Glistening war dome Eli Lake, late of Bloomberg Politics, just can't stand that hand-wringing Senate report about torture being bad and ineffective. So he turned it upside down and tried to read it all backwards-like, and it turns out torture is super good at helping Americans, maybe, possibly. That'll be $275,000, please!
When Lake takes time out of his busy schedule of massaging mercenaries and contradicting himself, he can squint at the Senate torture report's footnotes just right, and do some supposin' besides, and come up with a take that's so broiling hot and contrarian, Slate may throw him his next six-figure gig: "[T]he Democrats themselves may find that their report on CIA torture inadvertently makes the case that sometimes torture works, as long as it's not the U.S. that's doing the torturing."
The Senate report—and previous investigations of the CIA's torture program—concluded that, contrary to what Team Torture says, "enhanced interrogation techniques" did not lead to the al Qaeda courier who led U.S. troops to Osama bin Laden. Rather, some of the most valuable intelligence on bin Laden's whereabouts came from several captives before U.S. interrogators used waterboarding and rectal hydration, oh and also occasional beating and freezing and some other stuff, to extract information.
But Lake says the earlier intelligence came from the captives while they were in places like Pakistan and Morocco, and they must have been tortured there to obtain that information, because men—top men—told him so:
Take the example of Ammar al-Baluchi. In the movie "Zero Dark Thirty," the torture of al-Baluchi is depicted as revealing the key piece of intelligence identifying Osama bin Laden's courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. In 2011, the CIA was able to find and kill bin Laden because it had tracked the movements of al-Kuwaiti.
The CIA's rebuttal to the Senate report says al-Baluchi gave up much more specific information on al-Kuwaiti after he went through the agency's harsh interrogations. The Senate report, however, says al-Baluchi gave up al-Kuwaiti first to the Pakistanis.
...it's hard to imagine that al-Baluchi's interrogation by the Pakistanis met Geneva standards.
Hard to imagine... but how hard to confirm? An anonymous retired Pakistani diplomat tells Lake that al-Baluchi and other detainees were probably tortured in Pakistan. But he doesn't know the specifics. The captive's Guantanamo Bay lawyer "[could not] confirm or deny" to Lake that al-Baluchi was tortured in Pakistan. But he doesn't know the specifics. (Chrissake, does al-Baluchi say that he was tortured in Pakistan? If not, you gotta wonder about Lake's suppositional argument here.)
But who needs specifics when you have generalities from a general in the Bush administration's "war on terror"?
Other current and former U.S. intelligence officials told me that it was almost a certainty that al-Baluchi was at the very least threatened with torture when he was in a Pakistani jail.
"If this was someone first picked up by a liaison service, I don't know if we would always have much insight into how they were treated or more importantly, how they might have expected to be treated," said Michael Hayden, the CIA director at the end of the George W. Bush presidency who has taken to the news media this week to defend the CIA's interrogations.
sdfvsdfvaouyhbnasdkansdcad. Seriously, sdfvsdfvaouyhbnasdkansdcad.
The overall point Lake and Hayden seem interested in making is that the Senate pooh-poohs torture but cites intel from people we caught and gave to other nations with fewer human rights qualms. It is an extension of the dirty hands thesis. See? It's a dirty world, and we gotta get our hands dirty to keep our nation clean. So don't judge these dirty hands. You can't handle the truth. Men on walls. Yadda yadda. Other men, we mean.
Fatuous Beltway heffalumps are able to get their rocks off on this sort of soiree sophistry, this Axis & Allies boardgame bullshit approach to the world, precisely because so-called liberals have left the door open to torture being okay if it produces "results." Never mind that we've gone all fuzzy when we discuss "results"—now, we mean not the saving of thousands of Americans from a specific imminent deadly attack, but information that enables the eventual double-tapping of a sad old semiretired shithead of a murderous jihadi who'd been reduced to pacing his concrete compound, a decade past his caliphate-dreaming heyday, and sitting on the floor to watch TV reruns like the rest of us schlubs.
But assuming that torture's categorically not okay—assuming that fighting for American values means nothing if you rationalize the very sort of un-American brutality that our enemies point to as evidence of our decadence and depravity—then our society is owed something we lost to these glib junior varsity cheerleaders for Team Forcibly Shoving Liquefied Food Up a Prisoner's Butt For a Decade.