Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Why torture doesn't work

No Torture. No Exceptions. - Jack Cloonan
When we speak today of "breaking" a terrorist suspect, many people picture something grim—perhaps a subject curled up in a fetal position and begging for mercy. But it's not what I picture. I worked as a special agent for the FBI's Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to 2002. During that time, my colleagues and I had the chance to question numerous operatives from al-Qaeda. We broke many terrorists. But we did it the right way: by being intelligent and humane. . . .


Intelligence failures had much to do with the atrocity of September 11, but those had nothing to do with a lack of torture. Let me be clear on one crucial point: it is the terrorists whom we won over with humane methods in the 1990s who continue to provide the most reliable intelligence we have in the fight against al-Qaeda. And it is the testimony of terrorists we tortured after 9/11 who have provided the most unreliable information, such as stories about a close connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. I never regret that the FBI didn't abuse its detainees. Had we done so, we would have had much less reliable intelligence, and we would have been morally debased. By instituting a pol-icy of torture in the years following 9/11, we have recruited thousands to al-Qaeda's side. It has been a tragic waste.
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