Last night on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) ardently defended the Bush administration’s torture policy, echoing Vice President Cheney’s claim that torture yielded life-saving results. He pointed to waterboarding Abu Zubayda and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was remarkably successful. “After this procedure,” Duncan said, “we got enormously valuable information that saved American lives.” Watch it:
Despite Hunter’s claims, the torture of Abu Zubayda and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed provided next to zero useful intelligence, as a recent Vanity Fair article revealed:
But according to a former senior C.I.A. official, who read all the interrogation reports on K.S.M., “90 percent of it was total f*cking bullsh*t.” A former Pentagon analyst adds: “K.S.M. produced no actionable intelligence. He was trying to tell us how stupid we were.”
In fact, the article explained that the “intelligence” gleaned from Zubayda was false information about non-existent links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein — information the Bush administration seized on as a major part of its argument for the Iraq war, as a former Pentagon analyst explained:
“The intelligence community was lapping this up, and so was the administration, obviously. Abu Zubaydah was saying Iraq and al-Qaeda had an operational relationship. It was everything the administration hoped it would be.” [...]
“The White House knew he’d been tortured. I didn’t, though I was supposed to be evaluating that intelligence. … It seems to me they were using torture to achieve a political objective.”
Rather than “saving American lives,” torturing Zubayda provided false intelligence that led to a catastrophic war that killed more than 4,000 Americans. What’s more, as former interrogators and military officials have said, torture has directly led to the deaths of thousands of American soldiers through its use as an effective recruiting tool for al Qaeda and insurgents.
David Rose, the author of the Vanity Fair article, told Rachel Maddow last night that the counterrorism experts he interviewed “are unanimous in saying they got much better information from regular, legal, constitutional methods, rapport building, developing a relationship with the source. That way, they got really good information.”