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In the debate over America’s war on terror policy, the argument against enhanced interrogation techniques is two-fold: the practices are constitutionally and morally abhorrent to any freedom-loving American, and they don’t even work in the first place.
The release this week of some important CIA documents invalidates the second concern. As it turns out, techniques like waterboarding were effective in extracting information about terrorists. Who knew (besides Dick Cheney, that is)?
According to the report, the three terrorists the CIA used waterboarding (among other EITs) on gave up valuable information on names and locations. The self-effacing CIA is reluctant to give sole attribution to waterboarding on the breaking of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Nashiri, though the report points out that after using the waterboard, Zubaydah “appeared to be cooperative” and al-Nashiri began providing new information rather than outdated, well-known intelligence.
But with the third terrorist, Kalid Sheikh Mohammed—the “principal architect of the 9/11 attacks—the CIA report shows waterboarding was most certainly effective. According to the report:
“He provided information that helped lead to the arrests of terrorists including Sayfullah Paracha and his son Uzair Paracha, businessmen who Khalid Shaykh Muhammad planned to use to smuggle explosives into the United States; Saleh Almari, a sleeper operative in New York; and Majid Khan, an operative who could enter the United States easily and was tasked to research attacks [redacted]. Khalid Shaykh Muhammad’s information also led to the investigation and prosecution of Iyman Faris, the truck driver arrested in early 2003 in Ohio.
The report confirms that our government was went as far as they had to in order find several bad guys who wanted to do harm to America. What it also confirms is that the anti-Bush, anti-EIT crowd has lost the most convincing part of its argument. While academic and media elites may genuinely object to enhanced interrogation on philosophical grounds, they most certainly lose the average American when anecdotal evidence proves the techniques stopped potential attacks. In a not-entirely unrelated poll, Rasmussen reports that support for closing Guantanamo Bay, the site of many of these enhanced interrogations, has been “steadily eroding” and is now at an all-time low of 32 percent.
So with these hits to cornerstones of Obama’s terror policy — political winners none of them — it is small wonder that the president is continuing one of Bush’s most reviled interrogation policies: rendition of terror suspects to other nations and their intelligence officers. The State Department claims there will be a renewed emphasis on making sure the renditioned suspects aren’t tortured, but the program’s revival is a major defeat for liberal grassroots who used the policy to chip away at the Bush White House’s credibility.
Either President Obama has awoken to the reality of anti-West Muslim extremism and the efficacy of policies and procedures designed to protect America, or he at least realizes most Americans put their safety above the civil rights of a tiny number of bloodthirsty terrorists. As I pointed out in a column last spring, our culture reflects this second truth; let’s hope our government is getting the message.
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