Pro - Debate

"Enhanced interrogations" effectively obtain info, save lives Interrogations of Khalid Sheik Mohammad
resulted in confessions pertaining to the 9/11 atacks, the capture of other terrorists, and actionable
intelligence used to thwart 'following up' plans for weapons of mass destruction to be used on America,
including anthrax and dirty bomb operations.[2],[3]
Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques “led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the ‘Second Wave,’
‘to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into’ a building in Los Angeles.” KSM later
acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower,
the tallest building on the West Coast. The memo explains that “information obtained from KSM also led
to the capture of Riduan bin Isomuddin, better known as Hambali, and the discovery of the Guraba Cell,
a 17-member Jemmah Islamiyah cell tasked with executing the ‘Second Wave.’ ” In other words,
without enhanced interrogations, there could be a hole in the ground in Los Angeles to match the one
in New York.[4]
Zayn Abidin Muhammed Hussein abu Zubaida, the first high-ranking al-Qaeda member captured after
the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, broke in less than a minute after he was subjected to the technique and
began providing interrogators with information that led to the disruption of several planned attacks,
said John Kiriakou, who served as a CIA interrogator in Pakistan.
The waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah got him to talk in less than 35 seconds. The technique, which critics say
is torture, probably disrupted “dozens” of planned al-Qaida attacks, said John Kiriakou, a leader of the
team that captured Zubaydah, a major al-Qaida figure.[5]
Enhanced interrogations are necessary in ticking time bomb scenario According to an American Thinker
article on April 21, 2009, "Even Obama's hand-picked CIA Director, has admitted that he might consent
to enhanced interrogation techniques under a 'ticking time bomb' scenario. And that is exactly the scenario
in which the techniques were used during the Bush administration."[6].

Writing for JustOneMinute, Toby Maguire looks at these articles and analyses them superbly. His conclusion:

The OLC memos make it clear that deterring attacks was the lesser benefit of the enhanced interrogation
program.  The real value was in learning the names, leads, motivations, and the organization of Al Qaeda. 
For instance, information from Khalid Sheik Mohammed led to the arrest of Hambali, a leader of the group
responsible for the Bali bombing.  That may or may not have disrupted a specific attack (Hambali was
working on the Library Tower attack and his first team was arrested prior to KSM’s arrest and interrogation),
but the arrests clearly had value.  Put it this way – would capturing Bin Laden have value even if it did
not disrupt a specific attack?

To ensure new "enhanced interrogation" techniques did not cross the line into torture (by causing "severe
and long-lasting" pain) after 9/11, the U.S. Department of Justice required health professionals to be
present during many CIA interrogation sessions with detainees.
                                                                              Scientific American article

Banned Techniques Yielded "High Value Information', Memo Says
                                                                                          Admiral Dennis C. Blair
WASHINGTON – President Obama’s national intelligence director told colleagues in a private memo
last week that the harsh interrogation techniques banned by the White House did produce significant
information that helped the nation in its struggle with terrorists.

“High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a
deeper understanding of the al Qa’ida organization that was attacking this country,” Adm. Dennis
C. Blair, the intelligence director, wrote in a memo to his staff last Thursday.

Admiral Blair sent his memo on the same day the administration publicly released secret Bush
administration legal memos...

Admiral Blair’s assessment that the interrogation methods did produce important information was deleted
from a condensed version of his memo released to the media last Thursday


The sources told ABC that the techniques, while progressively aggressive, are not deemed torture, and
the debate among intelligence officers as to whether they are effective should not be underestimated.
There are many who feel these techniques, properly supervised, are both valid and necessary, the sources
said. While harsh, they say, they are not torture and are reserved only for the most important and
most difficult prisoners.

A redacted version of the CIA Inspector General Report on the CIA interrogation program was released
today. Media coverage seems to imply that CIA interrogators were constantly going beyond programmatic
guidance, where the IG Report found the reality to be that “there were few instances of deviations from
approved procedures.” IG Report page 5, para 10. Additionally, the media today has latched on to the
use of a gun in an interrogation, without usually reporting the other important element of that salacious
story, which is that the interrogator was promptly disciplined for his actions. Joby Warrick and R.
Jeffrey Smith, CIA Officer Disciplined for Alleged Gun Use in Interrogation, Wash Post (Aug. 23, 2009).

CIA Memos Released - More Evidence Why We Need To Support Our Intelligence Community, Not
Throw Them To The Wolve

Similarly going unreported today is that the release of the IG report should finally put to rest claims
that the CIA interrogation program was not effective and did not produce actionable intelligence, made,
for example, by Senator Whitehouse on the floor of the Senate on June 9, 2009. Analysis of the
effectiveness of the CIA interrogation program in the IG Report reveals the following:

• “Agency senior managers believe that lives have been saved as a result of the capture and interrogation
of terrorists who were planning attacks, in particular, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, Abu Zubaydah,
Hambali, and Al-Nashiri.” page 88 para 217.
• After the use of the enhanced interrogation techniques on the bomber of the USS Cole,
“al-Nashiri provided lead information on other terrorists during his first day of interrogation.”
pages 35-36, para 76.
• Hambali “provided information that led to the arrest of previously unknown members of an
Al-Qa’ida cell in Karachi.” page 87 para 216.
• Intelligence derived from the CIA interrogation program led to a general increase in relevant intelligence
reports, producing over 3,000 intelligence reports between 9/11 and the end of April 2003. page 86 para 213.
• A redacted entity “judge the reporting from detainees as one of the most important sources for finished
intelligence.” Similarly, another redacted entity “viewed analysts’ knowledge of the terrorist target as having
much more depth as a result of information from detainees and estimated that detainee reporting is used
in all counterterrorism articles produced for the most senior policymakers.” page 88 para 218.

Analysis of the effectiveness of the CIA interrogation program in documents released with the CIA IG
report reveals the following:

• “Results from the first al Qaeda HVT interrogated using the aforementioned enhanced techniques,
Abu Zubayda, have been outstanding. . . . This has ultimately led to some instances of the US Government
being able to neutralize Al Qaeda capabilities worldwide before there was an opportunity for those
capabilities to engage in operations harmful to the United States.” CIA Business Plan discussing RDI
program, page 13, March 7, 2003.
• “using the quality of the intelligence as the yardstick, the program has been an absolute success.”
Interview with a senior CIA officer regarding CIA RDI program, page 1, para 2, July 17, 2003.
• “there was no other way CTC [CIA Counterterrorist Center] could have gotten the information they
have obtained from the detainees.” Interview with a senior CIA officer regarding CIA RDI program,
page 1, para 2, July 17, 2003.
• “detainees have provided information that led to the arrest of other terrorists Zubadayh provided
information that led to the raid that netted Ramzi Bin al-Shibh.” Interview with a senior CIA officer
regarding CIA RDI program, page 2, para 3, July 17, 2003.
• al Nashiri “is providing actionable intelligence” after the use of the enhanced interrogation techniques.
Spot report regarding interrogation of al Nashiri, page 1, para 2, Jan. 22, 2003.

It is unclear why two other documents analyzing the effectiveness of the CIA interrogation program,
namely the CIA CTC Effectiveness Memo and the CIA DI Khalid Sheikh Mohammad Preeminent
Source Memo, were not released contemporaneously with the IG report. DOJ legal opinions, for example,
have cited the Effectiveness Memo for the proposition that “the intelligence acquired from these
interrogations has been a key reason why al-Qa’ida has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West
since 11 September 2001.” OLC CAT Memo, page 8, May 30, 2005.

The documents released Monday clearly demonstrate that the individuals subjected to Enhanced
Interrogation Techniques provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about al Qaeda. This intelligence
saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks. These detainees also, according to the documents, played a
role in nearly every capture of al Qaeda members and associates since 2002. The activities of the CIA in
carrying out the policies of the Bush Administration were directly responsible for defeating all efforts by
al Qaeda to launch further mass casualty attacks against the United States. The people involved deserve
our gratitude. They do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions. President
Obama’s decision to allow the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel,
and his decision to remove authority for interrogation from the CIA to the White House, serves as a
reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this Administration’s
ability to be responsible for our nation’s security.


That version of events is starkly different than the one reported by ABC News in December 2007, when
former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who was involved in the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah, claimed he
had only been waterboarded once for 35 seconds.

"The next day, he told his interrogators that Allah had visited him in his cell during the night and told him
to cooperate," said Kiriakou in an interview...
"From that day on, he answered every question," Kiriakou said. "The threat information he provided
disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks."

This is an area where people are emotional and do not look at the facts - and where they believe what "their side" says.  In fact, people will be uncomfortable or downright hostile if someone wants to discuss the facts objectively.  (Hostility and resistance, of course, are indications what is not being rational or fact based.)

It is an area where many humans are failing to use what makes us better human beings: reasoning, facts, and constructiveness.  Irrationality is our greatest enemy, as it is the gateway to doing what is harmful, though it will not necessarily have that result in some cases.

And, yes,

     "We have met the enemy and he is us."    Pogo


Assertion:  "Enhanced interrogation is ineffective."

The "word" out there is that enhanced interrogation is ineffective.  There is conjecture that even when information is obtained through enhanced interrogation it could have been gotten through other means - that is simply conjecture and poor reasoning if we conclude that, because it might have possibly maybe be gotten through other means, it is not effective.  Nonsense and poor reasoning. 

Evidence suggests that it is effective - and that it is not true that anyone working anywhere in the Bush administration were continuing something that was ineffective simply because they were stupid.  The logical argument is that someone must have had some know how and was doing it because it had benefits.

Assertion:  "Enhanced interrogation is actually torture."

Legal reviews have agreed that what was specified did not qualify as torture (sustained long term physical or psychological harm). 

But those who are emotional and "right" continue to hold to this as if they are as right as God.  Few will allow a rational discussion about it. 


Assertion:  "Enhanced interrogation is immoral."

Well, morality is a set of rules that is constructed and agreed upon by a society to produce the best overall results for the society. 

However, in the rational area, it is ethics that is the standard, as morality can come in many different versions depending on which society one is in.  Being right about what one thinks is moral is similar to believing that one's church is the only right version, although others believe that theirs is - and that is true of 10,000 religions - but they can't all be "true", if they conflict.

The test for ethics is whether something creates greater good for those involved.  And reality dictates that there will be tradeoffs.

Those interrogated feel some discomfort for various periods of time - that's the negative.   The information obtained saved thousands of lives.  A comparatively tiny negative against a huge positive.  That means that the enhanced interrogation was ethical and therefore justified.

Yes, we do not like to see people suffer, but an absolutist standard would have us at all costs seeking to not have someone suffer - but wouldn't people suffer if a family member was killed?   Isn't there a trade-off?

Clearly we cannot generalize and 'absolutize' if we are to be rational, progressive human being who are ethical in our behavior.  Indeed, those who generalize and absolutize are behaving unethically.

Assertion:  The other person is bad..

Obama decries others and blames others for their immoral position on enhanced interrogation.

Meanwhile, he has a few citizens (Al Awiaki and fellow car riders, all terrorists) killed with drones, without trial.

Which is the worst?: 

     Causing some people some discomfort for awhile or
     Taking someone's life

Who has the highest moral position? 

Also, if a person believes differently than you do is that person bad for sincerely believing what he/she believes?  Maybe the other person looks at things from a different point of view or has more information that has them being wiser.  Maybe the other person uses straight logic in their ethics and is actually more ethical than you are.


"It cannot be contested that the techniques were effective at eliciting information. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed refused to talk until the techniques were applied. He then divulged information about a second wave of attacks. Hundreds, if not thousands, of lives may have been spared as a result. But lost in the muddle of name-calling is the simple fact that only three detainees were ever subject to waterboarding.  A tremendous amount of essential information was obtained through the less controversial techniques utilized by professionals."
                                                                       Mac Thornberry, April 30, 2009

[A congressman on the Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence defends the program that have kept us safe eight years.   After the release of the internal memos.]

Title of article:  Enhanced Interrogations Worked

By Marc A. Thiessen
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Network News

"CIA IG Report Confirms Effectiveness of CIA Interrogation Program"

Michael Goldfarb

Did Enhanced Interrogation Of the 20th Hijacker Help Identify Bin Laden's Courier?

Yesterday, Michael Isikoff reported that “20th hijacker” Mohammed al Qahtani began cooperating with U.S. intelligence officials after being put through a series of humiliating interrogations. According to an unnamed U.S. intelligence official cited by Isikoff, Qahtani “started to cooperate and, for a while, provided a wealth of information about al-Qaida, including references to the courier in question.”

Another:  One of three al Qaeda captives waterboarded, Nashiri provided the names of a number of operatives still in the field.


The Interrogation Memos:  Shall We Be Clueless On Terrorism?
                                                  Legal review paper by American Civil Rights Union

"We find not only that these memos involve a thorough, well-reasoned, praiseworthy legal effort and analysis. We find that their conclusions are correct under
applicable law."

"This waterboarding was used on these three senior terrorists involved in attacks on
America only after lesser techniques were tried and failed. Moreover, it was used only after evaluations by medical and psychiatric experts, and conducted only with the presence and supervision of such experts, to ensure that the practice did not remotely involve infliction of “severe physical or mental pain or suffering,” which is what is prohibited as torture under U.S. law."
Given the moral heinousness of the three mass murderers targeted with this
waterboarding technique, the laudable results of the technique in saving thousands of innocent American lives, and the protections and safeguards involved in the application of the technique, we find the moral calculus that labels the Bush Administration’s use of this technique as impermissible torture to be inexplicably perverted.


BRIAN WILLIAMS: I'd like to ask you about the sourcing on the intel that ultimately led to this
successful attack. Can you confirm that it was as a result of waterboarding that we learned what
we needed to learn to go after bin Laden?

LEON PANETTA: You know Brian, in the intelligence business you work from a lot of sources of information, and that was true here. We had a multiple source -- a multiple series of sources -- that provided information with regards to this situation. Clearly, some of it came from detainees and the interrogation of detainees. But we also had information from other sources as well. So, it's a little difficult to say it was due just to one source of information that we got.

WILLIAMS: Turned around the other way, are you denying that waterboarding was in part among the tactics used to extract the intelligence that led to this successful mission?

PANETTA: No, I think some of the detainees clearly were, you know, they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of these detainees. But I'm also saying that, you know, the debate about whether we would have gotten the same information through other approaches I think is always going to be an open question.

WILLIAMS: So, finer point, one final time, enhanced interrogation techniques -- which has always been kind of a handy euphemism in these post-9/11 years -- that includes waterboarding?

PANETTA: That's correct.

(Torn between loyalty to the administration but trapped by the inclination to be honest.)