Monday, December 10, 2007

Abu Zubaydah and Waterboarding

Waterboarding’s been back in the news this week because the CIA revealed that it videotaped some of its “extreme” interrogation techniques then destroyed the videotapes two years later. Leave it to ABC to come forward with a former CIA officer who confirms that they did waterboard (essentially convincing suspects they will drown until they mentally break down), but that it also produced useful information. I went to watch the video then noticed that the name of the suspect was Zubaydah, one of at least three different men who were killed or captured and identified as Al Qaeda’s number three in command. The CIA officer, Kiriakou, insists that Zubaydah, once tortured, gave up critical information.

Ron Suskind’s book, The One Percent Doctrine, strongly suggests otherwise. Suskind portrays Abu Zubaydah role with Al Qaeda as more logistical than strategic. He also claimed that Zubaydah suffered from a combination of head injuries and mental illness. The President has insisted that Zubaydah was a major capture who helped lead American intellegence to Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the chief planner of 9/11.

I strongly recommend a look at Suskind’s book or at least the wikipedia article on the controversy. Why’s it matter? The CIA might not have destroyed the tape to hide the fact that they waterboarded Zubaydah, that’s something that no one really debates. The tapes might have been destroyed because they would tell the real story of the agency torturing a mentally ill man who possibly gave up information of only limited value and significance. In that light this “non-revelation” through ABC is especially interesting. If you watch it closely, it’s really being used to support the argument that torture can be an effective interrogation technique.

My question is simple. Now that the tapes have been destroyed, isn’t it interesting that we can’t make any kind of judgment about that now?

youtube link



At 12/11/2007 08:27:00 AM, Blogger None said...

Destroyed tapes.. gosh.. I wonder what could have been on those. You make a great point CL. The discussion should not have to stop because the tapes are destroyed. Although, there will be some investigations dragging the issue back into the spotlight.

On the matter of torture.. I was listening to a formerly convicted felon. He confessed to a murder. Then had the nerve to claim he was innocent. Turns out.. after 17 years (or something).. he was innocent. In other words, I'm not even sure about the "confessions" we get from criminals in our justice system here. Do we really have to waterboard people to make them say crazy things? I dont think so.

At 12/11/2007 09:44:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

confession isn't as dependable as we think, neither is eye witness testimony.

The Suskind book came out 2 years ago and included the allegation that Zubaydah had been water boarded. No one's really disputed that. As I said, I suspect the tapes were destroyed not because the CIA wanted to destroy evidence of torture, but because it wanted to destroy proof that the evidence that came from extreme interrogation is of such low quality. IF the latter's the case, it pretty much ends the argument.

At 12/14/2007 08:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having almost drown when I was a child, I can tell you it is torture to think you're drowning. It is so elementally horrible and molecularly desperate that you cannot imagine the degree of powerless horror unless it's happened to you.

I think anyone who claims that simulated drowning is an acceptable human action upon another person should be willing to have it performed on them to prove that they believe what they say.

At 12/17/2007 03:35:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

There's that and there's the quite real possibility that it doesn't even get quality information from prisoners/suspects.

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