Monday, April 27, 2009

Abu Zubaydah Interrogator Speaks Out, "Torture Was Wrong"

Terrorism is bad, really bad. We all get that, whether you were in Lower Manhattan on September 11th or in a crowded Baghdad market where a bicyclist with a bomb detonated himself. Terrorism happens all over the world, and those that seek to terrorize should be stopped and interrogated in order to glean information about what they know about in terms of their organization and future attacks. That would be the basics. How you get that information from them is entirely different story. In the case of FBI interrogator Ali Soufan, it is one hell of an incredible story.

From The American Prospect:

The story of FBI interrogator Ali Soufan plays out like a movie. The son of an immigrant from Lebanon, Soufan, using traditional interrogation methods, gleaned from Abu Zubayda a plot to plant a dirty bomb in the United States and the alias of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. He turned the jihadis greatest weapons against them, citing Qu'ranic verses from memory and using his knowledge of Islam to gain the trust of terrorist detainees, then using the trust he had gained to get information that saved American lives. When he discovered that the CIA was planning on torturing Zubayda, his reaction was that of a lawman: "I swear to God," he reportedly said to FBI assistant director for counterterrorism Pasquale D'Amuro, "I'm going to arrest these guys!"

Soufan's courage and respect for American values contrasts sharply with former CIA official Michael Scheuer, who insists that the only way to protect America is through torture and that anyone who believes otherwise is anti-American. This contradicts the CIA Inspector General's own 2004 findings that there is no conclusive information that tortured yielded information that foiled "specific imminent attacks." Scheuer's belief in the power of torture is not empirical, but ideological, just like that of James Mitchell, the former Air Force psychologist who helped design the torture program and who, despite having never interrogated a prisoner a day in his life, told Ali Soufan he had no idea what he was doing.

Soufan knew what he was doing and did it well, for the benefit of millions of American lives. Scheuer and others like him however, let their machismo go to their heads, not only compromising the ability to obtain truthful information, but destroying the credibility of the United States in the world's eyes. Tenet may have been given a medal of freedom by President Bush, but Obama should snatch it back and bestow it upon Mr. Soufan.