Torturing the Death out of Them: Ours

Al-Qaida detainee recants claims, The New York Times 7/31/04

A senior leader of al-Qaida was the main source for intelligence…that Iraq had provided training in chemical and biological weapons to members of the organization….
Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a member of Osama bin Laden’s inner circle, recanted the claims sometime last year, …. about links between Iraq and al-Qaida that involved poisons, gases and other illicit weapons.

Let’s make the most charitable assumption about the When-Did-They-Know-It of this recantation, i.e., they still believed his original story at the time they went to war.
Now this was a paradigm case of an ultra-secret interrogation of terrorists that “could save American lives,” hence it was an interrogation that would justify use of the “harshest” of methods. And let’s suppose our hard-headed realpolitic leaders squared their jaws and used them.
Then what we tortured out of this man not only failed to save lives, it helped cause thousands of deaths in our global-vigilante military adventure.






2 responses to “Torturing the Death out of Them: Ours”

  1. Kelly Higgins Avatar

    Torture is about as reliable a source of intelligence as divination. Now, if you torture the oracle….

  2. David Kolodney Avatar
    David Kolodney

    Now that you mention it, this reminds me of a story that was a favorite among the classical Greeks, about the dangers of getting pushy with an oracle.
    King Croesus of Lydia (yes, the one who was “Rich as Croesus”) came to Delphi, bearing gifts for Apollo (whose oracle it was). After unpacking the offerings the Lydians asked the oracle if Croesus should attack the Persians. The oracle said “If Croesus attacks the Persians… he will destroy a great empire!”
    Croesus attacked the Persians, believing the prophecy was favorable, but he was defeated. The great empire destroyed was his own.
    Maybe his intelligence advisors told him he’d be welcomed with flowers!
    [I’ve lifted this version from:]