Former FBI Agent: Torture Sucks. Don’t Do It.
Posted by David Rittgers
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings produced an ugly picture of the role torture played in interrogating Al Qaeda leaders. The testimony of former FBI agent Ali Soufan shows how traditional intelligence techniques worked on Abu Zubaydah and “enhanced” techniques did nothing to advance national security interests:Immediately after Abu Zubaydah was captured, a fellow FBI agent and I were flown to meet him at an undisclosed location. We were both very familiar with Abu Zubaydah and have successfully interrogated al-Qaeda terrorists. We started interrogating him, supported by CIA officials who were stationed at the location, and within the first hour of the interrogation, using the Informed Interrogation Approach, we gained important actionable intelligence.Soufan then recounts a tug-of-war between the interrogators and the contractors brought in to apply the third degree. The intelligence and law enforcement professionals struggled to reestablish rapport with Zubaydah after each iteration of harsh interrogation tactics.
We were once again very successful and elicited information regarding the role of KSM as the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and lots of other information that remains classified. (It is important to remember that before this we had no idea of KSM’s role in 9/11 or his importance in the al Qaeda leadership structure.)The new techniques did not produce results as Abu Zubaydah shut down and stopped talking. At that time nudity and low-level sleep deprivation (between 24 and 48 hours) was being used. After a few days of getting no information, and after repeated inquiries from DC asking why all of sudden no information was being transmitted (when before there had been a steady stream), we again were given control of the interrogation.The enhanced interrogation techniques were not only inferior to traditional interrogation techniques, they proved counterproductive. The use of illegal techniques resurrected the “wall” between the CIA and the FBI with regard to these detainees. This prevented FBI experts who knew more about Al Qaeda than anyone else in the government from questioning them. Plus, as Soufan recounts, coercive techniques make detainees tell you what you want to hear, whether it is true or not. As Jesse Ventura says, “you give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney, and one hour, and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.”
We then returned to using the Informed Interrogation Approach. Within a few hours, Abu Zubaydah again started talking and gave us important actionable intelligence.
Torture did not advance the work of picking apart Al Qaeda, it disrupted it.
Monday, May 18, 2009
From the Horse's Mouth
Despite Dick Cheney's claim that torture gives "actionable" intelligence, here's the word directly from the FBI interrogator who did get useful intelligence from Abu Zubaydah. Why do I believe the following? It is from a right wing website, the Cato Institue. I have no love for the Cato Institute, they push a right wing agneda. These are the nut cases who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Bush administration. But at least they have now broken ranks over torture. Maybe there is some hope that the idiot policies of the Bush years will finally be abandoned and reason and intelligence will once again guide US policy and action: