Yesterday, the Obama administration released four Bush-era memos that provide legal justifications for the use of torture on al-Qaeda suspects. “We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history,” President Obama said in a statement on the memos. “The United States is a nation of laws…that is why we have taken steps to ensure that the actions described within [the memos] never take place again.”
As if on cue, Fox News hosts and personalities attacked Obama for releasing the memos while at the same time, defended the use of torture. “It’s not a dark chapter in our history. It’s a successful one,” Charles Krauthammer proclaimed. Conceding that waterboarding is torture, Krauthammer said that it should be used anyway in the so-called “ticking time-bomb” scenario and against “high-level al-Qaeda.” Many of his Fox colleagues have since piled on:
BILL KRISTOL: This is a pander to the left. I think it’s really pathetic for an American president to do that, and to disavow, in effect, the good faith efforts of a previous administration to protect us in ways that I think were entirely appropriate.
MEGYN KELLY: Will the release of these documents hurt our troops on the ground now, or could they put our national security in jeopardy?
GRETCHEN CARLSON: You don’t go into these techniques just willy-nilly. … There was a reason behind all of this. There was a philosophy in the way that they handled these things.
The Fox and Friends had fun with the release this morning as well. Steve Doocy claimed that torture “worked” and “saved lives.” Watch a compilation:
The so-called “ticking time-bomb” scenario Krauthammer cites is a canard. In fact, one former FBI agent who has interrogated terrorists said it has never happened. It’s a “red herring,” he said. “In the real world it doesn’t happen.” And torture doesn’t “protect” anyone, as Kristol claimed. In fact, it has been directly linked to increased casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, as the interrogator who got Abu Musab al-Zarqawi noted:
It’s no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
Moreover, torture doesn’t “work.” The Washington Post reported that “not a single significant plot was foiled as a result” of the torture of Abu Zubaydah and that any useful information he had “was obtained before waterboarding was introduced.” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, another detainee known to have been waterboarded, “produced no actionable intelligence,” according to a former CIA official.