There are a couple of articles in the news this morning that are bringing cries of ‘See, we told you so’ from the defenders of the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
One is from CNS News, which says that the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed yielded information that prevented a terrorist attack on Los Angeles.
The other is from the New York Times, which contains this quote from a memo sent by national intelligence director Admiral Dennis Blair to his staff:
“High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa’ida organization that was attacking this country.”
Those are headlines you are likely to see from those who seek to justify the use of torture. What you aren’t likely to read in those same places is this quote, also from Admiral Blair, also in the NYT article:
“The information gained from these techniques was valuable in some instances, but there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security.”
So I’ll ask you, should the policy of the United States of America regarding interrogation be ‘whatever it takes?’ Do we adopt the tactics, such as waterboarding, used by Imperial Japan in WWII, tactics which were later prosecuted as war crimes, and which were common in Pol Pot’s Cambodia?
Personally, I’ll side with President Obama, who said this in his remarks to the CIA:
“What makes the United States special, and what makes you special, is precisely the fact that we are willing to uphold our values and ideals even when it’s hard — not just when it’s easy; even when we are afraid and under threat — not just when it’s expedient to do so. That’s what makes us different.”
One more question. If we sink to the level of Osama bin Laden and his followers who seek to do us harm, haven’t they won?