Friday, November 11


In the face of all the evidence that indicates that torture of prisoners is injurious to our image and values, is an ineffective and even counterproductive interrogation technique, and damages those who inflict it as well as their victims, what can we conclude about Dick Cheney's continued support of it? I guess he just likes the fantasy of himself as James Bond, or maybe he just gets off on the control thing. Either way, it says an awful lot about the character of the man...and it bears a marked resemblance to sadism.

Robert Baer, a former CIA covert officer who worked in Iraq and elsewhere, said he recently spent time in an Israeli prison, talking with detainees from the radical Palestinian groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas for a British documentary about suicide bombers.

The Israelis, Baer said, have learned that they can gain valuable information by establishing personal relationships with the inmates and gaining their trust.

"They found that torture, abusive tactics, made things overall worse for them politically," Baer said. "The Israelis are friendly with their prisoners. They play cards with them and allow them to contact their families. They are getting in their minds to determine what makes up a suicide bomber."
But intelligence officers said that torture, or tactics just short of it, rarely produced good information, and were more likely to produce bad information.

Vincent Cannistraro, a former chief of operations and analysis in the CIA Counterterrorist Center, said detainees would say virtually anything to end their torment.

Baer agreed, citing intelligence reports from Arab security services that yielded useless information. "The Saudis and Egyptians torture people all the time, but I have yet to see anything that helped us on the jihad movement and (Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al) Zawahri," he said.

Ibn Sheikh al Libi, an al-Qaida training camp commander who was captured, was a principal source of the Bush administration's prewar claim that Iraq had provided chemical weapons training to bin Laden's network. He was subjected to aggressive interrogation techniques - and the information on Iraq and al-Qaida turned out to have been invented.

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