Andy Worthington Tears Down the Osama Bin Laden “Torture Debate” on Press TV


If readers have just four minutes to spare, and want to hear my thoughts on why it is pernicious that the US media has succumbed to suggestions that there ought to be a “debate” about torture in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden, and also why it is unacceptable that bin Laden’s death should lead to any sort of defense of Guantánamo, then I recommend this interview with Press TV, under the heading, “Info that led to locating bin Laden came through torture?”

This is how Press TV described my analysis, which follows up on themes I discussed in particular in my article, Osama bin Laden’s Death, and the Unjustifiable Defense of Torture and Guantánamo:

Andy Worthington, journalist, historian and author of The Guantánamo Files from London is worried at the suggestion that the information that led to locating Osama bin Laden came through the use of torture.

He told Press TV’s US Desk on Friday, “There is no circumstance in which it is acceptable to open up a debate on torture as has been mentioned in the US media.”

He added that he also doesn’t like the way in which it has been hinted that “somehow having a facility like Guantánamo was helpful to tracking down Osama bin Laden.”

He further said, “If the information that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden came from the interrogation of prisoners, then it came from specifically targeted individuals … whereas with Guantánamo the problem with that place has been that it involved a very random selection of individuals, many of whom were completely innocent.”

For soundbites, these are good, although my criticism of torture should have been followed by what I said next; namely, “There is no debate to be had on torture. Torture is illegal, it’s immoral and it’s counterproductive. We’re not allowed [legally] to have a debate on it, and it’s rather underhand for media outlets in the United States to claim that there are any circumstances in which this should be happening.”

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in July 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, on tour in the UK throughout 2011, and available on DVD here — or here for the US), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

19 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Chenae Meneely wrote:

    Shared with your comments

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Gabriele Müller wrote:


  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Josh Langford wrote:

    Well said Andy. As you said even if it does work that argument is invalid. Torture shouldn’t take place because it is wrong, it’s as simple as that.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Allison Lee-Clay wrote:

    I can’t imagine how many ‘pro torture’ military or military ‘Last Castle’ aficionados join the police forces & will use these arguments against peace demonstrators, social organizers or any other suspects.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Josh Langford wrote:

    Yep Allison you’re right, that’s the thing about torture. If you torture someone and make the argument that the torture will prevent x from happening you can replace x with anything, where will that leave us in 50 years time?

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Allison Lee-Clay wrote:

    ‎”Taking Liberties”: (trailer) & (full film)

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Lilia Patterson wrote:

    courts of law in the USA have already ruled that evidence extracted using torture is inadmissible in a court of law. Therefore for Dick Cheney’s daughter to now come out with a special focus campaign to say ‘look how torture was useful to get confessions that led to finding and getting Osama bin Laden’ can only be seen in one light. 1. Protect Dick Cheney.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Allison Lee-Clay ‎wrote:

    Lilia …or protect her desire for a future influence in US politics or US ‘security’ circles…?

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Josh Langford wrote:

    I hadn’t seen this but I will definitely watch, the trailers sums up just how bad things are getting here in Britain, thanks Allison.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Lilia Patterson wrote:

    Allison, I don’t know – but I remember her being interviewed on TV a couple of years back saying “my dad is paranoid that he will get caught over using torture illegal in international law”. I would consider her action of being interviewed and saying that live on TV can only be considered as the act of a desperate daughter who wants to protect her dad, despite the fact that he is responsible for vast crimes of mass murder, and illegal torture, and for building networks of torture across the world as part of the process of war-mongering and mass-murdering. I would therefore consider her words saying ‘isn’t torture great, it led us to capture Osama bin Laden’ as part of the same strategy of wanting to protect her dad from getting strung up by the Hague. I would also suggest that the ‘capture of Osama’ and immediate disappearance with zero actual evidence that he has actually been captured may also be considered useful to hide the fact that Cheney and Rumsfeld are being investigated in a court of law by a former Pentagon employee who was in the building on 9/11 and lawyers, at this present moment in time.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Lilia Patterson wrote:

    Well she certainly seems to be following in her dad’s footsteps.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Salameh Abdul-Hadi wrote:

    Torture is torture and there is no justifications for the use of torture.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, my friends, and to everyone who shared this. Very glad that the torture apologists are not getting away with all their lies and distortions, and that not everyone is fooled by false, self-serving narratives designed to protect torturers and create the climate for a new round of violence and torture …

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Amanda Menlove wrote:

    If held to the same standards, most of the world leaders would be put to death with Osama.
    Violence and torture are authoritarian by nature.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Mary Shepard wrote:

    What the hell kind of people even need to “debate” the issue of torture? Wow, has American society deteriorated this much??

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    I am sharing and Digging this now, Andy. My impression is, that whatever the motivations of different parties for the debate are, and whatever the ethically best ways of condemning the practice is, the debate can make torture easier to apply in future. For once enough people become uncertain by exposure to bad ‘argument,’ new applications might be (at least provisionally) accepted by more than did so one week ago.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Amanda, Mary and George. Good to hear from you all.

  19. Fred says...

    Could you please shed some light on the nature of the questions asked during these so-called interrogations? Based on what I’ve read, much of the questioning was insane, which would mean that there is no way that it could have produced useful results. However, the fact that it continued for so long indicates that it did accomplish its actual, hidden purpose, which seems to have been to simply drive people insane and to extract false confessions in order to manufacture a justification for the “war on terrror.”

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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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