Torture “Does Not Work, And Is Wrong”: Former CIA Interrogator Glenn Carle Speaks Out

In the US media, there’s a little bit of a buzz right now about the use of torture by the Bush administration, and much of it is the right sort of buzz — openly involving reminders that torture is a crime, and that, in addition, using torture is worthless if the aim is to produce reliable information. Also mentioned, though not, in general, with the prominence it truly deserves, is the fact that those who authorized the use of torture still walk free, and are allowed to publish books and appear on chat shows, even if their opportunities for foreign travel are severely curtailed, as with George W. Bush, because the world is full of countries in which the appropriate respect is given to the UN Convention Against Torture — to which, of course, the US, under Ronald Reagan, became a signatory.

The buzz about torture has been created because of the publication of a book entitled, The Interrogator: An Education by Glenn L. Carle, a former CIA operative and Arabic speaker who was sent to an undisclosed country, to a “black site” known as Hotel California, to interrogate a suspected senior al-Qaeda operative.

Carle’s book s important for two reasons: firstly, because it is the first example of a US interrogator’s first-hand account of a “black site,” and secondly, and crucially, because Carle refused to engage in the torture techniques that the Bush administration arranged for lawyers in the Justice Department to authorize, preferring instead to interrogate the prisoner using rapport-buiiding methods and psychological insight, and also because he is openly critical of those methods. Read the rest of this entry »

New York Times Attempts to Stifle Torture Debate It Helped Spark in the Wake of Osama bin Laden’s Death

On Thursday, the New York Times, having played a major part in creating a buzz in the United States about the role that torture and the existence of Guantánamo played in locating Osama bin Laden, with an article on Tuesday entitled, “Bin Laden Raid Revives Debate on Value of Torture,” resolutely stepped back from the result of suggesting that there were even grounds for a “debate” — given that the use of torture is illegal (as well as morally corrosive and unreliable) — by publishing an excellent editorial decisively condemning the “immoral and illegal behavior” of torture apologists after 9/11, including Berkeley law professor John Yoo, who, as a lawyer in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2002, “twisted the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions into an unrecognizable mess to excuse torture” in what will forever be known as the “torture memos.”

The Times also recognized torture as “immoral and illegal and counterproductive,” and stated that, although torture may produce some useful information — amongst all the lies that, for example, plague the military assessments of Guantánamo prisoners that were recently released by WikiLeaks — “most experienced interrogators think that the same information, or better, can be obtained through legal and humane means.”

I would prefer that the last line had read “experienced interrogators have absolutely no doubt that the same information, or better, can be obtained through legal and humane means,” and I would also have preferred the Times‘ editors not to have claimed that the use of torture has led to America’s “inability to hold credible trials for very bad men” — presumably a reference to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his alleged co-conspirators in the preparation and execution of the 9/11 attacks — when the truth is that Attorney General Eric Holder was convinced that a federal court trial could proceed, but was prevented from doing so for nakedly political reasons. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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