John McCain: Stop Your Lying, Bush–Torture Apologists

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Longtime waterboarding foe John McCain is sick and tired of Bush administration alumni claiming that key information gathered from "enhanced interrogations" led the Obama administration to Osama bin Laden's hiding place. In an op-ed in this morning's Washington Post, he specifically called out Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey for claiming that, after waterboarding, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed gave up the nickname of the trusted courier bin Laden had been living with. "That is false," McCain wrote, citing a memo from CIA Director Leon Panetta that directly contradicted Mukasey's claim. "As we debate how the United States can best influence the course of the Arab Spring, can’t we all agree that the most obvious thing we can do is stand as an example of a nation that holds an individual’s human rights as superior to the will of the majority or the wishes of government?"

Then, this afternoon on the senate floor, he elaborated on Panetta's explanation. From the Plum Line's transcript:

The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. We did not first learn from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed the real name of bin Laden’s courier, or his alias, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — the man who ultimately enabled us to find bin Laden. The first mention of the name Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, as well as a description of him as an important member of Al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country. The United States did not conduct this detainee’s interrogation, nor did we render him to that country for the purpose of interrogation. We did not learn Abu Ahmed’s real name or alias as a result of waterboarding or any ‘enhanced interrogation technique’ used on a detainee in U.S. custody. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts, or an accurate description of his role in Al-Qaeda.

In fact, not only did the use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed not provide us with key leads on bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmed; it actually produced false and misleading information. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed specifically told his interrogators that Abu Ahmed had moved to Peshawar, got married, and ceased his role as an Al-Qaeda facilitator — which was not true, as we now know.

"In short, it was not torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees that got us the major leads that ultimately enabled our intelligence community to find Osama bin Laden," McCain concluded. "I hope former Attorney General Mukasey will correct his misstatement. It’s important that he do so because we are again engaged in this important debate, with much at stake for America’s security and reputation. Each side should make its own case, but do so without making up its own facts."

Wow, remember how fun it was when McCain didn't have to grin through his teeth and pretend to like George Bush? Looks like those days are back again!

John McCain to Bush apologists: Stop lying about Bin Laden and torture [NYT]