Friday, December 09, 2005

The pragmatic case against torture

From the New York Times

The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by a prisoner while in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials.

The officials said the captive, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, provided his most specific and elaborate accounts about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda only after he was secretly handed over to Egypt by the United States in January 2002, in a process known as rendition.

The new disclosure provides the first public evidence that bad intelligence on Iraq may have resulted partly from the administration's heavy reliance on third countries to carry out interrogations of Qaeda members and others detained as part of American counterterrorism efforts. The Bush administration used Mr. Libi's accounts as the basis for its prewar claims, now discredited, that ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda included training in explosives and chemical weapons.
This begs the question: how much of this administration's case for war with Iraq was based on testimony obtained under "enhanced interrogation" techniques, techniques that have gone so far as to result in at least eight deaths.

Edit - And let's not forget Mathew Yglesias's idea that this could actually be construed as the pragmatic case for torture, depending on your methodology.


elendil said...

I hope you don't mind me self-advertising, but I have an entry on my blog covering the history of articles relating to the al-Libi case. There is also another case where the threat of torture was enough for a detainee to fabricate parts of their statement.

Hume's Ghost said...

I don't mind at all. Actually, on the contrary, I appreciate the links.