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.