By lex, on August 30th, 2009
The WaPo has come out with an article detailing how Khalid Sheik Mohammed went from 9/11 planner to terrorism didact:
After enduring the CIA’s harshest interrogation methods and spending more than a year in the agency’s secret prisons, Khalid Sheik Mohammed stood before U.S. intelligence officers in a makeshift lecture hall, leading what they called “terrorist tutorials…”
Speaking in English, Mohammed “seemed to relish the opportunity, sometimes for hours on end, to discuss the inner workings of al-Qaeda and the group’s plans, ideology and operatives,” said one of two sources who described the sessions, speaking on the condition of anonymity because much information about detainee confinement remains classified. “He’d even use a chalkboard at times.”
These scenes provide previously unpublicized details about the transformation of the man known to U.S. officials as KSM from an avowed and truculent enemy of the United States into what the CIA called its “preeminent source” on al-Qaeda. This reversal occurred after Mohammed was subjected to simulated drowning and prolonged sleep deprivation, among other harsh interrogation techniques…
The debate over the effectiveness of subjecting detainees to psychological and physical pressure is in some ways irresolvable, because it is impossible to know whether less coercive methods would have achieved the same result. But for defenders of waterboarding, the evidence is clear: Mohammed cooperated, and to an extraordinary extent, only when his spirit was broken in the month after his capture March 1, 2003, as the inspector general’s report and other documents released this week indicate.
KSM’s was one of only three al Qaeda detainees to face the waterboard early on in the GWOT, and his eventual collaboration revealed extraordinary details about organization that had only recently killed three thousand US nationals, details about plots in process and locations where additional plotters might be found, rolled up and taken out of the game. Taken together, this undoubtedly saved thousands of innocent lives.
KSM’s spirit may have broken, but his body and mind are still whole, as are all those who today live their lives in ignorant bliss of the monstrous end he and his cohort had in mind for them. Which doesn’t stop our moral superiors, for whom the very notion of such treatment is anathema. They continue to argue that enhanced interrogation techniques don’t work, can’t. Evar. And even if they did, the moral cost is too much for them to bear. For them, this revelation in the Post evokes the following quality of thoughtful, mature response:
One could be forgiven for suspecting that there is significant overlap between those who’d simultaneously argue that waterboarding a terrorist mastermind to save thousands of lives today is a grotesque crime, and those who believe that sacrificing the occasional blond to a Chappaquiddick pond is a worthwhile trade-off if it brings universal health care forty years on. Which might, you know: Save somebody.
I’ve studied my maths, but that kind of calculus is beyond me.