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

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

Elisa Mueller
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Feb 22, 2010

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.

Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.


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