The roots of the UBL operation stretch back nearly a decade and involve hundreds, perhaps thousands, of intelligence professionals who worked non-stop to connect and analyze many fragments of information, eventually leading the United States to Usama Bin Laden’s location in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The suggestion that the operation was carried out based on information gained through the harsh treatment of CIA detainees is not only inaccurate, it trivializes the work of individuals across multiple U.S. agencies that led to UBL and the eventual operation.
We are also troubled by Mr. Rodriguez’s statements justifying the destruction of video tapes documenting the use of coercive interrogation techniques as “just getting rid of some ugly visuals.” His decision to order the destruction of the tapes was in violation of instructions from CIA and White House lawyers, illustrates a blatant disregard for the law, and unnecessarily caused damage to the CIA’s reputation.
Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, then Executive Director of the CIA, wrote in an e-mail that Rodriguez thought “the heat from destroying is nothing compared to what it would be if the tapes ever got into public domain – he said that out of context they would make us look terrible; it would be ‘devastating’ to us.”
Rodriguez is going around saying what he did was not torture, yet he destroyed the very evidence which would prove his supposed point. How convenient.
The producers of the soft focus 60 Minutes piece actually admit that what Rodriguez did was as bad as the Nazis and the Khmer Rouge, but they just wanted him to give ‘his side of the story.’ Senator Dianne Feinstein reacted to 60 Minutes giving him a platform where he could brag about his order to destroy videotapes by saying that this “illustrates a blatant disregard for the law.” Which rather begs the question as to why he hasn’t been arrested, and indeed why the Obama administration has given all those who allowed torture a free pass.
Romney supports EIT (torture) and the pushback from Cheney, and Rodriguez and their pals is not going to stop. Banished and denounced by Obama though torture was, it could still come back and this is why there is a call for the Senate to publish the full report on the CIA’s torture program, with as few redactions as possible, and comprehensively debunk people like them.
This is the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) three-year long review, a 4,000-page report of the CIA’s post-September 11 detention and interrogation practices.
Watch experts explain why ‘Torture is Counterproductive’ in this report from Human Rights First:
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