Seton Hall Law School Professor Jonathan Hafetz made an important point today:
CIA director, John O Brennan, admitted that the agency “has not concluded that it was the use of EITs [“Enhanced Interrogation Techniques aka torture] that allowed us to obtain useful information from detainees”.
The [CIA] – unlike its loudest defenders – is not endorsing torture as a means of gaining intelligence or keeping the country safe.
The flurry of media appearances by Cheney and other torture defenders has created a false sense that there is a genuine divide over whether torture “works”. But neither the CIA nor professional interrogators actually say that.
Indeed, the CIA has consistently said for many decades that torture doesn’t work:
- The CIA’s 1963 interrogation manual stated:
Intense pain is quite likely to produce false confessions, concocted as a means of escaping from distress. A time-consuming delay results, while investigation is conducted and the admissions are proven untrue. During this respite the interrogatee can pull himself together. He may even use the time to think up new, more complex ‘admissions’ that take still longer to disprove.
- Richard Stolz, the chief of the CIA’s clandestine service under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, testified to Congress:
Physical abuse or other degrading treatment was rejected not only because it is wrong, but because it has historically proven to be ineffective.
- According to the Washington Post, the CIA’s top spy – Michael Sulick, head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service – said that the spy agency has seen no fall-off in intelligence since waterboarding was banned by the Obama administration. “I don’t think we’ve suffered at all from an intelligence standpoint.”
- The CIA’s own Inspector General wrote that waterboarding was not “efficacious” in producing information
- A 30-year veteran of CIA’s operations directorate who rose to the most senior managerial ranks (Milton Bearden) says (as quoted by senior CIA agent and Presidential briefer Ray McGovern):
It is irresponsible for any administration not to tell a credible story that would convince critics at home and abroad that this torture has served some useful purpose.
The old hands overwhelmingly believe that torture doesn’t work ….
- A former high-level CIA officer (Philip Giraldi) states:
Many governments that have routinely tortured to obtain information have abandoned the practice when they discovered that other approaches actually worked better for extracting information. Israel prohibited torturing Palestinian terrorist suspects in 1999. Even the German Gestapo stopped torturing French resistance captives when it determined that treating prisoners well actually produced more and better intelligence.
- Another former high-level CIA official (Bob Baer) says:
And torture — I just don’t think it really works … you don’t get the truth. What happens when you torture people is, they figure out what you want to hear and they tell you.
- Michael Scheuer, formerly a senior CIA official in the Counter-Terrorism Center, says:
“I personally think that any information gotten through extreme methods of torture would probably be pretty useless because it would be someone telling you what you wanted to hear.”
- A retired C.I.A. officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002 (Glenn L. Carle) says:
[Coercive techniques] didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information…Everyone was deeply concerned and most felt it was un-American and did not work.”
- A former CIA analyst notes:
During the Inquisition there were many confessed witches, and many others were named by those tortured as other witches. Unsurprisingly, when these new claimed witches were tortured, they also confessed. Confirmation of some statement made under torture, when that confirmation is extracted by another case of torture, is invalid information and cannot be trusted.