Strong opinions, weakly held

Horrifying torture news of the day

What information did interrogators hope to get from prisoners at Guantanamo? Substantiation of the link between al-Qaeda and Iraq. McClatchy DC has the details:

A former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration.

“There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used,” the former senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity.

“The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.”

Salon has more coverage of the Senate Armed Services report that the McClatchy article cites, reporting that planning for the use of torture began in 2001.

A PDF of the full report, which was declassified yesterday, is available for download.

Update: Dan Froomkin has a summary of what we learned from the report. Essentially, our government tortured prisoners for the purpose of creating propaganda to justify launching a war of aggression. Chew on that.


  1. Your capsule version of Froomkin’s summary accurately and succinctly captures the heart of the matter.

    But for whom could this legitimately be called “news?” Only for those who would continue, ala Cheney, to deny the truth.

    Sadly that’s going to be far too many Americans.

    This “news” is certainly not going to change President Obama’s determination to protect the both the practitioners of torturer and their executive sponsors. He seems to have settled on laying only the hides of a few middlemen lawyers on the grill.

    Smart man! That’ll get the the braying dirty f*cking hippies off his back and also leave the whole infrastructure untouched.

  2. My sense is that this things is beyond the White House’s control by a fairly large degree. Between the torture memo release last week and the Senate Armed Services committee report released today, the specific, illegal torture practiced and the shoddy, indefensible reasons for it have been exposed. So even if Obama wants to protect the apparatus (and I don’t think he does), he won’t be able to.

  3. If it’s beyond the executive’s control, are you supposing congress is going to drive aggressively to investigate and dismantle? Or are you placing some faith in foreign powers producing similar effects by taking seriously their treaty obligations should the US fail to “police its own?”

    Just asking. I honestly am not sure whether I am too cynical. Events certainly haven’t proven that yet, but I admit that informed optimism gives me pause.

  4. What I mean is that I think we’re at a point where doing nothing is no longer feasible. The key truths are out there, and as we see people synthesizing the information, it will be very difficult to resist conducting a real legal investigation. Given that the violations of the law are clear cut, that will surely result in people being charged with crimes.

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