Former POW, and the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, says the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” – aka TORTURE – were not a factor in the discovery of Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts and he condemned the use of any form of torture.
In a speech on the Senate floor, John McCain said waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques are not necessary in any kind of interrogation conducted by United States personnel.
“It was not torture, or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees that got us the major leads that ultimately enabled our intelligence community to find Osama bin Laden,” he said.
The former Presidential candidate said former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey was wrong when he claimed harsh interrogation had led to bin Laden. McCain said he had spoken to CIA Director Leon Panetta and got “the facts” on what really led to bin Laden’s demise. And guess what? The facts contradicted Mukasey’s claim.
“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.”
McCain, prisoner of war for five and a half years in North Vietnam, said the U.S. should not compromise its deepest values by using torture.
It’s gratifying to see someone as senior and experienced as John McCain speaking out on torture, and how it has no place in interrogation used by the United States. Hopefully this will to silence those on the far right who think it’s perfectly OK for our country to violate international law, and our own laws. But, that’s probably just wishful thinking.