Cheney’s Sleight Of Hand

by Patrick Appel

Ackerman has copies of the documents that Cheney said prove that torture works. Ackerman also notices a footnote on the CIA using the terms interrogator and debriefer interchangeably before 9/11. He posits:

Because of the joint relationship of “interrogators” and “debriefers,” it’s extraordinarily difficult to distinguish between what approaches worked and what didn’t for the purposes of the report. (Even factoring out moral and legal considerations.) That lack of disaggregation may be what contributed to the documents that Cheney wanted the CIA to declassify showing the alleged utility of torture.

The documents are heavily redacted, but nothing we can read refers to torture techniques providing solid information. Here's the type of paragraph that makes Cheney smile:


KSM was brutallty tortured, so it is entirely possible that information obtained from him was the result of torture, but nothing in these documents compares interrogation technique effectiveness. It's worth repeating that no one denies torture produces information. It produces loads of information, most of it bad. The same or better information can be collected through other techniques and, again, nothing in these documents compares and contrasts these methods. Here's Marcy Wheeler's analysis:

The most important thing to understand about these documents….is the timing. The first one came just after (July 17, 2004) the release of the IG Report and was, significantly, an attempt to rationalize the torture program. And the other came at a time (June 3, 2005) when Congress was increasingly pressuring the Administration to bring the torture program under CAT guidelines prohibiting cruel and inhuman treatment. So they're big PR pieces, boasting of how important KSM is to their fight against terror, boasting of how much information they've gotten from detainees.