President Barack Obama’s claim that the techniques used by the CIA to question terrorist suspects did not produce valuable information is “patently false,” according to an opinion piece in the Washington Post.
Marc A. Thiessen, a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution who served as chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush, asserts that the “proof” is in the previously classified memos Obama recently made public — even though significant portions are “redacted,” or blacked out.
The memos detail the use of waterboarding — a form of simulated drowning that Attorney General Eric Holder has denounced as torture — as well as sleep deprivation, isolation and physical violence.
Obama said the techniques “did not make us safer.”
But a May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo states that “the CIA believes ‘the intelligence acquired from these interrogations has been a key reason why al-Qaida has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West since 11 September 2001.’”
In one instance, interrogation of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Muhammed “with enhanced techniques” led to the discovery of his plot to crash a hijacked airliner into the Library Tower in Los Angeles, the tallest building on the West Coast.
Interrogation of al-Qaida logistics chief Abu Zubaydah with those techniques produced information about the terrorist organization’s key operatives and its operations in Iraq, a memo discloses.
Thiessen, who served in senior positions in the Pentagon and the White House from 2001 to 2009, writes: “All this confirms information that I and others have described publicly. But just as the memo begins to describe previously undisclosed details of what enhanced interrogations achieved, the page is almost entirely blacked out.
“The Obama administration released pages of unredacted classified information on the techniques used to question captured terrorist leaders but pulled out its black marker when it came to the details of what those interrogations achieved.”
The reason, according to Thiessen: “If the public could see the details of the techniques side by side with evidence that the program saved American lives, the vast majority would support continuing it.”
The memos also note that Muslims are “permitted by Allah” to provide information when interrogated if they feel they have reached the limit of their ability to withstand questioning.
According to the memos, waterboarding was used on Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times, and on Abu Zubaydah 83 times.
“The job of the interrogator is to safely help the terrorist do his duty to Allah, so he then feels liberated to speak freely,” Thiessen observes. “This is the secret to the program’s success. And the Obama administration’s decision to share this secret with the terrorists threatens our national security.”
Thiessen adds that Obama’s decision to release the previously classified documents is ‘one of the most dangerous and irresponsible acts ever by an American president during a time of war.”
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