Putting an exclamation point ending, we hope, the debate over torture—is it really possible that we’re still having a debate over torture?—Senator John McCain has a definitive op-ed in the Post today making it clear that torture, and waterboarding, is not only wrong, but had nothing to do with tracking down Osama bin Laden.
Good work, Senator McCain!
He starts his piece by quoting former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who along with other torture-lovers (Dick Cheney, Representative Peter King, et al.) proclaimed that torture got results. Said Mukasey:
“The intelligence that led to bin Laden . . . began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. He loosed a torrent of information—including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden.”
Says McCain: “That is false.” Based on direct contact with the CIA Director Leon Panetta, McCain says:
“The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. The first mention of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti—the nickname of the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately led us to bin Laden—as well as a description of him as an important member of al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country, who we believe was not tortured. 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, the use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ on Khalid Sheik Mohammed produced false and misleading information. He specifically told his interrogators that Abu Ahmed had moved to Peshawar, got married and ceased his role as an al-Qaeda facilitator—none of which was true. According to the staff of the Senate intelligence committee, 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 bin Laden—was obtained through standard, noncoercive means.”
Case closed. And isn’t it sad that the case was ever opened in the first place.