Sunday, June 07, 2009


Andrew Sullivan in 2007:

The longer this war goes on and the more we find out, the following scenario seems to me to be the best provisional explanation for a lot of what our secret, unaccountable, extra-legal war-government has been doing - and the countless mistakes which have been laid bare. On 9/11, Cheney immediately thought of the worst possible scenario: What if this had been done with WMDs? It has haunted him ever since - for good and even noble reasons. This panic led him immediately to think of Saddam. But it also led him to realize that our intelligence was so crappy that we simply didn't know what might be coming. That's why the decision to use torture was the first - and most significant - decision this administration made. It is integral to the intelligence behind the war on terror. And Cheney's bizarre view of executive power made it easy in his mind simply to break the law and withdraw from Geneva because torture, in his mind, was the only weapon we had...

But torture gives false information. And the worst scenarios that tortured detainees coughed up - many of them completely innocent, remember - may well have come to fuel US national security policy. And of course they also fueled more torture. Because once you hear of the existential plots confessed by one tortured prisoner, you need to torture more prisoners to get at the real truth. We do not know what actual intelligence they were getting, and Cheney has ensured that we will never know. But it is perfectly conceivable that the torture regime - combined with panic and paranoia - created an imaginationland of untruth and half-truth that has guided US policy for this entire war. It may well have led to the president being informed of any number of plots that never existed, and any number of threats that are pure imagination. And once torture has entered the system, you can never find out the real truth. You are lost in a vortex of lies and fears. In this vortex, the actual threats that we face may well be overlooked or ignored, as we chase false leads and pursue non-existent WMDs.

(Via Jay Rosen.)

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