15.5.11

Waterboarding/torture effectiveness in the pursuit of Osama bin Laden.

For a while now I've been researching the relative effectiveness of torture in the pursuit of global terrorists. My personal bias, which I'll try to leave out of this - is a reasonable moderate conservative.

Arguments:
Sen. John McCain, against - http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/bin-ladens-death-and-the-debate-over-torture/2011/05/11/AFd1mdsG_story.html CIA Director Leon Panetta quoted as saying the intel for OBL's capture not related to the information gained from KSM.

Mr. John Kiriakou, some indirect results for - http://articles.cnn.com/2007-12-11/politics/agent.tapes_1_waterboarding-cia-director-michael-hayden-cia-agent?_s=PM:POLITICS

Gordon Corera, BBC News Security correspondent, unidentified sources - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11715577 :

Soon after Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured, British intelligence officials began receiving intelligence from their US partners. Some of it proved valuable. It helped identify al-Qaeda operatives in the UK and disrupt a plot - still in its early stages - to fly hijacked planes into Canary Wharf.
Which is disputed:
British officials say there is no evidence that waterboarding saved lives of UK citizens, as Bush claimed in his memoirs
Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/09/british-deny-bush-claims-foil-terror
...in a number of instances:
No 10 dismisses George Bush's claim in his memoirs that interrogation technique is legal and helped foil attacks on Heathrow and Canary Wharf
The former chair of the Commons intelligence and security committee, Kim Howells, cast doubt on Bush's claim that it had helped save British lives. "We are not convinced," said the Labour MP.
Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/09/george-bush-memoirs-waterboarding

British officials said today there was no evidence to support claims byGeorge Bush, the former US president, that information extracted by "waterboarding" saved British lives by foiling attacks on Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf.
British counter-terrorism officials distanced themselves from Bush's claims. They said Mohammed provided "extremely valuable" information which was passed on to security and intelligence agencies, but that it mainly related to al-Qaida's structure and was not known to have been extracted through torture. Eliza Manningham-Buller,head of MI5 at the time, said earlier this year that the government protested to the US over the torture of terror suspects, but that the Americans concealed Mohammed's waterboarding from Britain. 
Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/09/british-deny-bush-claims-foil-terror
 The otherwise not terribly stellar intellectual (i.e., conspiracy theory crackpot) Jesse Ventura in a pithy quote reflecting what kind of results can be produced with the technique:
"...you give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders."http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/jesse-ventura-you-give-me-water-board-dick

The negative long-term effects of being viewed all over the world as a country that tortures people in secret prisons while we tell the same world to follow our lead on human rights, I would hope doesn't need too much elaboration. Let's give the liberals the benefit of the doubt on this one.

What remains then, is Mr. Kiriakou's "indirect" link (he later said he was used by active CIA to spread misinformation regarding the claim that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed lasted 35 seconds) and the assertion by BBC News Security correspondent Gordon Corera that intelligence information received from the US by UK authorities had direct results - who "later realised it came from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and that he had been waterboarded dozens of time to produce it."

Current Conclusion:
Possibly somewhat effective in short-term efforts to prevent terror attacks and with some serious negative effects in long-term. No or little impact in the hunt for OBL.


My question to fellow intellectuals and political thinkers:

Besides Mr. Kiriakou's indirect link and the unidentified sources of Gordon Corera, is there something I've missed in open sources that's even remotely tangible or concrete, to justify torture? Please cite your sources

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