Justifying torture

I guess it’s no surprise that someone who would authorize torture would lie about what that torture accomplished.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has done this before, claiming that the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed led to the foiling of a plot to fly an airliner into the Library Tower in Los Angeles. One small problem: The plot was foiled before KSM was captured or tortured.

Cheney is at it again, this time claiming that the waterboarding of KSM provided the intel that led to the identification of the courier whose movements helped us locate Osama bin Laden. Others are predictably jumping on any justification for torture. Again, though, there’s a little problem with chronology. KSM was subjected to waterboarding 183 times the first month of his capture, but none after that. The CIA quit the use of waterboarding completely in 2006.

According to reports, KSM didn’t reveal the alias of the “trusted courier” until years into his captivity – in other words, years after he was waterboarded.

Many on the right are scrambling for ways to credit George W. Bush rather than President Obama for bin Laden’s demise. This “KSM’s torture provided the key intel” is likely to be embraced, because it both gives Bush credit and justifies one of his darkest decisions. But it is no more credible than the notion that torture conducted in 2003 could disrupt a plot foiled in 2002.

Update: The Associated Press specifically confirms that KSM didn’t give up the courier’s name while being waterboarded: “Mohammed did not reveal the names while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He identified them many months later under standard interrogation, they said, leaving it once again up for debate as to whether the harsh technique was a valuable tool or an unnecessarily violent tactic.”

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