The Israelis tried torture. It didn’t work. Then they tried coddling terrorist prisoners, which I can safely say is something our government hasn’t tried yet.
Quelle horror! Appeasement, you cry. They might as well blow up their own buses. Actually it worked pretty well for them:
Robert Baer, a former CIA covert officer who worked in Iraq and elsewhere, said he recently spent time in an Israeli prison, talking with detainees from the radical Palestinian groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas for a British documentary about suicide bombers.
The Israelis, Baer said, have learned that they can gain valuable information by establishing personal relationships with the inmates and gaining their trust.
“They found that torture, abusive tactics, made things overall worse for them politically,” Baer said. “The Israelis are friendly with their prisoners. They play cards with them and allow them to contact their families. They are getting in their minds to determine what makes up a suicide bomber.”
Vincent Cannistraro, a former chief of operations and analysis in the CIA Counterterrorist Center, said detainees would say virtually anything to end their torment.
Baer agreed, citing intelligence reports from Arab security services that yielded useless information. “The Saudis and Egyptians torture people all the time, but I have yet to see anything that helped us on the jihad movement and (Osama bin Laden’s deputy Ayman al) Zawahri,” he said.
Ibn Sheikh al Libi, an al-Qaida training camp commander who was captured, was a principal source of the Bush administration’s prewar claim that Iraq had provided chemical weapons training to bin Laden’s network. He was subjected to aggressive interrogation techniques – and the information on Iraq and al-Qaida turned out to have been invented.
As I said before, you don’t even have to care that torture runs counter to international law and degrades any country that uses it. It also simply doesn’t work. When it mostly yields useless information and has the pleasant side-effect of hardening civilians against us to the point of creating warm and cozy local environment for insurgents, it’s hard to imagine a good argument in favor.
Pretty much the only way left to defend this administration’s bizarre record on torture is to claim that they don’t do it. Good luck with that.
Hat tipped in the general direction of Drum.