But, what if 267 was the lucky number?

Was I the only one to read the New York Times article today on the two al Qaeda members who were waterboarded a total of 266 times by the CIA, and wonder if maybe we would have gotten some really incredible intelligence had we tried it just one more time? I mean, who stops at 267 when the information you’re looking for could be just one torture session away?

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  1. dragon
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    “Where would we be without the agitators of the world attaching the electrodes of knowledge to the nipples of ignorance?”

    The only thing radical about Bush-Cheney statecraft has been the brazenness and crudity with which they have pursued long-standing goals and practices of the American Establishment. While it is certainly true that even a slight mitigation of the Bush Regime’s depredations would be a welcome relief, those who look to any Establishment-embraced Democrat for a wholesale transformation of the arrogant, ignorant and brutal assumptions that have directed the exercise of American power in the world for many decades will likely be in for bitter disappointment.
    And that’s the problem with pretending that the Bush Administration invented torture. “If you don’t understand the history and the depths of the institutional and public complicity,” says McCoy, “then you can’t begin to undertake meaningful reforms.” Lawmakers will respond to pressure by eliminating one small piece of the torture apparatus–closing a prison, shutting down a program, even demanding the resignation of a really bad apple like Rumsfeld. But, “they will preserve the prerogative to torture.”

    The Center for American Progress has just launched an advertising campaign called “Torture is not US.” The hard truth is that for at least five decades it has been. But it doesn’t have to be.

  2. Patrick
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    I agree.
    People think I am a little crazy when I suggest that if Bush and Cheney had allowed themselves to be genuinely waterboarded for oh, say, twenty minutes a piece, and when they came out of that twenty minutes of waterboarding saying that they felt OK about it and that waterboarding was something that the US could do with a clear conscience to somebody, that would essentially be the end of the waterboarding discussion.
    Besides, how long has it been since Pat Leahy was screaming and all indignant in front of the cameras about that Canadian citizen we released to, who was it, Jordan knowing they were going to beat the soles of his Canadian feet and all that shit? Now after Leahy made his show for the cameras, he went on to other things that also didn’t really matter to him.
    It’s a sham, guys. Political leaders all over the world are chickenshit. Our political system is just a game to the people in power. Democrat, Republican, all the same.
    Sorry. That makes it sound like I am angry. I am not angry. Just making an unoriginal, pedestrian, little observation about politics.
    It reminds me of that scene in Lawrence of Arabia with Jose Ferrer. I always liked him. Mark, Ferrer was also good in Columbo. I guess you have seen those, though.

  3. Paw
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Clearly it was still showing results after 100+ sessions with the same person. It’s like pealing an onion. Each session yields a new secret, until you get to the juicy center. If they stopped, it must be because the reached that juicy, intelligence-filled center. That’s probably how we found out where Osama bin Laden is.

  4. Meta
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Footage of a journalist being waterboarded:


  5. Joanne
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    If we had waterboarded 267 al Qaeda leaders, then maybe we would have gotten something substantial and this wouldn’t have been so embarrassing. But instead, we probably waterboarded too many people who didn’t know enough, we didn’t get enough, and we did next to nothing with what we had. Bin Laden is still loose; al Qaeda is growing especially in Afghanistan; and Iraq is shot to hell.

  6. E. G. Penet
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    The debate continues on FOX’s 24 with Jack Bauer.

    Between the script writers and Jack, it wouldn’t have taken him more than three tries to extract the info.

    Pre-24, our government had all it needed to prevent the 9/11 tragedies and they did nothing effective to stop any of it.

    Rather than use the military, we should be using InterPol to fight terrorism and piracy and get the NSA, CIA and the Justice Department out of it.

  7. BornInYtown
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Out of curiosity, is it the excessive use of waterboarding that is so bothersome to most or waterboarding all together? If so, what techniques should be used when trying to gain intel from suspected terrorist?

  8. Patrick
    Posted April 23, 2009 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Born in YTown, I can’t exactly answer your question, but I saw a SERE training expert a Colonel something-or-other on Rachel Maddow last night who said a very simple, sensible thing. He said that before all these enhaced interrogation techniques (that he said do not extract reliable info), the military and the CIA and the FBI had perfectly good interrogation practices that they had been using for decades. The boots on the ground did not call up George Bush asking for harsher techniques or more leeway. They were well trained to do their job. The White House created the techniques to extract what they knew were false statements, namely a link between AlQuaida and Sadam Hussein, before anybody on the ground complained about the restraint that is normally practiced in real professional interrogation.
    Anyway, that is what Maddow’s show was about.
    My personal objection to the initiation of the pracitce of torture by The United States is that the whole thing was put together by a couple of draft dodging, priviledged assholes who have no fucking clue (according to military and CIA guys who should know) about interrogation, terrorism, military, fighting, killing people and all that shit that goes along with the oil wars that rich, territorial people start for fun. Not one of those assholes in the upper eschelon will take responsibility for shit. I love how Bush and Cheney like to think the whole world changed on Sept 11. If you were in a drunken stupor for about fifty years and knew nothing about the real world until Sept 11, then I can see how you might think the whole world had changed. Of course, if you had lived a normal life, worked for a living, maybe read a book or two now and then, visited other places, etc… you might not see things the same way. That’s my deal about the whole thing.

  9. Carol
    Posted April 23, 2009 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Well said, Patrick. 100%.

  10. dragon
    Posted April 23, 2009 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    From the site firedoglake:

    Here’s what Ali Soufan says:

    It is inaccurate, however, to say that Abu Zubaydah had been uncooperative. Along with another F.B.I. agent, and with several C.I.A. officers present, I questioned him from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August. Under traditional interrogation methods, he provided us with important actionable intelligence.

    We discovered, for example, that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Abu Zubaydah also told us about Jose Padilla, the so-called dirty bomber. This experience fit what I had found throughout my counterterrorism career: traditional interrogation techniques are successful in identifying operatives, uncovering plots and saving lives.

    There was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained from regular tactics. [my emphasis]

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