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The centerpiece of Dick Cheney’s six-week-long torture tour, in which he made the case that torture works, was a claim that there were two CIA studies that proved him right. He repeated this claim in several speeches, most prominently in a high-profile address at the American Enterprise Institute that he delivered just as President Obama gave his own speech at the National Archives. Cheney called on the CIA to declassify and release the documents. On Monday evening, they were released. Read the documents here.
In them you’ll find an interesting discussion of what the CIA learned from its interrogations of Khalid Shayk Mohammed and other terrorists. But look as much as you like, you won’t find anything that supports Cheney’s claim that application of the torture techniques led to the discovery of intelligence that saved American lives. The available evidence, moreover, suggests the opposite. KSM was happy to volunteer information to anyone who asked, as al Jazeera’s Yosri Fouda discovered when he interviewed the 9/11 mastermind. KSM’s handlers reported that he freely, even proudly, gave up useful information without the need for coercion. So what happened when the “rough stuff” was applied? The information he continued to supply got a whole lot less reliable. Suddenly KSM was confessing to all sorts of things he couldn’t possibly have done.
This morning even Bush’s Counterterrorism advisor Frances Townsend, appearing on CNN, was forced to admit the obvious: the CIA reports do not say that use of the Bush techniques secured actionable intelligence that could not have been gained through traditional methods.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”