The CIA Won’t Let Senate Report Settle ‘Debate’ on Whether Torture Led to Bin Laden

Former CIA Counterterrorism Center head, Jose Rodriguez, at American Enterprise Institute forum on “Zero Dark Thirty” (Screenshot from CSPAN)

While it has been known for well over a year that a study conducted by the Senate intelligence committee into CIA’s use of torture would conclude that torture had not provided information, which ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, there is now further confirmation.

The Associated Press acknowledges that the “most high-profile detainee linked to the bin Laden investigation was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, whom the CIA waterboarded 183 times.” He apparently knew “an important al-Qaeda courier with the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.” However, “The report concludes that such information wasn’t critical.”

“Mohammed only discussed al-Kuwaiti months after being waterboarded, while he was under standard interrogation, they said. And Mohammed neither acknowledged al-Kuwaiti’s significance nor provided interrogators with the courier’s real name,” according to AP.

Significantly, as senators push to have at least parts of the completed study declassified (particularly what senators found in their investigation), the CIA refuses to accept that torture did not help the country hunt down bin Laden.

“Former Bush administration and some senior CIA officials have cited the evidence trail leading to the al-Qaeda mastermind’s compound in Pakistan as vindicating the ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ they authorized after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks,” the AP notes.

The CIA still contends that senior al-Qaeda operative Abu Faraj al-Libi, “who was captured in 2005 and held at a secret prison,” provided valuable information. Unnamed officials that benefit from this report remaining classified described “how al-Libi made up a name for a trusted courier and denied knowing al-Kuwaiti. Al-Libi, they said, was so adamant and unbelievable in his denial that the CIA took it as confirmation he and Mohammed were protecting the courier.”

This 6,300-page report prepared by the Senate, however, “concludes evidence gathered from al-Libi wasn’t significant.”

The CIA Won’t Let Senate Report Settle ‘Debate’ on Whether Torture Led to Bin Laden

Former CIA Counterterrorism Center head, Jose Rodriguez, at American Enterprise Institute forum on “Zero Dark Thirty” (Screenshot from CSPAN)

While it has been known for well over a year that a study conducted by the Senate intelligence committee into CIA’s use of torture would conclude that torture had not provided information, which ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, there is now further confirmation.

The Associated Press acknowledges that the “most high-profile detainee linked to the bin Laden investigation was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, whom the CIA waterboarded 183 times.” He apparently knew  “an important al-Qaeda courier with the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.” However, “The report concludes that such information wasn’t critical.”

“Mohammed only discussed al-Kuwaiti months after being waterboarded, while he was under standard interrogation, they said. And Mohammed neither acknowledged al-Kuwaiti’s significance nor provided interrogators with the courier’s real name,” according to AP.

Significantly, as senators push to have at least parts of the completed study declassified (particularly what senators found in their investigation), the CIA refuses to accept that torture did not help the country hunt down bin Laden.

“Former Bush administration and some senior CIA officials have cited the evidence trail leading to the al-Qaeda mastermind’s compound in Pakistan as vindicating the ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ they authorized after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks,” the AP notes.

The CIA still contends that senior al-Qaeda operative Abu Faraj al-Libi, “who was captured in 2005 and held at a secret prison,” provided valuable information. Unnamed officials that benefit from this report remaining classified described “how al-Libi made up a name for a trusted courier and denied knowing al-Kuwaiti. Al-Libi, they said, was so adamant and unbelievable in his denial that the CIA took it as confirmation he and Mohammed were protecting the courier.”

This 6,300-page report prepared by the Senate, however, “concludes evidence gathered from al-Libi wasn’t significant.”

For former government officials who have defended torture techniques, this report poses a key threat to their ability to continue to appear on cable news programs, pen editorials for newspapers and participate in speaking engagements where they can claim torture played an effective role in leading the US to bin Laden and helped keep the country safe.

This key talking point makes it possible to convince audiences and hosts of news programs to ignore the unmistakable fact that the interrogation techniques authorized were torture and should not be used on any human being. If it is lost, they will only have their disingenuous fear and crude ideology to aid them when confronted over their role in the CIA’s rendition, detention and torture program.

Former vice president Dick Cheney said on “The Charlie Rose Show” on February 13, 2013, “KSM was more than anybody else [subjected] to enhanced interrogation techniques and more than anybody else provided us with key pieces of intelligence that we needed in order to defend the nation against al Qaeda.”

On January 29, 2013, Jose Rodriguez, the former CIA Counterterrorism Center head who authorized the destruction of videotapes of interrogations, “It’s a ridiculous assertion when a report says that enhanced interrogation program had no value or produced nothing. Frankly it’s disturbing. Because in my view it is an attempt to rewrite history. The narrative of this administration is that the enhanced interrogation program was torture and nothing came out of it, but in fact we were able to destroy al Qaeda because of it.”

Rodriguez used appearances on television, where he was promoting his book, Hard Measures, to defend President George W. Bush’s administration and the use of torture techniques on terrorism suspects. He also, like other former officials, benefited from the release of the film, Zero Dark Thirty, depicting the hunt for bin Laden because it garnered him invitations to speak about how he believed intelligence from torture had led to bin Laden’s execution.

Former CIA director Michael Hayden has maintained that, “as late as 2006, even with the growing success of other intelligence tools, fully half of the government’s knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations.” On February 23, 2013, on Fareed Zakaria’s program on CNN, he said, “Part of that fabric in the hunt for bin Laden came from detainees against whom enhanced interrogation techniques have been used.”

John Rizzo, a former top CIA lawyer who oversaw whether torture techniques used on captives were “legal,” also during this same month, “This program was carried out, was originally carried out, evolved over the years, was refined, produced thousands of intelligence reports and was conducted, mind you, all those years, by career CIA officers, non-political public servants.”

“To say – to make a blanket statement that nothing of any value ever came out of these techniques, I just think beggars the imagination. I just don’t buy that.” (more…)