McCain: Torture Didn't Get Us Bin Laden, and It Would Be Wrong Anyway
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who opposes torture and waterboarding for reasons that are not hard to divine, wades into the factual debate over whether torture led to Osama Bin Laden's demise. Excerpt from his Washington Post op-ed:
Former attorney general Michael Mukasey recently claimed that "the intelligence that led to bin Laden…began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. He loosed a torrent of information — including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden." That is false.
I asked CIA Director Leon Panetta for the facts, and he told me the following: The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. The first mention of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — the nickname of the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately led us to bin Laden — as well as a description of him as an important member of al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country, who we believe was not tortured. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed's real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al-Qaeda.
In fact, the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on Khalid Sheik Mohammed produced false and misleading information. He specifically told his interrogators that Abu Ahmed had moved to Peshawar, got married and ceased his role as an al-Qaeda facilitator — none of which was true. According to the staff of the Senate intelligence committee, the best intelligence gained from a CIA detainee — information describing Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti's real role in al-Qaeda and his true relationship to bin Laden — was obtained through standard, noncoercive means.
I do not often agree with the senator, but at the risk of alienating another damn dirty RINO from libertarianism, I endorse McCain's conclusion:
As we debate how the United States can best influence the course of the Arab Spring, can't we all agree that the most obvious thing we can do is stand as an example of a nation that holds an individual's human rights as superior to the will of the majority or the wishes of government? […]
Ultimately, this is more than a utilitarian debate. This is a moral debate. It is about who we are. […]
What I do mourn is what we lose when by official policy or official neglect we confuse or encourage those who fight this war for us to forget that best sense of ourselves.
Reason on torture here.