Jack Bauer Tactics Used In Attempt to Establish Non-Existent Iraq-al Qaida Link
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Most of the defenses for torture involve some variation on a Jack Bauer fantasy -- to stop the proverbial ticking time-bomb, U.S. officials have to be able to do literally anything to acquire intelligence to save lives.
There are all kinds of problems with this, of course, most notably the fact that "24" is a fictional television program. But as new evidence comes to light about the Bush administration's policies, it's also worth noting that life-saving wasn't always the goal of torture.
The Bush administration put relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.
Such information would've provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush's main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003. No evidence has ever been found of operational ties between Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and Saddam's regime.
The use of abusive interrogation -- widely considered torture -- as part of Bush's quest for a rationale to invade Iraq came to light as the Senate issued a major report tracing the origin of the abuses and President Barack Obama opened the door to prosecuting former U.S. officials for approving them.
A former senior U.S. intelligence official with direct knowledge of the interrogation issue told McClatchy, "There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used. The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there."
Steve Benen is "blogger in chief" of the popular Washington Monthly online blog, Political Animal . His background includes publishing The Carpetbagger Report, and writing for a variety of publications, including Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Air America Radio's "Sam Seder Show," and XM Radio's "POTUS '08."