Documents Fail to Exonerate 'Enhanced Interrogation' Techniques
For months, former Vice President Dick Cheney has said that two documents prepared by the CIA, one from 2004 and the other from 2005, would refute critics of the Bush administration's torture program. He told Fox's Sean Hannity in April:
"I haven't talked about it, but I know specifically of reports that I read, that I saw, that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country," Cheney said. "I've now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was."
Those documents were obtained today by The Washington Independent and are available here. Strikingly, they provide little evidence for Cheney's claims that the "enhanced interrogation" program run by the CIA provided valuable information. In fact, throughout both documents, many passages though several are incomplete and circumstantial, actually suggest the opposite of Cheney's contention: that non-abusive techniques actually helped elicit some of the most important information the documents cite in defending the value of the CIA's interrogations.
The first document, issued by the CIA in July 2004 is about the interrogation of 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003 and whom, the newly released CIA Inspector General report on torture details, had his children's lives threatened by an interrogator. None of that abuse is referred to in the publicly released version of the July 2004 document. Instead, we learn from the July 2004 document that not only did the man known as "KSM" largely provide intelligence about "historical plots" pulled off from al-Qaeda, a fair amount of the knowledge he imparted to his interrogators came from his "rolodex" that is, what intelligence experts call "pocket litter," or the telling documentation found on someone's person when captured. As well, traditional intelligence work appears to have done wonders including a fair amount of blundering on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's part:
In response to questions about [al-Qaeda's] efforts to acquire [weapons of mass destruction], [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] revealed that he had met three individuals involved in [al-Qaeda's] program to produce anthrax. He appears to have calculated, incorrectly, that we had this information already, given that one of the three Yazid Sufaat had been in foreign custody for several months.
This is a far cry from torturing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed into revealing such information. It would be tendentious to believe that the torture didn't have any impact on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed he himself said that he lied to interrogators in order to get the torture to stop but the document itself doesn't attempt to present a case that the "enhanced interrogation" program was a factor, let alone the determinant factor, in the intelligence bounty the document says he provided.