Torture is defined as “the infliction of intense pain from burning, crushing or wounding.” In what appears to be a political effort to criminalize Bush era policy the Obama Administration has sanctioned the declassification and release of top secret memos. The communiqués outline, in detail, enhanced interrogation techniques used on Abu Zubaydah “…high ranking member of al Qaeda” and terrorist operations chief, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The controversy is based on the premise that enhanced interrogation is tantamount to torture and futile in obtaining vital information. The new administration contends that Bush coercion policy caused enemy combatants undue anguish and only served to morally diminish our ethical standing in a world.
Reflecting on the events of September 11th, 2001 reminds us that the victims who died or were injured at the hands of fanatical jihad warriors were the ones who were tortured, not the perpetrators. After the attack, captured al Qaeda leaders, Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, continued to arrogantly, “…celebrate the destruction of the World Trade Center” and sneer, along with Osama Bin Laden, at the grisly types of death and injury thousands suffered at the hands of the Mujahedin brotherhood.
Official documents show that while incarcerated both Zubaydah and Sheikh Mohammed lived comfortably and were always treated respectfully and humanely by their American captors. The kindness extended them did nothing to change their level of dedication to slaughter. Calm and unrepentant Zubaydah steadfastly remained, “…devoted to jihad…expressing unabated desire to kill Americans and Jews.”
The statistical data from 9-11 exposes how far both men went in dedication to furthering their cause. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah actively assisted in plotting the death of 2,819 innocent people, of whom only 289 maimed bodies were found intact, rejoicing together that 19,858 body parts were strewn throughout 1,506,124 pounds of debris. American jihad resulted in the dead suffering the disrespect of having their “…body parts…torsos and chunks of flesh” strewn in the streets together with “…airplane landing gear and car fires.”
Throughout the Bush years, policy attempted to prevent a similar devastating hit and took whatever measures necessary to protect the American people from having to suffer a catastrophe of such magnitude again. Enhanced interrogation was one of tools in the security cache that mined information from high value prisoners who were known to have key information that could save American lives.
The Bush Administration, in conjunction with CIA officials, believed that both Zubaydah and Sheikh Mohammed, “…had additional information they refused to divulge…regarding terrorist networks in the United States.” In an effort to ascertain critical intelligence the CIA decided “increased pressure” would successfully weaken the high value detainee’s “strong resolve” and provide the government with crucial information. It wasn’t until being subjected to enhanced interrogation that Abu Zubaydah gave up key details, which led to high profile terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s eventual capture.
Like his cohort, Sheikh Mohammed refused to respond to inquiries about impending plots and sadistically warned his inquisitors that “Soon, they will know.“ Without enhancement interrogation methods the CIA would have been ineffective in convincing the obstinate Jihadist to confess to managing “a cell for the production of biological weapons, such as anthrax.” Mohammed’s stress induced collaboration disrupted the Padilla plan to detonate a “dirty bomb” on American soil and prevented a “second wave” plot to crash a hijacked airliner into Los Angeles. Thanks to the forced cooperation of both Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, American lives were saved.
The types of enhanced interrogation declassified in the controversial memos include walling. Walling pulls the detainee forward and then pushes them back so their shoulders bounce off a false, flexible wall creating a loud intimidating sound. Unlike the explosion that shook the world when planes shattered through the World Trade Towers, walling is risk-free.
Through release of the memos mea culpas were offered for the use of confinement. Cramped confinement subjects the suspect to a dark, restricted space with the suggestion of a buzzing insect that is really a harmless caterpillar. Upon release, the captive is promptly attended to by a physician; a luxury those prematurely confined to their final resting place on 9-11 did not have the benefit of.
In comparison, terrorist detainee Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s interrogation sessions were quite unlike the type of imprisonment Port Authority officers experienced when trapped thirty-feet beneath the rubble of the World Trade Center for twenty-two hours. They were choked by dust and smoke and fire-balls tumbled into the hole that held their crushed bodies. Miraculously rescued from the fiery pile, one officer spent six-weeks in a medically induced coma, endured thirty surgeries and suffered extensive skin grafting to save his limbs.
Terrorists committed to Islam’s domination furthered their goal, on September 11th, by successfully torturing innocent victims who were dying of smoke inhalation, immolated or crushed under tons of cement. These sufferers endured so much pain that “…the skin on their bodies burnt off.” If given the choice of being forcibly questioned or being singed to the bone by a huge meteor-like fireball flashing out from a freight elevator shaft, 9-11 victims would prefer enhanced interrogation over terror, for sure.
Any suggestion that induced muscle fatigue is either immoral or inhumane renders America impotent as compared to an enemy who casually decapitates innocent people in an attempt to portray potency and commitment to higher ideals. The President’s policy suggests that even if benign forms of intimidation have proven effective in preventing nuclear or biological weapons from being detonated in American cities, its use still remains criminal.
The most divisive of all techniques white towel, water boarding or simulated drowning, was used by our CIA because it worked, “…after just 35 seconds under water” Zubaydah submitted information, which aided our nation in the world-wide war on terror and subverted plots here in the United States. The divisive memos stated that exposure to enhanced questioning worked to convince high value detainees to cooperate. “KSM and Zubaydah were pivotal sources because of their ability and willingness to provide … analysis and speculation about the capabilities, methodologies and mindsets of terrorists,” very possibly their aid was the primary reason Americans have not been attacked since September 11th.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Zubaydah reveled in Americans suffering. They praised Allah when desperate people chose to leap hundreds of floors to their deaths. The decision to declare war on Bush’s policies, and to publicly condemn effective coercion techniques, suggests to the world that al Qaeda warriors’ comfort levels take precedence over protecting American lives.
The President appears to be desperate for an opportunity to appease a befuddled sense of right and wrong. Rather than quelling the storm he is planning to extend the torture debate by releasing additional photos of non-sanctioned prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama’s torture policy makes him complicit in reaffirming antipathy toward America and jeopardizes eight years of successful national security.
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