Lawrence Wilkerson has a must-read on what he now believes is the real reason Cheney was so insistent on torturing prisoners - he needed proof of an al Qaeda-Saddam connection to justify the war he had already decided to wage. This really is the explosive charge, because it reveals the real danger of torture in the hands of big government: it means our leaders can manufacture facts to justify anything. It gives them the crucial weapon they need to, as Ron Suskind's famous source explained, "create reality":

What I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002--well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion--its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida.

So furious was this effort that on one particular detainee, even when the interrogation team had reported to Cheney's office that their detainee "was compliant" (meaning the team recommended no more torture), the VP's office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods.

The detainee had not revealed any al-Qa'ida-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, "revealed" such contacts. Of course later we learned that al-Libi revealed these contacts only to get the torture to stop.

There in fact were no such contacts. (Incidentally, al-Libi just "committed suicide" in Libya. Interestingly, several U.S. lawyers working with tortured detainees were attempting to get the Libyan government to allow them to interview al-Libi....)

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.