Our friends at Mossad’s mouthpiece, DEBKAfile, report:
In the three days since the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, the French authorities have rounded up 900 individuals across France on suspicion of involvement in Islamic terror. The detentions on an unprecedented scale for France continues.
“If there was a distinctive modern style in torture, it was French modern: the field telephone magneto adapted with alligator clips, usually conjoined with water torture…”
The security forces of the French Republic have been historically unconstrained by the kind of sentimental humanitarianism which has so conspicuously afflicted counter-terrorist interrogation efforts by US Intelligence. The French have traditionally wired up the interrogation subject to a field telephone and happily turned the crank until he talked.
One wonder if they have 900 field phones available these days.
The US Bank Tower, formerly the Library Tower (left), and the Financial District of Los Angeles: still there.
Marc Thiessen factually refuted the claim that enhanced interrogations were ineffective back in April of 2009 using government memos revealing that Downtown LA is still there only because KSM talked after being waterboarded.
The Justice Department memo of May 30, 2005… notes that “the CIA believes ‘the intelligence acquired from these interrogations has been a key reason why al Qaeda has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West since 11 September 2001.’ . . . In particular, the CIA believes that it would have been unable to obtain critical information from numerous detainees, including [Khalid Sheik Mohammed] and Abu Zubaydah, without these enhanced techniques.” The memo continues: “Before the CIA used enhanced techniques . . . KSM resisted giving any answers to questions about future attacks, simply noting, ‘Soon you will find out.’ ” Once the techniques were applied, “interrogations have led to specific, actionable intelligence, as well as a general increase in the amount of intelligence regarding al Qaeda and its affiliates.”
Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques “led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the ‘Second Wave,’ ‘to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into’ a building in Los Angeles.” KSM later acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast. …
[And] there is more information confirming the program’s effectiveness. The Office of Legal Counsel memo states “we discuss only a small fraction of the important intelligence CIA interrogators have obtained from KSM” and notes that “intelligence derived from CIA detainees has resulted in more than 6,000 intelligence reports and, in 2004, accounted for approximately half of the [Counterterrorism Center’s] reporting on al Qaeda.” The memos refer to other classified documents — including an “Effectiveness Memo” and an “IG Report,” which explain how “the use of enhanced techniques in the interrogations of KSM, Zubaydah and others . . . has yielded critical information.” Why didn’t Obama officials release this information as well? Because they know that if the public could see the details of the techniques side by side with evidence that the program saved American lives, the vast majority would support continuing it.
Critics claim that enhanced techniques do not produce good intelligence because people will say anything to get the techniques to stop. But the memos note that, “as Abu Zubaydah himself explained with respect to enhanced techniques, ‘brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship.” In other words, the terrorists are called by their faith to resist as far as they can — and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know. This is because of their belief that “Islam will ultimately dominate the world and that this victory is inevitable.” The job of the interrogator is to safely help the terrorist do his duty to Allah, so he then feels liberated to speak freely.
1. The infliction of excruciating pain, as practised by cruel tyrants, savages, brigands, etc. from a delight in watching the agony of a victim, in hatred or revenge, or as a means of extortion; specifically judicial torture, inflicted by a judicial or quasi-judicial authority, for the purpose of forcing an accused or suspected person to confess, or an unwilling witness to to give evidence or information; a form of this (often in plural). To put to (the) torture, to inflict torture upon, to torture. …
historical examples of usage omitted
2. Severe or excruciating pain or suffering of mind or body; anguish, agony, torment; the infliction of such. …
figurative meanings omitted
— Oxford English Dictionary, 1971, p. 3357.
The left has loudly and persistently accused the Bush Administration of violating International Law, the US Constitution, the Geneva Convention, and conventional standards of human decency by torturing detainees.
These accusations have been advanced by a large variety of allied voices at every level of print and electronic publication employing the same inflammatory characterizations, the same reliance on preassumed conclusions, and the same intimidating tone of exaggerated emotionalism.
The left’s punditocracy naturally avoids ever questioning whether modest forms of coercion, such as waterboarding, slaps to the face or abdomen, sleep deprivation, and deliberately-caused temperature discomfort, etc., carefully and deliberately calculated to stop short of inflicting any enduring harm to the subject, actually do rise to the level of meeting the normal (non-figurative) definition of torture.
A slap to the face may be painful, humiliating, and unpleasant, but it is really “excruciating” or “severe?” Most of us (of the older generation, at least) actually have been slapped in the face in childhood by other children and even by adults. My elementary school principal did not like an angry letter to the editor about her school policies I had composed in the 8th grade and slapped me across the face. I can’t say that I ever thought of myself as a torture victim or an appropriate case for an investigation by some International Committee on Human Rights.
When I read over the list of coercive measures sanctioned by the Bush Administration for use in extracting information from only three of the most important participants in a conspiracy which brought about the violent deaths of more than 3000 innocent American civilians and which was actively in the process attempting further such attacks on an even greater scale, most of them remind me of the ordinary cruelties inflicted on small children commonly by schoolyard bullies.
Waterboarding amounts to the victim being briefly deprived of breath by facial immersion in an attempt to use fear of drowning to compel cooperation. Is there really anyone in America who didn’t have his or her head held underwater at least once by a larger bully or childhood playmate?
Abu Zubaydah was placed by CIA interrogators into close propinquity with a caterpillar. I’m afraid that when I search my own conscience I can recall dropping a caterpillar down the back of at least one female classmate back in the third grade myself.
The controversial coercive interrogation methods were employed by the Bush Administration against, we must remember, only three spectacularly guilty murderers whose hands were dripping with innocent blood, and were clearly not excruciating. They were capable of, and intended to, induce discomfort, probably even anguish, but not agony.
Severe is a relative term, I suppose. But, in the context of forcible interrogation, surely a severe form of coercion would be a practice capable of producing permanent injury or death.
What traditionally defined real torture, more specifically than the OED’s definition, was the permanence of the result. Someone would not be refered to as “tortured,” who had been beaten up or simply slapped around. A person referred to as having been tortured would have to have suffered, at the very least, lasting serious injury.
Torture has always conceptually involved pieces of one’s anatomy being cut or burned, fingernails pulled out, bones broken, and joints dislocated. Having your head dunked or your face slapped or being confronted by a caterpillar may be unpleasant, but only in the context of figurative speech is it torture.
A common perspective on the subject is that real torture has to include an ultimate threat of ending with death. The audience finds credible this viewpoint as illustrated in the 1941 John Huston film version of The Maltese Falcon.
Sam Spade finding himself unarmed in the presence of Caspar Guttman and his criminal allies successfully defies threats of torture because his adversaries can’t afford to kill him.
Joel Cairo: You seem to forget that you are not in a position to insist upon anything.
Caspar Cuttman: Now, come, gentlemen. Let’s keep our discussion on a friendly basis.
There certainly is something in what Mr. Cairo said…
Sam Spade: If you kill me, how are you gonna get the bird? If I know you can’t afford to kill me, how’ll you scare me into giving it to you?
Caspar Guttman: Sir, there are other means of persuasion besides killing and threatening to kill.
Sam Spade: Yes, that’s…That’s true. But none of them are any good unless the threat of death is behind them.
You see what I mean?
If you start something, I’ll make it a matter of your having to kill me or call it off.
Caspar Guttman: That’s an attitude, sir, that calls for the most delicate judgement on both sides. Because, as you know, in the heat of action, men are likely to forget where their best interests lie, and let their emotions carry them away.
Look at the first definition again. The coercive tactics employed by the Bush Administration did not produce “excruciating pain.” The US Administration was not a cruel tyranny (whatever the infantile left may chose to think). Our intelligence officers were not savages or brigands, though the three interrogation subjects certainly were. The discomforts inflicted on the three interrogation subjects were not done out of hatred or revenge, but to protect innocent lives. The only small portion of the Oxford Dictionary’s definition which fits is the purpose of causing unwilling witnesses to provide information. But that is only a descriptive portion of the definition, and the vital and key “excruciating pain” element of the definition is completely missing.
QED: The coercive tactics employed by the Bush Administration against three Al Qaeda detainees were not torture, not by the best dictionary definition of the word, and not by our conventional “ordinary language” understanding of the meaning of the word.
Sam: -Everybody has a limit. l spent some time in interrogation… once.
Spence: – They make it hard on you ?
Sam: – They don’t make it easy.
– Yeah, it was unpleasant. l held out as long as l could.
– All the stuff they tried.
– You just can’t hold out for ever.
Spence: – How’d they finally get to you ?
Sam: – They gave me a grasshopper.
Spence: – What’s a grasshopper ?
Sam: -Let’s see… That’s two part gin, two part brandy, one part crÃ¨me de menthe…
What Sam mockingly tells the pretender Spence in “Ronin” (1998) is a truth generally recognized by all adults in the military & the intelligence community: Nobody can resist all forms of coercive interrogation indefinitely.
There is, however, serious dissent on this obvious truth from the left-wing democrat party establishment, and particularly from prominent portions of the Gay commentariat.
Democrats, having just lost control of the Senate, are leaving power in the manner of dead skunk, leaving a terrible odor behind them, with today’s cynical publication of a totally partisan official intelligence report, concluding that enhanced interrogation (not even the trained attack caterpillar!) never worked, the CIA allegedly misinformed the rest of the government about the results of enhanced interrogation, the CIA roughed up some of the prisoners in manners and forms displeasing to the sensibilities of Senate democrats, confinement conditions were bleak, and the CIA was generally naughty, misleading, evasive, and destructive both to good government and the standing of the US in the world(!).
It is a total hatchet job, and it will be interesting to watch over time what the CIA does to democrats, particularly to Nancy Pelosi, in response.
Jose A. Rodriquez Jr. ran the CIA Interrogation Program, and he responded, back in April, to what was obviously coming.
On Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to declassify and release hundreds of pages of its report on U.S. terrorist interrogation practices. Certain senators have proclaimed how devastating the findings are, saying the CIAâ€™s program was unproductive, badly managed and misleadingly sold. Unlike the committeeâ€™s staff, I donâ€™t have to examine the program through a rearview mirror. I was responsible for administering it, and I know that it produced critical intelligence that helped decimate al-Qaeda and save American lives.
The committeeâ€™s staff members started with a conclusion in 2009 and have chased supportive evidence ever since. They never spoke to me or other top CIA leaders involved in the program, or let us see the report.
In other words, that report is just a partisan crock.
Former CIA Director Michael B. Mukasey testifies to the crucial role played by mildly coercive interrogation techniques in establishing the trail that ultimately led to Osama bin Laden.
The cosmic irony is that the single greatest success of the Obama Administration resulted specifically from the policies and tactics used by the previous administration which he ran against and has since eliminated.
[T]he intelligence that led to bin Laden came… began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. He loosed a torrent of informationâ€”including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden.
That regimen of harsh interrogation was used on KSM after another detainee, Abu Zubaydeh, was subjected to the same techniques. When he broke, he said that he and other members of al Qaeda were obligated to resist only until they could no longer do so, at which point it became permissible for them to yield. “Do this for all the brothers,” he advised his interrogators.
Abu Zubaydeh was coerced into disclosing information that led to the capture of Ramzi bin al Shibh, another of the planners of 9/11. Bin al Shibh disclosed information that, when combined with what was learned from Abu Zubaydeh, helped lead to the capture of KSM and other senior terrorists and the disruption of follow-on plots aimed at both Europe and the United States.
Another of those gathered up later in this harvest, Abu Faraj al-Libi, also was subjected to certain of these harsh techniques and disclosed further details about bin Laden’s couriers that helped in last weekend’s achievement.
The harsh techniques themselves were used selectively against only a small number of hard-core prisoners who successfully resisted other forms of interrogation, and then only with the explicit authorization of the director of the CIA. Of the thousands of unlawful combatants captured by the U.S., fewer than 100 were detained and questioned in the CIA program. Of those, fewer than one-third were subjected to any of these techniques.
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden has said that, as late as 2006, even with the growing success of other intelligence tools, fully half of the government’s knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations. The Bush administration put these techniques in place only after rigorous analysis by the Justice Department, which concluded that they were lawful.
The current president ran for election on the promise to do away with them even before he became aware, if he ever did, of what they were. Days after taking office he directed that the CIA interrogation program be done away with entirely, and that interrogation be limited to the techniques set forth in the Army Field Manual, a document designed for use by even the least experienced troops. It’s available on the Internet and used by terrorists as a training manual for resisting interrogation.
In April 2009, the administration made public the previously classified Justice Department memoranda analyzing the harsh techniques, thereby disclosing them to our enemies and assuring that they could never be used effectively again. …
Immediately following the killing of bin Laden, the issue of interrogation techniques became in some quarters the “dirty little secret” of the event. But as disclosed in the declassified memos in 2009, the techniques are neither dirty nor, as noted by Director Hayden and others, were their results little. As the memoranda concludedâ€”and as I concluded reading them at the beginning of my tenure as attorney general in 2007â€”the techniques were entirely lawful as the law stood at the time the memos were written, and the disclosures they elicited were enormously important. That they are no longer secret is deeply regrettable. …
We… need to put an end to the ongoing investigations of CIA operatives that continue to undermine intelligence community morale.
Acknowledging and meeting the need for an effective and lawful interrogation program, which we once had, and freeing CIA operatives and others to administer it under congressional oversight, would be a fitting way to mark the demise of Osama bin Laden.
Doug Ross outlines the simple facts which play havoc with one of Barack Obama’s principal campaign issues. Say, how is Eric Holder’s plan to prosecute CIA interrogators going?
1. 2003: Enhanced Interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad Results in the Nom De Guerre of bin Ladin’s Courier…
2. 2004: Enhanced Interrogation of al-Qahtani Confirms the Nom De Geure of bin Ladin’s Courier…
3. 2006 (?): Enhanced Interrogation of an Al Qaeda Captured in Iraq, Ghul, Produces the Real Name of the Courier…
4. 2006-2009: NSA Begins Furiously Intercepting Any And All Communications Made By Anyone “al-Kuwaiti” Has Ever Known…
5. Late 2010 (?): al-Kuwaiti Places a Very Ill-Advised Phone Call… “[conversing] with someone who was being monitored by U.S. intelligence… the courier [then] unknowingly led authorities to a [bizarre] compound in the northeast Pakistani town of Abbottabad…”
6. 2011: Surveying Abbottabad, We Grow Confident We’ve Found Bin Ladin’s Hideout…
7. April 29-May 1 2011: Obama’s Team Tells Him They Have High Confidence Bin Ladin (or at Least His Most Trusted Courier) is In the Compound, and Obama Agrees, and Orders the Raid; On May 1 It’s Executed By SEAL Team 6…
8. May 2011: Begin a Disinformation Campaign To Convince the Public That 2003-2008 Never Happened.
David Ignatius observes that, in the new, morally-improved age of Obama, sleep deprivation, face slaps, and body shakes are out, but sudden death by high explosive is thriving as never before.
Liberal scruples about interrogation and unlimited detention and the significant percentage of released detainees returning to the jihad have very obviously modified the American approach to war. If you can’t gain any information from captured insurgents and you are going to wind up in the end playing catch-and-release, the likelihood that you are going to take any prisoners at all declines dramatically.
Most amusingly, the consciences of the intelligentsia have been found to be surprisingly comfortable with the more recent remote-killing campaign.
Every war brings its own deformations, but consider this disturbing fact about America’s war against al-Qaeda: It has become easier, politically and legally, for the United States to kill suspected terrorists than to capture and interrogate them.
Predator and Reaper drones, armed with Hellfire missiles, have become the weapons of choice against al-Qaeda operatives in the tribal areas of Pakistan. They have also been used in Yemen, and the demand for these efficient tools of war, which target enemies from 10,000 feet, is likely to grow.
The pace of drone attacks on the tribal areas has increased sharply during the Obama presidency, with more assaults in September and October of this year than in all of 2008. At the same time, efforts to capture al-Qaeda suspects have virtually stopped. Indeed, if CIA operatives were to snatch a terrorist tomorrow, the agency wouldn’t be sure where it could detain him for interrogation.
Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA, frames the puzzle this way: “Have we made detention and interrogation so legally difficult and politically risky that our default option is to kill our adversaries rather than capture and interrogate them?”
It’s curious why the American public seems so comfortable with a tactic that arguably is a form of long-range assassination, after the furor about the CIA’s use of nonlethal methods known as “enhanced interrogation.” When Israel adopted an approach of “targeted killing” against Hamas and other terrorist adversaries, it provoked an extensive debate there and abroad.
“For reasons that defy logic, people are more comfortable with drone attacks” than with killings at close range, says Robert Grenier, a former top CIA counterterrorism officer who now is a consultant with ERG Partners. “It’s something that seems so clean and antiseptic, but the moral issues are the same.”
The commentariat of the left is complaining that US forces did not stop the Iraqis from coercively interrogating enemy prisoners. The other big news is the larger involvement of Iran in the Iraq insurgency than the US government publicly reported.
WikiLeaks Bombshell: US Knew Arab Regime Tortured Citizens!!!
Wow. this is the big deal? And what was the US supposed to do if they investigated claims that the Iraqi government tortured its citizens? Invade? Yeah, I bet Julian Assange, the hysterical Left, and their Islamist allies would love that.
It’s the problem with America haters like Assange, Chomsky, and Osama bin Laden: it’s a worldview where America is always in the wrong, no matter what we do.
When we act, it’s evidence of US Imperialism. When we don’t act, it’s evidence of the US not caring about brown people.
We’re damned if we do, we’re damned if we don’t.
Which makes their underlying theory of cause and effect not a theory at all. First because it’s not falsifiable. Second, because all affects are attributed to the same cause.
I think the part of the story that pisses me off the most is that Assange promised us last time he’d do a better job of vetting the documents in order to protect the lives of soldiers and civilians. So, what did he do? Gave al Jazeera complete access to them.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Osama bin Laden, Ramzi Binalshibh and Mohammed Atta
All poor Mohamedou Ould Slahi did was recruit Mohammed Atta, Marwan al Shehhi, and Ziad Jarrah, the suicide pilots of American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, and United Airlines Flight 93, for their mission on September 11, 2001.
Mr. Slahi and his defense team allege that he was tortured, i.e., beaten, exposed to uncomfortable temperatures, threatened, frightened by threats against his family, and sexually taunted by female interrogators. A DOD inquiry failed to confirm most of these allegations, but they were obviously credited, and considered to constitute torture, by the officer in charge of prosecution.
Although the treatment apparently induced Mr. Slahi’s compliance, the military prosecutor, Marine Lt. Col. V. Stuart Couch, determined that it constituted torture and evidence it produced could not lawfully be used against Mr. Slahi.
Col. Couch, in a March 31, 2007, Page One story in The Wall Street Journal, cited legal, professional and moral reasons for declining to prosecute.
Mr. Slahi, who was then viewed as a cooperator by interrogators, was granted various privileges at GuantÃ¡namo Bay, including his own quarters and garden to tend.
Col. Couch, now in private practice in North Carolina, said Monday’s order “is one of the consequences that the decision-makers should have foreseen when they decided to adopt a policy of cruelty, and the interrogation techniques that flowed from it.”
The same Journal article informs us that he is consequently being freed to resume his former activities.
A suspected al Qaeda organizer once called “the highest value detainee” at GuantÃ¡namo Bay was ordered released by a federal judge in an order issued Monday.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi was accused in the 9/11 Commission report of helping recruit Mohammed Atta and other members of the al Qaeda cell in Hamburg, Germany, that took part in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Military prosecutors suspected Mr. Slahi of links to other al Qaeda operations, and considered seeking the death penalty against him while preparing possible charges in 2003 and 2004.
U.S. District Judge James Robertson granted Mr. Slahi’s petition for habeas corpus, effectively finding the government lacked legal grounds to hold him. The order was classified, although the court said it planned to release a redacted public version in the coming weeks.
Mr. Robertson held four days of closed hearings in the Slahi case last year. Mr. Slahi testified via secure video link from GuantÃ¡namo Bay, said his attorney.
“They were considering giving him the death penalty. Now they don’t even have enough evidence to pass the test for habeas,” said the attorney, Nancy Hollander, of Albuquerque, N.M.
Spiegel did a major article in October of 2008 on Slahi.
What can one possibly say about the kind of stupidity that equates misinforming, threatening, taunting, scaring, and even roughing up or inflicting some discomfort on a mass murderer with torture? Or about the legal acumen of jurists who award habeas corpus protection to unlawful belligerents apprehended overseas during time of war?
Do you suppose they can quote “Quos Deus perdere, dementat” [Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad] in Arabic?
The Afghan Taliban’s former second in command has been “singing like a male canary” since his capture last month, officials here told The Washington Examiner.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was arrested by Pakistani security agencies in Karachi, has become “a vital asset in gathering information on the Taliban and other extremist groups operating in the region,” one Pakistani counterintelligence official said.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of his work. Baradar is of interest to both U.S. and Afghan authorities. It is believed that U.S. counterintelligence officials are also questioning Baradar, who has close ties to Mullah Omar and other leaders in the region.
Baradar’s information that will aide both Pakistan and the United States in the war on terror, the Pakistani officials said.
“He obviously does not want to be released under any circumstances,” one Pakistani official said. “He would not survive after the information he has given the government.”
Baradar was born in Wetmak village in the southern Uruzgan province of Afghanistan into an ethnic Pashtun Popalzai clan in 1968. His arrest dealt a serious blow to the Afghan Taliban.
The Pakistani official said Islamabad “is expected to turn over Baradar to Afghan authorities after we have finished with him.”
What the article and its sources fail to discuss is the obvious consideration that, post capture, Baradar was not Mirandized, taken to Guantanamo, sent to Illinois, given a trial in Manhattan, or released in Bermuda. In fact, he was not put in US custody at all.
It is only too clear that US domestic differences concerning detainee status, interrogation, and ultimate fate have produced a state of affairs in which we have every interest in making sure that a captured terrorist in possession of valuable information wind up in somebody’s else hands rather than our own. We cannot cope with prisoners.
We can’t interrogate them. We don’t know how to try them. And we are incapable even of keeping them safe in captivity. Bring someone like Baradar into the United States, and Ivy-League-educated attorneys will come a-running to be sure that he gets the full protection of the kind of top flight legal counsel you certainly could not afford, the domestic Constitution, the Magna Carta, and the opinion pages of the Washington Post and New York Times.
In Pakistan, the ISI can apply any enhanced interrogation techniques it cares to try. No wonder Baradar is talking.
Best of all, no one is accusing Barack Obama of renditioning Baradar to Pakistan. Why, the scoundrel was captured there. It’s not Obama’s fault that he fell into the tender mercies of Pakistani intelligence.