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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.
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”