Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Water Boarding Is Back; Torture Is Back!

Water Boarding Is Back; Torture Is Back!

Don’t call it a comeback … water boarding has been here for years.

McCain: Japanese Hanged For Waterboarding

Not only that, the so-called “enhanced interrogation technique” may have played a role in obtaining the information that ultimately led a team of Navy Seals to the doorstep of Osama bin Laden‘s secret hideout in Pakistan.

Bin Laden was killed by a gunshot wound to the head on Sunday, an operation that has temporarily revived the political fortunes of U.S. President Barack Obama – a staunch opponent of water boarding (a.k.a. simulated drowning).

In an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, outgoing CIA director Leon Panetta acknowledged that water boarding was among the enhanced interrogation techniques used on detainees at Guantanamo Bay – which is where the trail that eventually led to bin Laden began.

“They used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of these detainees,” Panetta told Williams, adding that “whether we would have gotten the same information through other approaches I think is always gonna be an open question.”

Asked specifically if “enhanced interrogation techniques” was a euphemism for water boarding in the case of the detainees, Panetta answered in the affirmative.

“That’s correct,” he said.

Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney dismissed – but didn’t deny – reports that water boarding might have played a role in obtaining actionable intelligence related to bin Laden’s whereabouts (this NPR headline notwithstanding).

“The fact is that no single piece of information led to the successful mission that occurred on Sunday, and multiple detainees provided insights into the networks of people who might have been close to bin Laden,” Carney said. “it simply strains credulity to suggest that a piece of information that may or may not have been gathered in — eight years ago somehow directly led to a successful mission on Sunday. That’s just not the case.”

Frankly, we have no problem with water boarding provided its use is limited to foreign enemy combatants who have been directly linked to terrorist actions or plots against American citizens.

Seriously … if someone has blown up or otherwise murdered American citizens (or plotted to blow up or otherwise murder American citizens), then they’ve effectively waived their right to the traditional “good cop, bad cop” routine in our opinion.

Of course our founding editor has some decidedly Old Testament views on the virtue of disproportionate responses …

Debate continues over role of waterboarding in gathering bin Laden intel

Various accounts of the intelligence gathering that led to the death of Osama bin Laden gave rise to the suggestion on Monday that the mission to kill the al Qaeda leader was successful in part because of the "enhanced interrogation techniques" the U.S. used on some terrorism detainees.

Since then, however, the White House, some leaders in Congress and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have all played down the notion that waterboarding or other "enhanced" techniques aided the mission. At least one congressman, however -- Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) -- maintains that waterboarding helped.

"The fact is that no single piece of information led to the successful mission that occurred on Sunday," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a press briefing Tuesday. Multiple detainees provided insights, Carney said, and those insights were "just a slice of information" intelligence analysts gathered and used to track bin Laden.

Carney said it was "simply strange... to suggest a piece of information that may or my not have been gathered eight years ago somehow led to a successful mission on Sunday."

He added that there has been "no change whatsoever" to President Obama's opposition to the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.

The question of the role such techniques played in this mission arose after the Associated Press reported that it was two key detainees -- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi -- who gave American officials the nickname of a courier who ultimately led U.S. intelligence officials to bin Laden. The two detainees reportedly gave the information up at foreign CIA "black sites," where waterboarding occurred.

However, the AP fleshed out its report later in the day. Citing unnamed former officials, the AP wrote, "Mohammed did not discuss al-Kuwaiti while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding... He acknowledged knowing him many months later under standard interrogation."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, backed up the assertion today that waterboarding did not play a role in the sting against bin Laden.

"To the best of our knowledge based on a look, none of it came as a result of harsh interrogation practices," she said.

She added with respect to the usefulness of waterboarding -- a practice the U.S. historically considered to be torture: "I happen to know a good deal about how those interrogations were conducted, and in my view, nothing justifies the kind of procedures that were used."

Yet King, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, maintains that his sources tell him waterboarding played a key role in the mission.

"The initial information on the courier was obtained by waterboarding back in 2003,"King said on Fox News today. "I've spoken to people who are very familiar with the situation. They have first-hand information... I'm telling you that people who were on the ground, people who are in a position to know, they told me that."

U.S. intelligence officials told reporters Sunday night that they finally learned the courier's real name four years ago, years after learning his nickname from the detainees. As Wired's Spencer Ackerman points out, by that time, President Bush had already ceased waterboarding and shuttered the black sites, moving Mohammed, al-Libbi and other detainees to the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

In an interview Monday, Rumsfeld said that "no one was waterboarded at Guantanamo Bay."

"It is true that some information that came from normal interrogation approaches at Guantanamo did lead to information that was beneficial in this instance," he said with respect to the death.

Rumsfeld: Waterboarding Played Major Role in Al Qaeda Intel | Hannity

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The White House is still debating whether to release a photograph of Usama bin Laden's bodying following the raid. But CIA Director Leon Panetta hinted an interview that a picture of the body will ultimately be released.

Now officials are debating the issue because the most identifiable image of bin Laden is also the most gruesome. And despite Panetta's claim, he did say the White House will make the final decision about the release of the picture.

Now meanwhile, we are piecing together the key details of the raid that lead to Usama bin Laden's death at this Pakistani compound. Even the White House seemed confused about how the operation unfolded, in particular about whether Usama was armed, whether he used one of his wives as a human shield and whether she emerged from the fire fight dead or alive.

But we know now that a team of 24 Navy SEALs repelled into the compound on the president's orders, bin Laden some of his family members and two other families were living inside this mansion at this time. Now reports say that bin Laden and his family occupied the second and third floors. Now, the SEALs entered on the ground floor where they shot and killed two of bin Laden's couriers before moving up to the second floor. There they found Usama and one of his wives.

His wife reportedly tried to attack one of the SEAL and was shot in the leg. Next, the SEALs shot and killed bin Laden who according to the latest report was not armed.

Now, the entire raid last approximately 38 minutes after which the team exited the compound by helicopter with bin Laden's body.

But now questions are surfacing about the intelligence that led to Usama's capture and just how much of it was gathered through enhanced interrogations that got during the Bush administration.

Joining me now with analysis, the author of "Known and Unknown," former Secretary of Defense, the one and only Donald Rumsfeld is back.

Sir, welcome back to the program, good to see you.


HANNITY: All right. A couple of things. Let's start with the photographs. Panetta saying -- because they got photographs, they got images, they got photographs prior to dumping his body in the sea. My attitude is, why not release all of these pictures and let the public see, let the public decide. Your thoughts?

RUMSFELD: Well, I'm really without conviction on the subject. I suspect that I'd have to see the photographs to know what my opinion was. But I tilt towards releasing them, as you do.

HANNITY: Well, I really can't come up with a justifiable reason why we wouldn't. I mean, Uday and Qusay, that was released, Saddam Hussein's hanging, that was made public. And if you look on Google on the internet, you could see, if you want pictures of former President Kennedy with half his skull missing.

RUMSFELD: Well, those were not released. Those were taken, as I recall the Kennedy photos. In real-time, if I'm not mistaken.


RUMSFELD: In this case, the concern on the part of the Department of Defense, I would think, would be, would the photographs contribute to enraging people in the world and causing recruiting to go up for al Qaeda or causing fundraising to go up for al Qaeda; to see that particular person, the face of al Qaeda terror in a mutilated form.

So, I think that that is undoubtedly what is on their minds. I can't imagine that there would be anything in the photograph that would reveal anything relating to military techniques or sources and methods. So, I think the only possible consideration would be the latter. And I think that's a tough judgment call.

HANNITY: Why would it be a tough judgment call when the report is that we shot him in the head? You know, for example, there was a 40 minute service we are told aboard our aircraft carrier, 40 minutes. And the burial at sea was supposedly to follow Islamic custom. And his body was cleaned, and he was covered with a shroud and there's a 40 minute service. And frankly, the more I think about it, the more inappropriate I think this is, because, you know, the people that died on 9/11, they didn't have a funeral. In many cases we didn't recover their remains.

RUMSFELD: That is quite true. I think however that at least for myself, I think they made exactly the right decision to dispose of the remains at sea and not bring them back to land and create a site where he could be considered a martyr of some sort.

HANNITY: Do you think this fear is somewhat irrational and a little bit misguided that we might incite or enrage, if we release the photo, we might incite, we might enrage if he wasn't given a proper funeral, et cetera, following Islamic custom? Because it seems to me that we are overly concerned about an enemy that's never going to like us any way.

RUMSFELD: Well, you're quite right in terms of al Qaeda. They are not going to like us. They are going to keep doing what they are doing and do it viciously as they have in the past. I think the concern that undoubtedly people in the government are weighing is not what will al Qaeda think, but what will other people think of that faith. And I think they probably are not improperly making judgments that suggest that they would like to avoid causing additional concerns and causing additional people to feel that al Qaeda was mistreated in some way.

I am delighted that he was killed. I am delighted they disposed of his remains at sea. And I think that the questions -- these are side questions on the photos and on the procedures at sea, I'm not really familiar with what they've done, and I haven't seen the photos.

HANNITY: Well, there are many doubters in the Muslim world. The Taliban has said there is no proof of bin Laden's death. There is an explosion of conspiracy theories. Seems to me that –

RUMSFELD: I've heard that.

HANNITY:  -- that they kind of have to do this.
Let me ask you this. I think it is pretty clear now that discovering who this courier was, through strong interrogation techniques, that were employed during the Bush administration, without which this day would never have occurred. So, can't we -- it seems to me we need to reignite this debate about enhancement interrogation techniques in this country. Is that a good idea?

RUMSFELD: I think it's certainly is a reasonable idea. Is it correct that the CIA Director Panetta today indicated that one of the individuals who provided important information had in fact been waterboarded?

HANNITY: Yes. Yes. Yes.

RUMSFELD: Is that correct?


RUMSFELD: Well, that's my understanding. And I think that anyone who suggests that the enhanced techniques, let's be blunt, waterboarding, did not produce an enormous amount of valuable intelligence, just isn't facing the truth. The facts are, General Mike Hayden came in, he had no connection with waterboarding anybody. He looked at all the evidence and concluded that a major fraction of the intelligence in our country on al Qaeda came from individuals, the three, only three people who were waterboarded.

HANNITY: Yes. Well, there were only three people.


HANNITY: And that led to the information of the nickname of the courier. And this by way -- we've had this for years and this was being pursued during the Bush years. The courier's name was found, he was eventually identified, and through eavesdropping, we were able to locate him and then locate bin Laden.

But that brings up the issue of black sites, enhanced interrogation, rendition, all the things we've discussed, we would not have had this success. And these are the very policies, I praised the president yesterday, I think it was a gutsy move that he decided to go in and get him, so we could have identification. But if he had his way and Democrats had its way, we wouldn't have had this intelligence, sir.

RUMSFELD: You are exactly right. I also agree that he made the right decision. And rather than using cruise missiles or drones to attack the facility, I think using the SEAL teams and going in there and actually getting him physically, identifying him, knowing that's what has happened and being certain about it was exactly the right call.

I'm told there was some confusion today on some programs, even one on Fox, I think, suggesting that I indicated that no one was who was waterboarded at Guantanamo, provided any information on this. That's just not true. What I said was, no one was waterboarded at Guantanamo by the U.S. military. In fact, no one was waterboarded at Guantanamo, period. Three people were waterboarded by the CIA, away from Guantanamo and then later brought to Guantanamo. And in fact, as you point out, the information that came from those individuals was critically important.

HANNITY: Last question, does George W. Bush, President Bush deserve as much credit for what happened Sunday as President Obama?

RUMSFELD: Well, the current administration would not have had the kinds of intelligence that was critically important, nor would they have had the Special Forces in the numbers, with the equipment, with the training, with the authorities and with the experience. We increased their budget I think fourfold during the time I was in the Pentagon. We increased the numbers in the special operations people, I believe by about 50 percent. Their equipment has been improved.

Eric Holder's bin Laden Moment
Wall Street Journal
Former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey had appointed Mr. Durham in 2008 as a special prosecutor to look into the CIA's destruction of videotapes made during interrogations of two al Qaeda operatives. That investigation ended without charges last ...See all stories on this topic »

Obama under pressure to hasten Afghanistan withdrawl
By Toby Harnden, Washington 1:15AM BST 05 May 2011 Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leader in the House of Representatives said that the United States was "on a track to come home from Afghanistan" and "change is in the air there, and now it is even more so in ...See all stories on this topic »

Desperate: Right-Wing Media Attack Obama For Taking Time To Consider Bin Laden ...
Media Matters for America
In the latest desperate attempt to criticize President Obama in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, right-wing media are hyping a UK Daily Mail article to attack Obama for taking 16 hours to consider his decision regarding the assault on bin ...See all stories on this topic »

Right-Wing Brother: Osama bin Laden Killing “a Small, Nice Event”
Every family has them, but My Crazy Right Wing Brother is special. AM Radio and Fox News took his brother and molded a perfect zealot. Through careful dialogue, the sane one works to coax him back to reason and moderation. It's a totally pointless ...See all stories on this topic »
Let's be clear, though it will do nothing to dissuade right-wing mythmakers:
Chicago Sun-Times
America's greatest victory in the war on terror, the tracking down and killing of Osama bin Laden, was the culmination of years of painstaking work and shoe-leather sleuthing by the CIA and military intelligence services. ...See all stories on this topic »

Right-Wing Media Tout Bin Laden Death As Victory For Torture, Ignore Dispute
Media Matters for America
In the aftermath of Osama bin Laden's death, numerous right-wing media figures have insisted that the United States would never have found him without information obtained through torture. However, there is considerable dispute among experts over ...See all stories on this topic »

More from The Borowitz Report. I particularly like the last sentence…
May 4, 2011

New Petition Favors Replacing Congress with SEAL Team Six
Elite Unit Gets Post-bin Laden Bounce

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – In a startling measurement of public opinion since the successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden, Americans in record numbers are signing a petition to replace Congress with SEAL Team Six, the elite unit that took out the al-Qaeda madman.

The petition echoes the results of a new poll by the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, in which the Navy SEALS trounce Congress by a lopsided 97% to 2% margin, with the remaining 1% answering, “Superman.”

Professor Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota said that the numbers behind the numbers were even more striking: “By a wide margin, Americans favor SEAL Team Six landing on the Capitol building with helicopters and taking out Congress by force.”

Added Professor Logsdon, “There’s a broad consensus out there that the Navy SEALs get things done, and that they would make C-Span more fun to watch.”

News of the petition and the survey caught the attention of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who issued a strongly worded denial of rumors that SEAL Team Six were practicing maneuvers on a life-size replica of the Capitol building constructed inside an abandoned Linen ‘n’ Things in suburban Virginia.

In other post-bin Laden news, the White House said that they were “no longer concerned” about the American people being grossed out by images of Osama bin Laden: “After all, they’ve been looking at Trump for weeks.”

Elsewhere, in reporting on Bin Laden’s death, Fox News apologized for mispronouncing Barack Obama’s name as “George W. Bush.”

Sign up at

No comments: