Has Attorney General Eric Holder crippled the CIA’s ability to thwart terrorism by launching a probe into whether crimes were committed by the agency’s interrogators?
The answer to that may be a frightening ‘yes,’ according to Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA officer and a leading intelligence analyst. Writing in The Wall Street Journal,. Gerecht concludes that there is plenty of evidence to suggest that “enhanced interrogation” works in enough cases to be productive.
“Regardless of whether one believes CIA-inflicted waterboarding, sleep deprivation or severe psychological coercion (suggesting that harm could come to a family member of a taciturn al Qaeda detainee) constitute torture, such actions may have produced an intelligence bonanza and saved thousands of lives,” Gerecht writes. “The released and heavily redacted 2004 CIA Inspector General's report on interrogations doesn't make a crystal clear case in favor of enhanced interrogation, but it certainly does suggest—and one has the distinct impression that the Inspector General was personally inclined against the rough treatment—that senior officers in the Directorate of Operations consistently found the interrogations to be valuable in collecting critical information against some members of al Qaeda, especially Mr. (9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik) Mohammed.”
Gerecht concedes that we may never know if nicer, more seductive tactics would have worked, but that’s beside the point. Mohammed did give up key information and now actually lectures officers on al-Qaida theories and practice. Gerecht is calling for the release of the 3,000 intelligence reports produced between Sept. 11 and April 2003 from the CIA's "high value detainees.”
“Until these reports are made public, or at a minimum the detailed and regular agency assessments of the reports' value are released, we on the outside cannot better assess whether enhanced interrogation techniques worked,” Gerecht writes. “Mr. Obama has certainly set the stage for an enormous row that could well consume much of the energy of his administration if the special prosecutor brings charges against any CIA official for the way he interrogated an al Qaeda terrorist with 9/11 blood on his hands.”