Contradicting Obama's DNI, FBI Interrogator Says Torture Was Ineffective

Obama Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said:

High value information came from interrogations in which [torture] w[as] used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa’ida organization that was attacking this country[.]

In the New York Times today, an FBI interrogator involved in the interrogations, flatly contradicts Blair:

One of the most striking parts of the memos is the false premises on which they are based. The first, dated August 2002, grants authorization to use harsh interrogation techniques on a high-ranking terrorist, Abu Zubaydah, on the grounds that previous methods hadn’t been working. The next three memos cite the successes of those methods as a justification for their continued use.

. . . There was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques [read torture] on Abu Zubaydah that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained from regular tactics. In addition, I saw that using these alternative methods on other terrorists backfired on more than a few occasions — all of which are still classified. The short sightedness behind the use of these techniques ignored the unreliability of the methods, the nature of the threat, the mentality and modus operandi of the terrorists, and due process.

Defenders of these techniques have claimed that they got Abu Zubaydah to give up information leading to the capture of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a top aide to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and Mr. Padilla. This is false. The information that led to Mr. Shibh’s capture came primarily from a different terrorist operative who was interviewed using traditional methods. As for Mr. Padilla, the dates just don’t add up: the harsh techniques were approved in the memo of August 2002, Mr. Padilla had been arrested that May.

One of the worst consequences of the use of these harsh techniques was that it reintroduced the so-called Chinese wall between the C.I.A. and F.B.I., similar to the communications obstacles that prevented us from working together to stop the 9/11 attacks. Because the bureau would not employ these problematic techniques, our agents who knew the most about the terrorists could have no part in the investigation. An F.B.I. colleague of mine who knew more about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed than anyone in the government was not allowed to speak to him.

Dennis Blair is unfit for the office of Director of National Intelligence. He should resign. Of course he will not and he will continue to cast a pall over attempts to know the truth about the dark period of torture in America.

Speaking for me only

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    The Bushies (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by lilburro on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:29:43 AM EST
    lied and lied about Zubaydah.  At this point, if you want to say that torture yielded anything at all, you need to back it up.  Because apparently, one of the greatest examples of torture's "effectiveness" was all a lie.

    Tell it to Dennis Blair (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:30:40 AM EST
    AWhitneyBrown (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:34:22 AM EST
    gives a compelling response to all of this discussion about "effectiveness."

    And if by high-value (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by lilburro on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:40:53 AM EST
    you mean "ticking time bomb" stuff, BarbinMD shoots a hole right through that argument here.

    The wheels are really falling off the Bushco bus.

    It doesn't start with Blair (5.00 / 5) (#5)
    by Dadler on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:45:09 AM EST
    It's Obama's failure to lay down a solid and unwavering set of principles.  It's his failure to be a real leader on the issue.  Obama could demand Blair's resignation, but won't because, one has to assume, he is fine and dandy with all the ambiguity and contradiction because, one has to assume again, he is afraid to take on the Republicans with this issue for fear of being called weak, a terrorist coddler, you name it, all the crap that usually flies.  

    Fair point (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:45:47 AM EST
    Wake up (1.00 / 0) (#12)
    by Iamme on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 04:31:28 PM EST
    There are close to 3000 people who will never recover.  They are dead.  

    Lets see waterboardings or beheadings?  waterboardings or kidnappings?  waterboardings or destruction of schools.  

    These are the people we are trying to stop.  I wonder if a Democrat and Republican were standing side by side and a terrorist pointed his AK at them would the terrorist not kill the one that said look we told them torture was bad we are moral.  NO he would kill them both because they are Americans.  They dont understand anything but overwhelming force.  Whatever techniques brutal or not should be used to stop these nutjobs.

    Imagine that....it was contractors (none / 0) (#7)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 12:27:46 PM EST
    who requested the torture and not CIA officers.  I swear to God I had not read this when I was stating my opinion of contracting out our dirty work and the lack of conscience when you have no skin in the game.

    Doesn't this rebut (none / 0) (#8)
    by Steve M on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 12:36:54 PM EST
    the claim that these techniques were only employed against three "high-value" individuals?  Or is the claim merely that waterboarding, as opposed to other techniques, was employed against only three individuals?

    Torturing innocent people (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by MKS on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 02:01:38 PM EST
    ultimately happens with a torture policy.  

    We have innocent people on Death Row--and yet the conservatives assume that only the worst of the worst of Al Qaeda are being tortured....

    If torturing the guilty is wrong (and it is), how much more heinous is it if the innocent are tortured.


    There are accounts from people (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 04:19:47 PM EST
    who have been released coming out that seem to indicate that there were lots more "techniques" than were discussed in those particular memos.  There are missing tapes and reports.  It will be difficult to figure out at this point what the scope of this program was.  But I don't know if it really matters.  Both "walling" and hanging people from the ceiling and depriving them from sleep can cause brain damage over time.  Maybe not whip lash the way they did it - but if you're head is being pounded against something - even something somewhat cushioned - you're losing brain cells every time.

    Oh and water boarding will also cause brain damage because the brain is deprived of oxygen.  The torture is why Padilla was described by his lawyers as being like a piece of furniture - it isn't just that his spirit is broken - his brain is now totally messed up and won't recover.


    I believe it was that waterboarding (none / 0) (#9)
    by coast on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 12:41:55 PM EST
    was only used on the three.