Blog of Rights

Tenet Riposte

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 6:06pm
I'm loving the Tenet book tour. But, in case you hadn't heard, At The Center of the Storm apparently confirms that the CIA used the "most aggressive" interrogation tactics possible against high level terrorist suspects, which, Tenet claims, produced quite valuable intel (he also "writes defensively" about the NSA spying program, but that's a different thread). In any event, I may have been overly glib this morning when writing about Senator John McCain's appearance on Fox News Sunday, where he was asked directly about Tenet's torture claims. The good Senator shut Tenet (and Chris Wallace) down completely. Here's the full transcript (check out the bolded bits):
WALLACE: Senator, you talked about torture. Former CIA Director Tenet now says that the intelligence that they got from harsh interrogation techniques against some of these big Al Qaida types, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — the intelligence they got from them using, reportedly, things like water-boarding, extreme temperatures, was more valuable than all the other CIA and FBI programs. Were you wrong? I mean, this is the CIA, former CIA director, saying this. Were you wrong to limit what CIA interrogators could do? J. MCCAIN: A man I admire more than anyone else, General Jack Vessey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, battlefield commission, told me once — he said, "John, any intelligence information we might gain through the use of torture could never, ever counterbalance the image that it does — the damage that it does to our image in the world." I agree with him. Look at the war in Algeria. Look, the fact is if you torture someone, they're going to tell you anything they think you want to know. It is an affront to everything we stand for and believe in. It's interesting to me that every retired military officer, whether it be Colin Powell or whether it be former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — everybody who's been in war doesn't want to torture people and think that it's the wrong thing to do. And history shows that. We cannot torture people and maintain our moral superiority in the world. WALLACE: But when... J. MCCAIN: And that's a fact. WALLACE: But when George Tenet says... J. MCCAIN: I don't care what George Tenet says. I know what's right. I know what's morally right as far as America's behavior. WALLACE: But if I may, sir... J. MCCAIN: Yes, sir. WALLACE: ... when George Tenet says we saved live through some of these techniques... J. MCCAIN: I don't accept it. I don't accept that fundamental thesis, because it's never worked throughout history. And so again, I know this for a fact, and anyone who's had experience with this, I think, that's — well, the people I respect will tell you that if you inflect enough physical pain on someone, they will tell you anything they think you want to know in order to relieve that pain. That's just a fundamental fact. And we've gotten a huge amount of misinformation as well as other information from these techniques.
You go, sir!
Tags: Guantánamo
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