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August 30, 2009

Keep It Quiet...The CIA IG Report Explicitly Says Enhanced Interrogation Techniques Work

Funny how after almost a week of parsing this, the important parts only came out in the Washington Post yesterday.

Let's see...a Saturday in August when everyone was either away or paying attention to the Kennedy funeral? Yeah, that might be a good time to fess up that EITs turned Khalid Sheik Mohammed into a fount of information about the ideology, structure and plans of al Qaeda.

After enduring the CIA's harshest interrogation methods and spending more than a year in the agency's secret prisons, Khalid Sheik Mohammed stood before U.S. intelligence officers in a makeshift lecture hall, leading what they called "terrorist tutorials."

..."KSM, an accomplished resistor, provided only a few intelligence reports prior to the use of the waterboard, and analysis of that information revealed that much of it was outdated, inaccurate or incomplete," according to newly unclassified portions of a 2004 report by the CIA's then-inspector general released Monday by the Justice Department.

The debate over the effectiveness of subjecting detainees to psychological and physical pressure is in some ways irresolvable, because it is impossible to know whether less coercive methods would have achieved the same result. But for defenders of waterboarding, the evidence is clear: Mohammed cooperated, and to an extraordinary extent, only when his spirit was broken in the month after his capture March 1, 2003, as the inspector general's report and other documents released this week indicate.

Over a few weeks, he was subjected to an escalating series of coercive methods, culminating in 7 1/2 days of sleep deprivation, while diapered and shackled, and 183 instances of waterboarding. After the month-long torment, he was never waterboarded again.

"What do you think changed KSM's mind?" one former senior intelligence official said this week after being asked about the effect of waterboarding. "Of course it began with that."

...John L. Helgerson, the former CIA inspector general who investigated the agency's detention and interrogation program, said his work did not put him in "a position to reach definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of particular interrogation methods."

"Certain of the techniques seemed to have little effect, whereas waterboarding and sleep deprivation were the two most powerful techniques and elicited a lot of information," he said in an interview. "But we didn't have the time or resources to do a careful, systematic analysis of the use of particular techniques with particular individuals and independently confirm the quality of the information that came out."

Read the whole thing and then read the Weekly Standard's wrap up of analysis of the reports.

Some will always argue that we should never do any of these things. I suppose that's a moral argument that can never be settled. What clearly can not be argued with any legitimacy is that the EITs did not work in generating desperately needed information.*

The second argument many will make, and that is made repeatedly in the article despite the evidence to the contrary, is that we might gotten the same information using kinder and gentler means. We'll never know but that's besides the point. We know what did work. This is a bottom line endeavor, you either get the information or not. There are no style points.

You know, instead of investigating CIA interrogators perhaps we should be handing out medals.

*I jumbled that in the original post and cleaned it up to be clear about what I meant.


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posted by DrewM. at 12:51 PM

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