Must we witness Dick Cheney both waste away and profess his love for torture?

Must we be subjected to the ugly and the uglier? Must we watch a cruel politician die before our eyes? Must we sit there somberly while he, bankrupted of vitality, makes a desperate case — again — for torture?

I don’t remember any of this in the job description. I thought this gig would subject me to mostly whimsy and snark-chuckles, not to watching horrifically the final media spasms of a ghoul’s ghoul.

Having borrowed one of David Byrne’s suits, the disappearing man appears on Fox to champion torture:

“We went to a lot of trouble to find out what we could do, how far we could go, what was legal and so forth. Out of that emerged what we called enhanced interrogation. It worked. It provided some absolutely vital pieces of intelligence. There is a study that was done by the CIA in the National Archives, some of it has been declassified now, that shows that enhanced interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed provided a vast treasure trove if you will of intelligence. It was a good program. It was a legal program. It was not torture. I would strongly recommend we continue it.”

Ever the politician, he doesn’t say what intelligence was gleaned by which method. And no one can say what we could have known had we not tortured Mohammed. And thus we get the thoroughly bullshit argument of “We tortured KSM, he told us stuff, we win, you lose.”

Under no circumstances, in no way conceivable, is that an argument for torture. You want to convince me it works as well as you say? Show me torture got you information that no other method could have. Then show me torture didn’t cause your detainee to resist giving up intelligence.

Simple as that. And you can’t do it.

Two thieves compare notes: both corner their victims in dark alleys and demand the money in their pockets. One says to the other, “I tell them, ‘I don’t want to hurt you,’ and then I pull a knife.” The other says, “I just kick them in the stomach and tell them to hand me everything they’ve got. That’s why I make more money than you.” He has no idea if it’s true.

Peter King doesn’t care, he never does:

“The first indication that he [courier] (al-Kuwaiti) was close to bin Laden and was a serious player came from (September 11 architect) Khalid Sheik Mohammed, right after he was waterboarded. Before that, KSM basically gave up nothing. After he was waterboarded, KSM gave an answer on the courier. This put the courier on the map. That was the first time they saw that he was close to bin Laden. That was in 2003 . .”

This is rank bullshit. King is telling us the exact opposite of the truth, it’s shameless lying.

[T]here are two points that seem key in assessing the torture question. First, both KSM and al-Libi had critical intelligence they withheld under torture. KSM knew of Abu Ahmed’s trusted role and real name . .

They waterboarded KSM 183 times in a month, and he either never got asked about couriers guarding OBL, or he avoided answering the question honestly. Had KSM revealed that detail, Bush might have gotten OBL 8 years ago.

And just as importantly, the whole time KSM was shielding Abu Ahmed’s true identity while being waterboarded, KSM was also lying to the CIA about where OBL was.


Mohammed did not discuss al-Kuwaiti while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He acknowledged knowing him many months later during standard interrogations.

So neither Cheney’s wink-wink at productive torture via KSM nor King’s flat-out assertion that torture got KSM to divulge the courier’s identity is true. They’re not even close to being true, they’re pure propaganda.

Ah, but it gets better:

In fact, two of the most high-value detainees — KSM and bin Laden chief operations man Abu Faraj al-Libi — actually lied about the important courier when asked about him.

They were dismissive about his importance, and didn’t identify him beyond the nickname the CIA already knew. The key here: The CIA already knew that the courier had been a KSM protégé.

“It was their lies that alerted us,” said one senior administration official with knowledge of the operation. All in all, Mohammed had been waterboarded 183 times — and he still lied. “The help that KSM provided was inadvertent,” this source said. “He didn’t know what we knew.”

Al-Libi was subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques, KSM was tortured . . and they both lied. The fact that they misled their captors while or after being tortured was critical to understanding how important the courier really was. You cannot make that key assessment while you think torture actually works. Case closed.