Well that didn’t take long.
Once news of Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. Special Forces started spreading like wildfire I found myself wondering how long it would take for those at Faux News to start trying to give all of the credit to dumbass, er ‘Dubya, and his fatalistic dedication to enhanced interrogation techniques.
The answer was less than twenty-four hours it seems.
You may know Rep. Peter King (R-NY), as he is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. I know him as the Grade A douche bag Joe McCarthy wannabe who, despite FBI data proving the exact opposite, held Congressional hearings claiming American Muslims were hindering our efforts in the War on Terror.
No matter how one knows this bag of wind, his position in Congress makes him a fairly high-ranking member of the nation’s national security team. Not too high, obviously, but he gets briefed on things that other members of Congress do not.
The White House didn’t notify him in advance about the mission to capture or kill bin-Laden, but they did give him a courtesy call about an hour to ninety minutes before they announced the success of the mission. He appeared Monday night on the The O’Reilly Factor. Bill O’Reilly assumed that Rep. King must have some behind the scenes information to share. He asked King to tell him and his audience something they didn’t know, something that was not available in the press reports.
Rep. King replied by telling O’Reilly that the information that led to bin-Laden’s demise was obtained by waterboarding, The way in which this information was conveyed made it seem like King had obtained this news through his privileged position in Congress.
And, of course, it was immediately accepted as “the Gospel Truth” by right-wingers on all four corners of the earth.
The problem is that it isn’t true.
Marcy Wheeler is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to the timeline and torture of various detainees so my first stop was to check in with her.
Sure enough, she had already made an effort to debunk this talking point, which didn’t originate with King and was not a result of King being briefed on anything.
But, actually, Wheeler didn’t pick up on the most obvious evidence that waterboarding had nothing to do with finding bin-Laden. It’s right here in this ABC News piece, and it’s completely explicit.
The revelation that intelligence gleaned from the CIA‘s so-called black sites helped kill bin Laden was seen as vindication for many intelligence officials who have been repeatedly investigated and criticized for their involvement in a program that involved the harshest interrogation methods in U.S. history.
But Mohammed did not reveal the names while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said.
He identified them many months later under standard interrogation, they said, leaving it once again up for debate as to whether the harsh technique was a valuable tool or an unnecessarily violent tactic.
If that wasn’t enough, the Donald friggin’ Rumsfeld himself landed the deathblow to this utter falsehood:
“The United States Department of Defense did not do waterboarding for interrogation purposes to anyone. It is true that some information that came from normal interrogation approaches at Guantanamo did lead to information that was beneficial in this instance. But it was not harsh treatment and it was not waterboarding.”
Without any evidence, and without Rumsfeld’s blessing, it seems like conservatives are going to have to work a little bit harder at trying to take credit for bin Laden’s death.
Let me spend just a little time laying this out for you. This is what we know to be true.
Two men gave information that led to the identification of one of bin-Laden’s couriers. Both of those men were held in black sites in Europe. Both men were tortured, including with the waterboarding technique. But they didn’t give up the relevant information while they were being tortured.
The first detainee is alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He gave up the courier’s nickname under standard questioning, many months after he was tormented with incessant waterboarding.
Two years later, another detainee was captured and waterboarded. His name is Abu Faraj al-Libi. As Marcy details, al-Libi didn’t provide the man’s actual identity until long after his waterboarding had ceased, and not until after he was transferred from the black site to Guantanamo.
What Peter King is doing is conflating the facts.
Men who were waterboarded gave us the crucial information, ergo waterboarding works. More importantly, I suppose, waterboarding is permissible, even though it is torture, because it was essential to finding bin-Laden.
Except, it wasn’t essential. It didn’t work. Normal questioning worked.
If you are inclined to grasp at straws, and the Republicans certainly are seeing how almost 50% of them STILL think Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii, you could argue that the waterboarding softened them up. But that’s entirely speculative and it could just as easily be argued that it delayed the cooperation that led to the crucial clues.
It’s important that people know that Peter King went on television and told a bald-faced lie in the service of vindicating the use of torture. The very form of torture we executed Japanese soldiers for using on our troops in World War II.
And he did it all while misrepresenting himself as providing privileged information that only people of his importance have the clearance to know.
That’s a serious set of moral failings on Rep. Peter King’s part. It’s completely shameless and it makes him nothing more than a con man of the lowest ilk.
But from everything I have seen about this asshole it is to be expected.