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Tortured Logic

by on May 9, 2011

The death of Osama bin Laden has led to the question of how we found him. Naturally, those who defend torture will say torture aided in finding bin Laden, while those who oppose torture will say that torture – Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Black Sites – will say torture hindered finding bin Laden. What’s the reality?

There is no evidence that torture was integral to capturing bin Laden. Of three tortured prisoners among the countless leads and tips and interviewees, one was deemed “quite cooperative” before Torture7 being tortured, thereby leaving open the question of whether the shred of information he provided could have been gotten by non-barbaric methods; and two denied any knowledge of the courier under the torture technique called “waterboarding.” So in order to defend torture, Cheney has to say that it’s a success when the tortured tell lies. Heads he wins, tails we lose. Moreover, in the last two years or so, torture has been forbidden – although its legacy remains with war criminals protected by the US government, in violation of Geneva – and it was after those two years of a return to decency that bin Laden was found and killed. As for the Bush administration’s over-arching goal – democratization of the Middle East – it was only under Obama that we got the Green Revolution in Iran, the successful revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, and the power-struggles now happening in Syria and Libya.

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