From today's <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2008/03/11/BL2008031101354_pf.html>WashingtonPost editorial page</a>
<lj-cut>Jack Cloonan, who worked as a special agent for the FBI's Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to 2002, writes; "We gave our word to every detainee that no harm would come to him or his family. This invariably stunned them, and they would feel more obligated to cooperate. Also, because all information led to more information, detainees were astonished to find out how much we already knew about them--their networks, their families, their histories. Some seemed relieved to reveal their secrets. When they broke, the transformations were remarkable. Their bodies would go limp. Many would weep. Most would ask to pray. These were men undergoing profound emotional and spiritual turmoil--the result of going from a belief that their destiny was to fight and kill people like us to a decision that they should cooperate with the enemy. . . .
"Let me be clear on one crucial point: it is the terrorists whom we won over with humane methods in the 1990s who continue to provide the most reliable intelligence we have in the fight against al-Qaeda. And it is the testimony of terrorists we tortured after 9/11 who have provided the most unreliable information, such as stories about a close connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein."
Indeed, Rand Beers writes about Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi and the fruits of torture: "Al-Libi, an al-Qaeda operative, was interrogated by both the United States and Egypt, and -- as was publicly reported -- tortured by Egyptian authorities. During these sessions, he claimed that Iraq had trained members of al-Qaeda to use chemical and biological weapons.
"Al-Libi's testimony was used by the Bush administration to substantiate its allegations that Iraq was prepared to provide al-Qaeda with weapons of mass destruction. Coupled with the claim that Iraq was on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons, the administration stated that when Iraq possessed nuclear capabilities, al-Qaeda would as well. Of all of the pieces of intelligence assembled in the lead-up to war, this one was the most chilling: the prospect of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, under Osama bin Laden's control. And so we went to war to prevent this nightmare from occurring."
Al-Libi later recanted his confession. "He said that he had invented the information because he was afraid of being further abused by his interrogators."
Wesley K. Clark writes: "The honor of the American man-at-arms is one of our most potent weapons. It is enshrined in the Geneva Conventions. It encourages our enemies to surrender to us on the battlefield. It protects any of our own soldiers who may have been captured. It encourages noncombatants and civilians to trust us and cooperate willingly. And it does not countenance the abuse of captives in our care. . . .
"Today, in the struggle to finish off the extremists plotting against us, it won't be torture and fear that win the day for America. Far from it. Nations that torture end up despised and defeated. No, to win we'll have to live up to the values we profess, the belief in human rights, equal justice, fair trials, and the rule of law. These ideals are potent weapons. They will give us allies, friends, information, and security--but only if we live them.