The Bush administration has long justified its use of torture by claiming that it obtained valuable information from torturing 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Late last year, former Vice President Dick Cheney said, “Did it produce the desire results? I think it did.” He explained:
I think, for example, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was the number three man in al Qaeda, the man who planned the attacks of 9/11, provided us with a wealth of information.
But according to documents released by the Obama administration in response to a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, Cheney was lying. Mohammed told U.S. military officials that he gave false information to the CIA after withstanding torture:
“I make up stories,” Mohammed said, describing in broken English an interrogation probably administered by the CIA that concerned the location of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
“Where is he? I don’t know. Then he torture me,” Mohammed said. “Then I said, ‘Yes, he is in this area.’”
The torture of Mohammed, who we know was waterboarded 183 times in one month, “underscores the unreliability of statements obtained by torture.”
In an interview with Fox News’ Brit Hume earlier this year, President Bush admitted that he personally authorized the torture of Mohammed. He said he personally asked “what tools” were available to use on him, and sought legal approval for waterboarding him:
BUSH: One such person who gave us information was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. … And I’m in the Oval Office and I am told that we have captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the professionals believe he has information necessary to secure the country. So I ask what tools are available for us to find information from him and they gave me a list of tools, and I said are these tools deemed to be legal? And so we got legal opinions before any decision was made.
The documents released by the Obama administration today were heavily redacted. Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project, said, “The Obama administration should make good on its commitment to transparency, stop suppressing information about torture and abuse and hold accountable the officials who put unlawful policies in place.”