Marc Thiessen Truly Has No Idea What He’s Talking About on Interrogation

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Monday, February 22, 2010 at 11:59 am

Watch the former Bush speechwriter and torture enthusiast on “Morning Joe” today. His first point is that President Obama is endangering the country because the Pakistanis aren’t getting intelligence from captured Taliban deputy commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. What he doesn’t mention is that intelligence from Baradar, reportedly, directly led to the capture of Mulvi Kabir, one of the ten most wanted Taliban leaders. This was reported yesterday and Thiessen just ignores it.

Then he avers that Obama’s rejection of torture has cost U.S. interrogators “any tools at our disposal” to “compel” information out of terrorist captures. Except that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be bomber of Northwest Flight 253, is cooperating with his interrogators after they used pressure from his family to compel that cooperation. Also, the elite interrogators of the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group will surely be surprised to hear they have no available tools for interrogating a resistant detainee. Then he says that torture stopped an attempted attack on the Los Angeles library tower, a misstatement that has been so thoroughly debunked it raises questions about Thiessen’s honesty.

Then Daniel Freedman — a former Rudy Giuliani aide, aide to ex-FBI counterterrorist agent Ali Soufan and torture opponent, more than ably points out that despite the torture of senior al-Qaeda captives like Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, several attacks in Europe and throughout the Middle East nevertheless occurred. To say nothing of al-Qaeda’s demonstrable reconstitution in the tribal areas of Pakistan. And Thiessen — a former speechwriter — wants to credibly contend that torture is the difference between security and insecurity. “The problem Marc has is that he takes things out of context and doesn’t read the full documents,” Freedman observes. Yet he’s your newest Washington Post columnist.

Watch the whole thing — especially when Marc Thiessen implies that he knows more about interrogation than Gen. David Petraeus. And shame on Joe Scarborough for portraying Soufan, a man who has actually broken up al-Qaeda cells, as a “guy who writes a lot” and not one of the most experienced counterterrorists in American history:

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I’m sorry, just one more thing. Thiessen objects to the use of the non-torture techniques outlined in the Army Field Manual on Interrogation against the highest-value detainees because the manual is “on the Internet” and terrorists can train against it. That’s just a flat-out misunderstanding of the field manual in particular and the interrogations process itself. The field manual does not and never has required only the use of those techniques it lists, but it proscribes physical and psychological abuse. That’s why people like Abdulmutallab can, say, have their parents’ opprobrium be used against them, a technique not explicitly listed in the field manual but still legally and morally kosher — and proven to be effective.

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Comments

29 Comments

chrisjay
Comment posted February 22, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

These demagogues are freaked by the prospect of being out-maneuvered by Obama on nat'l security—-watch 'em squirm & listen to 'em squeal like stuck pigs


narciso
Comment posted February 22, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

So because Casablanca and Madrid weren't stopped, which were likely in the plans after Zubeydah and KSM were nabbed this makes the techniques invalid.
The ISI most likely gave up Kabir, as he is most likely their client. So now the Army field manual doesn't prohibit certain practices, really isn't that the source
of your new embrace of General Petraeus


texasaggie
Comment posted February 22, 2010 @ 9:37 pm

It is obvious that these guys are using the fallacy that torture provides results that normal interrogation doesn't because of their personal proclivities towards sadism. They know beyond a shadow of a doubt that techniques designed and developed to provide false confessions are not all of a sudden going to provide reliable intelligence.

Also, the real results of civilized interrogation are just too obvious to ignore whereas they have yet to show anything substantial induced by torture. Cheney kept talking about two classified documents that would show torture results, but when they were declassified, they did nothing of the kind. Now here the best that Theissen can do is drag up the same lie that Bush used way back when and which, as noted in the article, has been repeatedly shot down in flames.


Heraldblog
Comment posted February 23, 2010 @ 11:25 am

Read Freedman's quote again. He is not just talking about AZ and KSM.

“…despite the torture of senior al-Qaeda captives like Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, several attacks in Europe and throughout the Middle East nevertheless occurred.”

And your point is?


usernamealreadytaken
Comment posted February 23, 2010 @ 11:27 am

Why didn't anyone bring up the 100 + “detainees” who died in American custody? The three who “committed suicide” in Guantanamo by binding their own hands and feet, ramming rags down their throats and then hanging themselves? Has it occurred to this meathead that if a prisoner gives no useful intelligence it's because he may not know any? The three men in Guantanamo probably died precisely because they couldn't give their tormentors information they didn't know. And therefore, the “highly trained professionals” didn't stop abusing them until they were dead.

And if I hear the phrase “kept us safe” one more time, I will throw up.


riredinpa
Comment posted February 23, 2010 @ 11:37 am

You forgot to add Zazi to the list. Apparently to protect his parents from prosecution and deportation he is cooperating with the Feds.


jron
Comment posted February 23, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

well it does produce “results that normal interrogation doesn't,” because the tortured will say whatever the interrogator wants.

Obviously bad for intelligence-gathering, but works for justifying a war. Bush/Cheney, in my view, had a vision for which they wanted proof, and torture is the only way to get it.


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Pingback posted February 23, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

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gator97
Comment posted February 23, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

Using family members is actually in the field manual–it's the “Love of 'fill in the blank'” approach. Often family and loved ones are used in the “love of” approach, but not in person like here. Obviously, very effective. Most of the field manual's approaches are based on basic human emotions: love, hate and fear and no amount of resistance training can alter one's emotional state (even a big bad al qaeda terrorist). I write as a 97E having used these techniques effectively against high value detainees. Soufan is absolutely right; Thiessen is a fool.


bakum
Comment posted February 23, 2010 @ 1:02 pm

We should be thankful for Marc Thiessen because he reminds us, in the absence of Sarah Palin, that 1/3 of the country is retarded.


richardsimmonscheney
Comment posted February 24, 2010 @ 12:34 am

But torture is so…butch. It makes some of us feel as if we were Real Men, and isn't that's what's most important?


richardsimmonscheney
Comment posted February 24, 2010 @ 5:34 am

But torture is so…butch. It makes some of us feel as if we were Real Men, and isn't that's what's most important?


CIA’s top spy: U.S. intelligence hasn’t ‘suffered at all’ from banning waterboading. « ALL Progressive Politix
Pingback posted April 3, 2010 @ 6:21 pm

[...] Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, have argued that Obama’s order has cost U.S. interrogators “any tools at our disposal” to “compel” information out of terrorist captures. But in a talk at Fordham University last [...]


FTSN News » Blog Archive » CIA’s top spy: U.S. intelligence hasn’t ‘suffered at all’ from banning waterboading.
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[...] Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, have argued that Obama’s order has cost U.S. interrogators “any tools at our disposal” to “compel” information out of terrorist captures. But in a talk at Fordham University last [...]


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Pingback posted April 3, 2010 @ 7:26 pm

[...] Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, have argued that Obama’s order has cost U.S. interrogators “any tools at our disposal” to “compel” information out of terrorist captures. But in a talk at Fordham University last [...]


CIA’s top spy: U.S. intelligence hasn’t ‘suffered at all’ from banning waterboading. | Pure Politics
Pingback posted April 3, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

[...] speechwriter Marc Thiessen, have argued that Obama’s order has cost U.S. interrogators “any tools at our disposal” to “compel” information out of terrorist captures. But in a talk at Fordham University last [...]


CIA’s top spy: U.S. intelligence hasn’t ‘suffered at all’ from banning waterboading. | No Bull. news service.
Pingback posted April 4, 2010 @ 7:32 am

[...] speechwriter Marc Thiessen, have argued that Obama’s order has cost U.S. interrogators “any tools at our disposal” to “compel” information out of terrorist captures. But in a talk at Fordham University last [...]


With no waterboarding, how can we gather intelligence? « Later On
Pingback posted April 4, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

[...] Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, have argued that Obama’s order has cost U.S. interrogators “any tools at our disposal” to “compel” information out of terrorist captures. But in a talk at Fordham University last [...]


christophercarr
Comment posted April 5, 2010 @ 3:15 pm

Banning torture makes us much, much safer:

http://www.theinductive.com/blog/2010/4/5/this-…


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But torture is so…butch. It makes some of us feel as if we were Real Men, and isn't that's what's most important?


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