In the wake of the release of the OLC torture memos, right-wing torture supporters have been insisting all over cable that torture works. For example, torture supporters Marc Thiessen and Cliff May:
MARC THIESSEN on FOX: The dirty little secret of this [“enhanced interrogation”] program is it worked. It stopped the next terrorist attack… This whole thing is dozens and dozens of unredacted information about the techniques. And then all of a sudden you get to the point where they start talking about the results of the techniques and guess what? They pull out their black little pen and this is what’s there [holds up redacted page.] What is behind here, Mr. President, is what I want to know. What is behind here is proof that the terrorist interrogation program stopped the next 9/11.
CLIFF MAY on MSNBC: We have real world experience. If you think that some hardened terrorist will talk to you because you ask him nicely, and you don’t think that coercive interrogations ever work, you don’t know the evidence.
To listen to Thiessen and May’s claims about “evidence” about torture’s effectiveness, you might think that evidence about torture’s effectiveness actually exists. It does not. While actionable intelligence was obtained from terror detainees such as Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and Abu Zubaydah, this intelligence was obtained before they were tortured. There is no evidence that any actionable intelligence has been produced by torturing terror detainees, which is why Marc Thiessen is reduced to insisting that evidence of torture’s effectiveness must be what was redacted.
As military interrogator Matthew Alexander wrote last November, not only doesn’t torture work, it actually makes Americans less safe. “The No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked [to Iraq] to fight,” wrote Alexander, “were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.”
Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. 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. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me — unless you don’t count American soldiers as Americans.
So, on one side you’ve got a couple of right-wing hacks who insist — based on unseen evidence — that torture works, and on the other you’ve got an actual military interrogator who insists — based his own first-hand experience — that it doesn’t. This isn’t really a tough one.