Dear Madame L,
I heard that the information the U.S. intelligence and military operations used to find Osama bin Laden came from the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the Bush administration.
In fact, I read that former VP Dick Cheney and other members of the Bush administration claim that the water-boarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was what led the CIA to bin Laden's couriers, leading eventually to finding bin Laden himself.
Can you check this out for me?
Believer in the Geneva Convention
Dear Sniveling Liberal Cry-Baby,
Madame L is just kidding. She also believes in the Geneva Convention, under which water-boarding and other cruel methods of interrogation are considered torture and are therefore banned.
Madame L also wishes that the U.S. would stand firm for its own stated values of humane treatment of everyone, even criminals and terrorists. Madame L believes that if we don't do this, we lose our credibility in the world, not to mention our soul as a nation.
Madame L tends not to believe the self-serving statements of Cheney and other members of the Bush administration, who want to claim credit for capturing the terrorist, absolve themselves of guilt for what they know were illegal activities, and at the same time cast stones at President Barack Obama for everything under the sun.
Madame L notes that politicians and military and intelligence officials on the other side of the fence from Cheney et al. insist that the information obtained from KSM was obtained NOT from the "enhanced" (i.e., illegal) interrogations of the Bush administration but from more conventional interrogation methods.
Madame L has not figured out yet how to know for sure which information KSM gave at which times during the many times he was interrogated or tortured by U.S. personnel.
However, Madame L is impressed with Senator John McCain's recent statement on the Senate floor on the subject, and is including that statement below. Here is the full 23-minute speech:
Here is a 4-minute excerpt:
I hope you will read it carefully. McCain points out that KSM, like McCain himself, and like every other prisoner who is tortured, will say ANYTHING to stop the pain; and that for that reason alone conventional questioning invariably yields more correct and therefore more valuable information.
Here is an excerpt from Senator McCain's speech:
“With so much misinformation being fed into such an essential public debate as this one, I asked the Director of Central Intelligence, Leon Panetta, for the facts. And I received the following information:
“'The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. We did not first learn from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed the real name of bin Laden’s courier, or his alias, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — the man who ultimately enabled us to find bin Laden. The first mention of the name Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, as well as a description of him as an important member of Al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country. The United States did not conduct this detainee’s interrogation, nor did we render him to that country for the purpose of interrogation. We did not learn Abu Ahmed’s real name or alias as a result of waterboarding or any ‘enhanced interrogation technique’ used on a detainee in U.S. custody. 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, not only did the use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed not provide us with key leads on bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmed; it actually produced false and misleading information. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed specifically told his interrogators that Abu Ahmed had moved to Peshawar, got married, and ceased his role as an Al-Qaeda facilitator — which was not true, as we now know. All we learned about Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti through the use of waterboarding and other ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ against Khalid Sheik Mohammed was the confirmation of the already known fact that the courier existed and used an alias.
“I have sought further information from the staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and they confirm for me that, in fact, 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 Osama bin Laden — was obtained through standard, non-coercive means, not through any ‘enhanced interrogation technique.’
“In short, it was not torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees that got us the major leads that ultimately enabled our intelligence community to find Osama bin Laden. I hope former Attorney General Mukasey will correct his misstatement. It’s important that he do so because we are again engaged in this important debate, with much at stake for America’s security and reputation. Each side should make its own case, but do so without making up its own facts."