Wednesday, April 29, 2009


The release by the Obama Administration of the Bush era White House torture memos has sparked a spitting match between former Bush Adminstration officials, most notably Dick Cheney, and those who opposed torture as a technique as to whether it worked and resulted in information that in Cheney's words "saved lives".

Now Ali Soufan (pictured here in Afghanistan) a former FBI agent and who has been described as America's most successful Al-Qaeda interrogator, has come out and said the use of torture was unneccesary.

Time magazine has reported:

In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, Soufan says Abu Zubaydah gave up the information between March and June 2002, when he was being interrogated by Soufan, another FBI agent and some CIA officers. But that was not the result of harsh techniques, including waterboarding, which were not introduced until August. "We were getting a lot of useful material from [Abu Zubaydah], and we would have continued to get material from him. The rough tactics were not necessary."

There is little doubt that the torture techniques were not neccessary. Perhaps it was because Bush and Cheney ignored eight months worth of warnings leading up to the 911 attacks and were responsible for the deaths of 3,000 Americans because of their negligence that they went overboard in trying to prevent another attack.

Soufan stated unequivocally that torture doesn't work. He told Time magazine:

"When they are in pain, people will say anything to get the pain to stop. Most of the time, they will lie, make up anything to make you stop hurting them," he says. "That means the information you're getting is useless."

Defenders of waterboarding and the Bush decision to use it have tried to claim that waterboarding Khalid Sheik Mohammad in 2005 led to information that prevented an attack on the Library Buidling in Los Angeles. But other documents show that plot was discovered and broken up in 2002 using conventional interrogation techniques.

Soufan said his main objection to the techniques was moral. "To use violence against detainees," he says, "is [al-Qaeda's] way, not the American way."

Soufan said that when the harsh techniques were introduced he protested and his bosses at the FBI backed him up. He was removed from his assignment as an interrogator.

As of now it appears that against Obama's wishes, Senator Leahy is going to hold hearings into whether anyone in the Bush Administration violated any laws. Those hearings alone could do more good to re-establish the credibility of the United States than any speech made by Obama.

And the contention that somehow knowing the limits of US interrogators will make Al-Qaeda prisoners stronger and more apt to withold information doesn't hold, pardon the pun, any water.


Anonymous said...

great post - thank you.

Anonymous said...

Despite the the fact that torture has been practiced for centuries by many nations and cultures, the U.S. signed international agreements (Geneva Convention and UN) that makes torture illegal. That's all I need to know, and any debate about whether torture works when and how is unnecessary. Torture is illegal and those who practiced should be prosecuted for their crime. Mr. Obama said that he believes waterboarding is torture, and yet he's not ordering the DOJ to investigate and prosecute anyone who broke the law. Mr. Obama speaks out of both sides of his mouth.

Anonymous said...

If the law was broken, shouldn't the justice department step in? This isn't Obama's call is it? Not to be ignorant, but I am seeing this as more marketing against the Reps, and not an effort to prosecute a crime against humanity. I am not saying that nothing happened. But if nothing, keep quiet, If laws were broken, where is the action?

sue said...

Obama has alway spoken out of both sides of his moth.

That's the WHOLE PROBLEM!!!

Hillary would have run a completely PARTISAN campaign- Mr Hopey-Changey ran what he pretended to be a "bi-patisan" campaign- hopefully those stupid Independents and Republicans that thought he was going to bring us all together to sing kum-bay-ah are waking up now.

Hillary would have run w/ these memos, crucified Bush and moved on to the next thing.

Why are we still pondering this issue?

sue said...

Marc- swine flu?

David Souter?

Big fish to fry- Obama has conveniently again brushed another controversy under the rug-

We Americans. with our ADD, can't concentrate on too many things at once- just the way Obama wants it-

Sorry Marc- but I agree w. Anonymous- this is just the DNC's effort to persecute the Republicans.

I am very concerned for the democrats- they are riding very high and mighty right now- but the bigger they are... you know the rest...

were we this bloviating when Bill was POTUS? This seems beyond bloviation!

Marc Rubin said...

"Sorry Marc- but I agree w. Anonymous- this is just the DNC's effort to persecute the Republicans."

This of course is my opinion but the Republicans deserve it. They did more damage to the country in 8years than the Soviet Union could do in 50.

As everyone knows, Im hardly one to defend Obama but this is out of his hands. He already made the statement that he didnt want to see prosecutions and Feinstein, Leahy and Finegold just to name three wont have any of it. They are going to hold hearings and make referrals to the Justice Dept.

But going after the lawyers in the White House who tried craft legal opinions to claim it wasnt illegal is the right thing to do. What they did was illegal, the water boarding was illegal and they need to pay the price.