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Thursday, December 11, 2014

For those with strong stomachs

Pseudo doctor James Mitchell (the man who designed the CIA torture methods and became the first person to commit torture with the approval of, at least, the US National Security Advisor) set up and knocked down a straw man in an interview (which I will not watch because I feel sick and filthy enough after reading the SSCi executive summary).
But Mitchell is largely responsive to Larsen's questions, and perhaps the most striking moment is when he reacts to the intelligence committee's findings that torture had not yielded actionable intelligence. It wasn't supposed to, he says. It was supposed to make detainees more responsive to other questioning. "It's almost like a good cop, bad cop kind of set-up," he says, "with a really bad cop." The point, he says, "was to facilitate getting actionable intelligence by making a bad cop that was bad enough that the person was engage with the good cop," Mitchell continues. "I would be stunned if they found any kind of evidence that EITs, as they were being applied, yielded actionable intelligence."
Mitchell did not respond honestly to the evidence that his torture was ineffective or counter productive. Throughout the executive summary of the SSCI torture report, information obtained before the torture was compared to information obtained during and after the torture. Consider a claim only slightly more absurd, dishonest and irrelevant than Mitchell's. He could just have well have argued that, yes, people didn't give useful answers while being waterboarded, because they could speak no more than they could breath. He absolutely does not address the evidence and made a totally irrelevant argument assuming that viewers would not have read the executive summary. I have read it. There is no evidence that torture caused people to be more cooperative when interrogated *after* the torture. In fact essentially all of the valuable information obtained from Al Qaeda prisoners was obtained before they were tortured, certainly the information most often cited by defenders of the torture program was (this is documented in repetitive meticulous detail in page after page after page of the executive summary). In particular, Rasul Ghul provided key information relevent to finding Osama Bin Laden in the first two days he was interrogated (notably without "enhanced" techniques) then nothing even noted by defenders of the torture program after he was tortured. Mitchell set up and knocked down a straw man. Unsurprisingly he is completely dishonest and pretends to respond to the evidence which he ignores counting on listeners' ignorance. Also his crimes must be prosecuted. Torture of prisoners is almost unique in that the Geneva conventions (which are ratified and therefore US law) do not allow prosecutorial discretion.

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