by Patrick Appel
Michael Scherer lists "five important revelations" from the IG report. Number four:
The CIA IG concluded that while high-value detainees did produce valuable intelligence, the measurement of the effectiveness of harsh interrogation techniques “is a more subjective process and not without some concern.” The CIA lists four reasons for this muddled view. First, “the Agency cannot determine with any certainty the totality of the intelligence the detainee actually possesses.” Second, “each detainee has different fears of and tolerence for” harsh techniques. Third, “the application of the same” harsh technique “by different interrogators may have different results.” The fourth reason that the CIA IG found the effectiveness of harsh techniques could not be known objectively remains classified, and was redacted on the released document.
Ackerman expands on this point:
In the absence of information, “the assumption at Headquarters” became that if a detainee wasn’t giving interrogators what they wanted, it was because the detainee hadn’t been sufficiently tortured. “Consequently, Headquarters recommended resumption of EITs [enhanced interrogation techniques].” There became no way for a detainee to prove that he didn’t know something. In that way, once torture was introduced, a prudential interrogator calculation he probably knows more became a license to continue the torture.
The documents released yesterday prove nothing about torture's effectiveness, but Cheney is claiming victory. I guess after "death panels" reality is whatever you make it. This reminds me of a line from Mark Danner's speech from 2007 on the reality that the Bush administration encased itself in.
The ceremony served not to proclaim truth but rather to assert and embody a proposition that has been central to the current administration: Truth is subservient to power. Power, rightly applied, makes truth.
Cheney embodies that definition of "truth" better than anyone else.
(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty.)