Chas Licciardello and John Barron speak to former CIA interrogator Glenn Carle, Washington DC journalist Annie Groer and best-selling author and political commentator Jim Hightower.
“I think that without a doubt, torture and enhanced interrogation techniques slowed down the hunt for bin Laden,” Matthew Alexander told The Huffington Post.
Alexander, an Air Force interrogator, was able to successfully locate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, in 2006.
Alexander, along with other intelligence professionals, said the use of torture may cause people to lie or make false confessions.
“They gave us the bare minimum amount of information they could get away with to get the pain to stop, or to mislead us,” Alexander said of several Guantanamo Bay detainees.
“[Osama bin Laden’s death] vindicates the Bush administration, whose intelligence architecture marked the path to bin Laden’s door,” John Yoo, the former Justice Department official under the Bush administration who authored the secret ‘torture memos,’ said on Monday. Under Bush, the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” i.e. torture, was legally sanctioned.
A 2006 study by the National Defense Intelligence College found that rapport-based interrogations are very effective in obtaining information, whereas coercion involving physical brutality consistently builds resistance and resentment.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged 9/11 mastermind, repeatedly misled interrogators on a key al-Qaeda suspect, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. Sheikh Mohammad, who has reportedly been waterboarded 183 times in one month, has been subjected to other physical abuses upon being detained by US authorities.
“The bottom line is this: If we had some kind of smoking-gun intelligence from waterboarding in 2003, we would have taken out Osama bin Laden in 2003,” spokesman for the National Security Council Tommy Vietor said.
Glenn L. Carle, a retired CIA officer said that torture, “didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information,” in tracking down bin Laden.
When Barack Obama became president, he announced an end to the enhanced interrogations of al-Qaeda leaders at secret detention facilities that his predecessor, George W. Bush, said were essential to breaking up terror networks in the long-term.
Obama instead ramped up the targeted killing of terrorists with drone strikes, taking out many more than under Bush.
But the revelation that tips prodded from captured al-Qaeda members subjected to “enhanced interrogations” led to the capture of Osama bin Laden has ignited a debate over whether Obama should revisit the policies he cast aside.
John Yoo, the Bush White House lawyer who ruled that terror suspects were “enemy combatants” could be handled outside the criminal justice system said the United States is “losing vital intelligence opportunities if we are killing bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders when we have the opportunity to capture them.”
Michael Vietor, spokesman for Obama’s National Security Council, said the value of the enhanced interrogation techniques has been overblown.
“It’s impossible to know whether information obtained by EITs (enhanced interrogation techniques) could have been obtained by other forms of interrogation,” Vietor said. “There’s no way that information obtained by EITs was the decisive intelligence that led us directly to bin Laden.”
Other CIA operatives say the program was ineffective in the long-term.
Glenn Carle, a former CIA operations officer who interrogated a suspected al-Qaeda leader, said the Bush detainee program was “a hugely labor-intensive operation” that’s “not sustainable for a large number of people over an extended period of time.” Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, was eventually found and killed without enhanced interrogation techniques, said Matthew Alexander, a retired Air Force officer and interrogator.
Former CIA Interrogator: Painstaking Intelligence Work, Not Torture, Responsible For Bin Laden Capture
What if a tiny piece of information that led to bin Laden came from torture or EITs? Today, Glenn Carle — who served 23 years in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations and for a time led the interrogation of a high value detainee — told ThinkProgress that if it the answer is yes, the right-wing will use that and say, “See torture works.” While Carle said it’s possible that EITs might provide information, that doesn’t mean they should ever be used:
CARLE: Well I change the tense and say not that they will use that but that they are using that within I think four hours of the announcement that bin Laden’s death.
Ultimately you get to an ends means debate. … The ends does not justify the means and you don’t build a policy, in this instance with regard to acceptable legal procedures, based upon the hypothetical, theoretical case which is five or ten standard deviations from the norm which happens one time in 5 million. What you do is you base your policies on an ever-changing calculus of probability likelihood and what is considered liked and works. And the answer to all of those questions should quite clearly exclude EITs. Is it possible that a specific piece of information from time to time would come from EITs? The answer is yes. To be fair the answer is yes. Does it justify using them? A categorical flat no.
Carle also said that during his time at CIA, “almost all the information obtained from EITs was recalled…because it was viewed as unreliable.”