Many of those bogus orange alerts that inconvenienced and alarmed travelers since 9/11 had an unsavory source: torture. The Bush Administration, with the tacit support of Congressional leaders of both political parties, tortured terrorists and other detainees into confessing imaginary plots. (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.), who recently called for an investigation of the Bush Administration, herself knew of the torture for years, having received over 30 intelligence briefings, and Congress knowingly funded the precise programs that practiced torture).
“When CIA officials subjected their first high-value captive, Abu Zubaida, to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods, they were convinced that they had in their custody an al-Qaeda leader . . .The methods succeeded in breaking him, and the stories he told of al-Qaeda terrorism plots sent CIA officers around the globe chasing leads.
In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida’s tortured confessions. . .Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.” And it turns out that “Abu Zubaida was not even an official member of al-Qaeda.”
All of this waste of money and resources could have been avoided simply by following our country’s obligation, under treaties like the Convention Against Torture, not to subject detainees to torture or inhuman treatment.
(By torture, I do not mean long-term confinement. I repeatedly criticized the Bush Administration’s use of torture. But interning enemy combatants at places like Guantanamo — where little if any of the torture occurred — violates no international obligations. The ceaseless romanticizing of the Guantanamo detainees, many of whom are dangerous terrorists who need to be kept confined to prevent future attacks, is downright annoying.)