I find it very disappointing, but not surprising, when writers such as C. Jiron (April 30) put pen to paper before they know what they're talking about. It happens quite often. In this case the allegation that torture "doesn't work" and "is useless." My assessment is expressed below based on publicly known facts. Sometimes facts get in the way of emotionally charged authors. If they are going to speak out on an important issue, they should consider the source of their biases first.
Three terrorists were ever waterboarded: Khalid Sheik Mohammad (KSM), Abu Zubayda and al-Nashiri, and ONLY when an imminent attack had been reasonably anticipated. Prior to waterboarding little information could be obtained from these men about the planned attack. By using other interrogation techniques, not only were these men non-cooperative, they were contemptuous of the U.S. With waterboarding this changed. With it KSM revealed the plan for another aerial attack on a L.A. skyscraper (no doubt the 1000-foot high U.S. Bank Tower). Also the information given up permitted the terrorist cell responsible for carrying that attack out to be eliminated. Waterboarding also allowed the capture of other high-level al Qaeda officials, Riduan Isamuddun, the Guraba cell and others...So the personnel who obtained this valuable data are heroes in my book.
I would think that any humane individual should value the saving of many American lives at the expense of some temporarily painful moments for a terrorist is a no-brainer. Dick Cheney is right: if you're going to release the CIA's interrogation techniques to the public, then the materials that reveal the positive developments that result should also be made public.
I find it very disappointing that the decision was made to make these techniques public, and that waterboarding has now been pulled from the table. Big mistakes.
Editor's note: President Bush acknowledged in a 2006 news conference that the LA plot was foiled in 2002, several years before waterboarding and other tactics were approved, according to an April report by McClatchy newspaper that also revealed that a formerly classified inspector general's report from 2004 showed that there was no evidence to show that torture tactics had yielded information about any specific terror plots.