In an historic refute of a long standing C.I.A. claim, a Senate investigation has concluded that torture, most notably methods like water-boarding and prolonged sleep deprivation, did not bring about the information that led to the discovery of Osama Bin Laden.
The many competing agencies and institutions under the U.S. government- the C.I.A., the Justice department, the NSA, FBI, Congress, and so on- have historically been tied in a tug of war over crucial leads and claims to groundbreaking successes. The latest revelation handed down from the Senate detailing the lack of efficacy of torture methods is just another blow from lawmakers to the intelligence community, both of which have never really seen eye to eye on such matters.
Former Bush administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, have maintained the idea that the evidence trail that led the U.S. Navy Seal Team to Bin Laden’s doorstep were brought about by torture, or what the former administration dubbed “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
The report came after reviewing the various intel collected from some of the biggest names captured in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. One such high-profile detainee, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has been reported to have undergone torture and water-boarding almost 200 times, was said to have provided no information that led to the ultimate arrest of Bin Laden.
The one crucial piece of information Khalid Sheikh Mohammed did provide about the existence of al-Qaida courier Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, was delivered to interrogators months after the torture methods were halted and standard interrogation took place. The Senate report concludes then, and only then, did Khalid Sheikh Mohammed lead investigators to the man who would ultimately lead U.S. intelligence to the Pakistani military town of Abottabad.
Criminal psychologists and observers have maintained that more often than not, making a suspect feel comfortable with their interrogators provides much more useful information than torture. It seems as though the Senate report has confirmed such a theory.
The linchpin in the hunt for Bin Laden came when NSA eavesdroppers monitored a telephone conversation from Sheikh Abu Ahmed, later discovered to be the true identity of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti according to the findings.
Other instances of detainees providing information before or after- not during the application of torture methods- are detailed throughout the Senate report’s findings.
In 2012 during a news release, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin, made mention of a third detainee who had offered to investigators pressing information on the courier. They said in their statement that the unnamed detainee provided such crucial information only before undergoing torture administered by the C.I.A., and that during the enhanced interrogation little to no usable information was provided. Fienstein and Levin said that the Senate’s report would “detail” this information.
In the end, human rights activists are saying that this is not only a victory for the humane treatment of prisoners worldwide, it helps expose the erroneous claim that torture techniques are useful in gathering reliable information. The C.I.A. has refuted the report and have denounced the Senate report’s findings.
By John Amaruso