Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Interrogation Techniques: Share the Successes!

Update II:  Exactly WHICH ADMINISTRATION is Politicizing Intelligence?

Stephen Hayes:
That's interesting: "top CIA officials have argued for years that so-called 'enhanced' interrogation techniques have yielded lifesaving intelligence breakthroughs," but the team of "expert advisers" from Obama's presidential campaign apparently knows better.

All of this leads to one obvious question: Who needs intelligence professionals when you have campaign advisers?

Cover Up!
According to Peter Baker's story in NYT: Banned Techniques Yielded ‘High Value Information,’ Memo Says, the Obama Administration redacted portions of a memo from their own Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis C. Blair, which asserted that CIA interrogation techniques elicited high value information from terrorists. The Obama Administration released a summary of the memo. The summary redacted this portion of the DNI Blair's memo:
“High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa’ida organization that was attacking this country”
“I like to think I would not have approved those methods in the past, but I do not fault those who made the decisions at that time, and I will absolutely defend those who carried out the interrogations within the orders they were given.”

Ed Morrissey:
Cheney filed a request to declassify those memos in March, and the CIA has yet to decide on his request, but we can no longer doubt that records exist showing the success of those interrogations.

Obama has occasionally suggested a truth-and-reconciliation approach to probing the use of torture by the Bush administration, but this establishes that Obama isn’t terribly interested in “truth”. Withholding the truth that waterboarding produced information that saved hundreds of American lives, perhaps thousands, shows that Obama values public relations more than he does the truth.

end update

60 second video of former CIA Director General Michael Hayden:
Most of the people who oppose these techniques want to be able to say
"I don't want my nation doing this ... and [these techniques] didn't work anyway".
That back half of the sentence isn't true. The facts of the case are: the use of these techniques against these terrorists did make us safer. It really did work.
The honorable position you have to take, if you want us to not do this ... has to be:
"Even though these techniques worked, I don't want you to do that."
[Saying that] takes courage. The other sentence doesn't.

One specific foiled plot (spearheaded and later revealed by Khalid Sheik Muhammad) involved a Phillipines cell crashing a plane into the tallest building on the west coast: the Library Tower in Los Angeles.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney:
“One of the things that I find a little bit disturbing about this recent disclosure is they put out the legal memos, the memos that the CIA got from the Office of Legal Counsel, but they didn't put out the memos that showed the success of the effort. And there are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity. They have not been declassified.”

“I formally asked that they be declassified now. I haven't announced this up until now, I haven't talked about it, but I know specifically of reports that I read, that I saw that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country.”

Must read Marc Thiessen in WaPo:
[J]ust as the memo begins to describe previously undisclosed details of what enhanced interrogations achieved, the page is almost entirely blacked out. The Obama administration released pages of unredacted classified information on the techniques used to question captured terrorist leaders but pulled out its black marker when it came to the details of what those interrogations achieved.
Why didn't Obama officials release this information as well? Because they know that if the public could see the details of the techniques side by side with evidence that the program saved American lives, the vast majority would support continuing it.

John at Powerline:
Why would the Obama administration not want the public to see detailed and previously undisclosed information about intelligence successes achieved through enhanced interrogation? Why does that information need to remain classified, when the administration is happy to give terrorists a road map to our interrogation techniques...? [...] How could our security be compromised by giving the American people the details on how successful the CIA's program was?

It's hard to think of any non-political answers to these questions. The logical inference is that Obama wants to release information that he thinks will smear the Bush administration, but does not want the American public to be fully informed about the benefits that were gained from the Bush administration's policies--policies that he now proposes to abandon. All the more reason to join in Dick Cheney's request that, if the administration is going to open the book on enhanced interrogation, the American people should be able to see the whole record.

Thiessen with more fascinating info:
But the memos note that, "as Abu Zubaydah himself explained with respect to enhanced techniques, 'brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship." In other words, the terrorists are called by their faith to resist as far as they can -- and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know. This is because of their belief that "Islam will ultimately dominate the world and that this victory is inevitable." The job of the interrogator is to safely help the terrorist do his duty to Allah, so he then feels liberated to speak freely.

This is the secret to the program's success. And the Obama administration's decision to share this secret with the terrorists threatens our national security.

Former CIA Director Hayden and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey in WSJ:
But confessions aren't the point. Intelligence is. Interrogation is conducted by using such obvious approaches as asking questions whose correct answers are already known and only when truthful information is provided proceeding to what may not be known. Moreover, intelligence can be verified, correlated and used to get information from other detainees, and has been; none of this information is used in isolation.
The limits of the Army Field Manual are entirely appropriate for young soldiers, for the conditions in which they operate, for the detainees they routinely question, and for the kinds of tactically relevant information they pursue. Those limits are not appropriate, however, for more experienced people in controlled circumstances with high-value detainees. Indeed, the Army Field Manual was created with awareness that there was an alternative protocol for high-value detainees.

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