The Torture Presidency
Andrew Sullivan has a must read post on Charlie Savage's book "Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency." The Bush administration approved the torture of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libbi. He confessed information that Al Qaeda was attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
"Al Qaeda continues to have a deep interest in acquiring weapons of mass destruction," Colin Powell told the Untied Nations. "I can trace the story of a sernior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to al Qaeda. Fortunately, this operative is now detained and he has told his story."
The information was tortured out of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libbi was bogus. He was tortured by means of waterboarding and hypothermia. He told his interrogators what they wanted to hear for one simple reason. So they would stop. Former Vietnam POW and Senator John McCain wrote, "I gave them the names of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line, knowing that providing them false information was sufficient to suspend the abuse."
The intelligence used to make the case for the Iraq war was gained through methods of torture. We know now that the WMD intelligence was fraudulent. The question is how much intelligence was achieved through torture? This is a question that will haunt America for a long time.
Sullivan is right. Not only is torture barbaric - it is is threat to America's national security. How many intelligence resources are sent chasing phony leads? How many lives could have been spared if Bush wasn't given the authorization to declare war on Iraq? Would Osama bin Laden be captured or killed if we didn't divert troops from Afhanistan. We may never know the answers to these questions. We do know that torture doesn't work.