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Congressional Democrats Take Aim at Interrogators

The intelligence community is at risk if proposed legislation is passed.

6:05 PM, Feb 25, 2010 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES and THOMAS JOSCELYN
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The Act also contains this sentence: “The moral standards that reflect the values of the United States governing appropriate tactics for interrogations do not change according to the dangers that we face as a nation.”

With that, the Democrats would like to short-circuit the lively debate in this nation over whether the unique circumstances of the post-9/11 world required interrogation techniques beyond the Army Field Manual and the FBI’s tactics.  The CIA and the previous administration determined that yes, in fact, alternative interrogation techniques were required. But now, years after the fact, and after having failed to object previously, congressional Democrats want to change the answer to “No.”

More importantly, suppose President Obama or another future president decides that more aggressive interrogation techniques are necessary to get a dangerous, high value detainee to talk. The president would now have to get Congress to repeal its ill-informed law just to progress with the senior terrorist's interrogation. (It is one thing for a president to rescind an executive order. It is quite another to get Congress to change its laws.) 

Then, there is this “finding”:

Torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment do not produce consistently reliable information and intelligence, and are not acceptable practices because their use runs counter to our identity and values as a nation.

Many of the most severe techniques the Democrats include in the “torture…cruel, inhuman, and degrading” category were used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. In the days, weeks, and months following the most severe interrogations of KSM, numerous terrorists were rounded up and terrorist attacks foiled. (See, for example, here and here.) The CIA has consistently pointed to the value of the intelligence gleaned from senior al Qaeda terrorists placed in the enhanced interrogation program. And even President Obama’s own Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, has conceded that the interrogations using EITs produced “high value” intelligence.  

Therefore, it is simply dishonest to claim that these techniques, as employed by the CIA’s professionals, did not “produce consistently reliable information and intelligence.”

There is plenty of room for honest debate on interrogations, including what techniques should and should not be used. But the congressional Democrats apparently do not want to have that debate and instead prefer to use underhanded legislative tactics.

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at THE WEEKLY STANDARD. Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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