McCain: Mukasey Claim That Torture Led To Bin Laden Is False

Last night on The Ed Show, I discussed the amazing speech and column by Senator John McCain on torture. One of the most notable aspects of the comments was McCain stating that the claim by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey that torture led to the location of Bin Laden is simply untrue and confirmed as false by CIA Director Leon Panetta.

As did Ron Paul in the recent Republican debate, John McCain confronted his colleagues over the effort to redeem torture by claiming that it was beneficial in this case. As he correctly notes, torture is a war crime not because it lacks any benefit in terms of intelligence but because it is immoral.

One of the most interesting passages was:

Former attorney general Michael Mukasey recently claimed that “the intelligence that led to bin Laden . . . began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. He loosed a torrent of information — including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden.” That is false.

I asked CIA Director Leon Panetta for the facts, and he told me the following: The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. The first mention of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — the nickname of the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately led us to bin Laden — as well as a description of him as an important member of al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country, who we believe was not tortured. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al-Qaeda.

To the contrary, McCain points out that the torture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed resulted in demonstrably “false and misleading information.”

Where I part with McCain is his insistence that, despite it being torture (and thus a war crime), no one should ever be punished for the crimes. It is important to stand for principle but it is even more important to bear the responsibility that comes with principle. It may not be popular or convenient, but we are obligated to investigate and prosecute torture.

48 thoughts on “McCain: Mukasey Claim That Torture Led To Bin Laden Is False

  1. As Professor Turley stated: “It may not be popular or convenient, but we are obligated to investigate and prosecute torture.”

    It’s that simple.

  2. Yep.

    Our nation will never get back on the right track until torture prosecutions are had.

  3. When ones nights are turned into days and vice versa,it feels good to be able to come to a site and get the “real”.

  4. Dredd, Thanks for the links. This is a good site for Fukushima news and analysis, the ‘updates’ tab has a good archive of analysis:

    “Gundersen says Fukushima’s gaseous and liquid releases continue unabated. With a meltdown at Unit 1, Unit 4 leaning and facing possible collapse, several units contaminating ground water, and area school children outside the exclusion zone receiving adult occupational radiation doses, the situation continues to worsen. TEPCO needs a cohesive plan and international support to protect against world-wide contamination.”

  5. Lottkatz,

    These things illustrate a broad based increase in a loss of reason in governments around the world.

    Cheney, Mukasey, and the rest have counterparts in almost every nation it would seem.

  6. Mukasey answers to a ‘Higher Law’.
    In its current Reductio ad Absurdum, we behold this mongrel “Jewish-Democracy.”
    He always chanted “His Master’s Voice!”


    1, May 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm
    Mukasey is bought and paid for by the Teapublicans. It is a disgrace to read and hear the crap he spewed about torture and what he is saying now. And this guy was a former Federal Judge. Maybe his past decisions should be looked at for conflict issues.

  7. They hate us for our freedoms
    Salon, 5/15/2011


    The New York Times reports today:

    For the second time in three days, a night raid in eastern Afghanistan by NATO forces resulted in the death of a child, setting off protests on Saturday that turned violent and ended in the death of a second boy. . . .

    “American forces did an operation and mistakenly killed a fourth-grade student; he had gone to sleep in his field and had a shotgun next to him,” [the district’s governor, Abdul Khalid]. said. “People keep shotguns with them for hunting, not for any other purposes,” Mr. Khalid said.

    The boy, [15], was the son of an Afghan National Army soldier . . . When morning came, an angry crowd gathered in Narra, the boy’s village, and more than 200 people marched with his body to the district center. Some of the men were armed and confronted the police, shouting anti-American slogans . . .

    The police opened fire in an effort to push back the crowd to stop its advance to the district center. A 14-year-old boy was killed, and at least one other person was wounded, Mr. Khalid said. . . .

    On Thursday, a night raid by international forces in Nangahar Province resulted in the death of a 12-year-old girl and her uncle, who was a member of the Afghan National Police.

    There’s nothing much new to say here, but every now and then, it’s worth highlighting not only what we’re doing, but what the results are. Just imagine the accumulated hatred from having things like this happen day after day, week after week, year after year, for a full decade now, with no end in sight — broadcast all over the region. It’s literally impossible to convey in words the level of bloodthirsty fury and demands for vengeance that would arise if a foreign army were inside the U.S. killing innocent American children even a handful of times, let alone continuously for a full decade.

    It’s the perfect self-perpetuating cycle: (1) They hate us and want to attack us because we’re over there; therefore, (2) we have to stay and proliferate ourselves because they hate us and want to attack us; (3) our staying and proliferating ourselves makes them hate us and want to attack us more; therefore, (4) we can never leave, because of how much they hate us and want to attack us. The beauty of this War on Terror — and, as the last two weeks have demonstrated, War is the bipartisan consensus for what we are and should be doing to address Terrorism — is that it forever sustains its own ostensible cause.


    Santorum: McCain ‘Doesn’t Understand’ Interrogation

    By DONNA CASSATA 05/17/11

    WASHINGTON — Former Sen. Rick Santorum said Tuesday that Sen. John McCain, who spent 5 1/2 years enduring brutal treatment at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors, doesn’t know how effective waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques can be. The Republican presidential contender insisted the tactics led the United States to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

    McCain said he asked CIA Director Leon Panetta for the facts, and that the hunt for bin Laden did not begin with fresh information from Mohammed. In fact, the name of bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, came from a detainee held in another country.

    “Not only did the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed not provide us with key leads on bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmed, it actually produced false and misleading information,” McCain said.

    In an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday, Santorum said McCain was wrong.

    “Everything I’ve read shows that we would not have gotten this information as to who this man was if it had not been gotten information from people who were subject to enhanced interrogation,” Santorum said. “And so this idea that we didn’t ask that question while Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was being waterboarded, he (McCain) doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works.

    “I mean, you break somebody, and after they’re broken, they become cooperative. And that’s when we got this information. And one thing led to another, and led to another, and that’s how we ended up with bin Laden,” said Santorum.

    He added: “Maybe McCain has better information than I do, but from what I’ve seen, it seems pretty clear that but for these cooperative witnesses who were cooperative as a result of enhanced interrogations, we would not have gotten bin Laden.”

    McCain, the 2008 Republican president nominee, said his information came from Panetta. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, backed up McCain’s assessment that waterboarding of Mohammed did not produce the tip that led to bin Laden.

    Brooke Buchanan, a spokeswoman for McCain, said Tuesday she would not dignify Santorum’s comments with a response.

    In the House, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the chairman of the Intelligence committee, said the Justice Department should stop investigating CIA interrogators for alleged abuse of detainees under the Bush administration because their work was a “vital part of the chain” that led to the successful raid on bin Laden’s hideout.

    The Justice Department had no comment.

    AP Intelligence Writer Kimberly Dozier contributed to this report.S

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