Does Waterboarding Work?

by Project Censored
Published: Updated:

To hear some tell it, the intelligence clues that ultimately led to Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan were generated by the use of torture. But the evidence available so far does not bear this out.

Torture advocates on the right are claiming vindication. On Fox News Channel’s O’Reilly Factor (5/2/11), Rep. Peter King (R.-N.Y.) announced that, “we obtained information several years ago, vital information about the courier for Obama [sic]. We obtained that information through waterboarding. And so for those who say that waterboarding doesn’t work, to say that it should be stopped and never used again– we got vital information which directly led to us bin Laden.”

This led O’Reilly to proclaim: “You’re not going to hear that on the other networks. I guarantee.”

Actually, talk about how water torture may have revealed the identity of bin Laden’s trusted courier could be heard widely. On the CBS Evening News (5/2/11), reporter David Martin said, “Some of the leads to that courier came out of the CIA’s secret prison where those Al-Qaeda captives were waterboarded.”

You would think that if the CIA’s interrogation of high-value detainees was all it took, the U.S. government would have succeeded in locating bin Laden before 2006, which is when the CIA’s custody of so-called “high-value detainees” ended…. This timeline doesn’t seem to provide a lot of support for the pro-torture narrative.

This “up for debate” conclusion is strange, given that evidence would suggest that the pro-torture side of the “debate” has little to support their case. And such discussions serve to reaffirm a media narrative that tries to normalize torture by making it a debate that prioritizes outcomes–i.e, Does it work?–over legality and morality.

Along with rethinking the Bush administration, there are many media voices suggesting we should be reevaluating the question of whether torture should be an accepted practice for the U.S. government. One can only hope the media treat the subject more carefully than they have in the past.

Ttile: Waterboarding Worked?

Source: Extra, May 4 2011

Author: Peter Hart



Student Researcher: Michael Guglielmo- Sonoma State University

Faculty Advisor: Lisa Pollack- Sonoma State University