As a new book by the man who erased the tapes of 90 CIA interrogations restarts the torture debate, Matthew Alexander — the lead investigator who helped find Zarqawi in Iraq — writes at the Huffington Post about the differences between torture advocates and opponents. Like the fact that the opponents have actually participated in interrogations:
We’ve heard from Marc Thiessen, the former Bush administration speech writer, who argued that torture was moral according to his Catholic values. And then Michael Hayden, the former director of the CIA, who defended the use of so-called Enhanced Interrogation Techniques and used his time at the agency to ensure there would be no accountability for torture. And there’s been a host of media pundits in the pro-torture camp, such as Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh.
And each year the anti-torture advocates offer up whom? Well, they offer up actual interrogators — people who have successfully interrogated terrorists and criminals. Let’s review who is in this camp:
• Eric Maddox, the Army interrogator who found Saddam Hussein (a remarkable story recounted in his bookSearching for Saddam) and has conducted over 3,000 interrogations;
• Jim Clemente, a former FBI serial profiler who was sent to assist interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, and is a first-class expert on criminal behavioral analysis;
• Steve Kleinman, a Colonel in the Reserves and career Air Force Intelligence Officer with vast knowledge on the science of interrogations as well as experience interrogating going back to the invasion of Panama;
• Torin Nelson, an Army civilian interrogator with tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay;
• Ali Soufan, the FBI agent who investigated the USS Cole bombing and successfully interrogated detainees, including Abu Zubaydah;
• Robert McFadden, a former NCIS agent who worked withSoufan;
• Mark Fallon, a former NCIS agent who ran the Criminal Investigative Task Force at Guantanamo Bay;
• Don Borelli, a former FBI agent;
• Stu Herrington, a retired Army Colonel and one the military’s most respected intelligence officers who conducted numerous successful interrogations in Vietnam (see his book Stalking the Vietcong);
• Jack Cloonan, a former FBI agent and Al Qaeda investigator…
And so we embark on another round where those who endorse torture, the men who have never done an interrogation, say it works and the anti-torture advocates, like me, who have successfully interrogated numerous detainees, say it doesn’t and/or it isn’t worth the long term consequences.
He also argues, correctly, that it shouldn’t matter even if it did work:
Well, count me in another group that says I don’t care if it works 100 percent of the time. Chemical weapons work 100 percent of the time and we don’t use those, even though (as the torture advocates assert), they would save lives. Flamethrowers are another weapon that work very effectively and could save lives, especially when clearing houses with suicide bombers, but we don’t use those either. Not because it wouldn’t save lives, but because these weapons cause unnecessary human suffering and the international community, led by the U.S., decided that they weren’t worth the moral cost.
The sad truth is that America is morally bipolar. The country that I signed up to defend with my life has become an endorser of torture, an evader of accountability, and a place where the rule of law is arbitrary, especially for government elites who craft torture programs. The accountability we preach to other countries that is so important for a just society is absent in our own when it comes to torture.
Which is entirely consistent with our country’s behavior from the very start on almost every issue.