A group of 15 former U.S. interrogation and intelligence officers repudiated the use of torture as a way to extract information from detained terrorists in a statement of principles yesterday.
"Torture and other inhumane and abusive interview techniques are unlawful, ineffective and counterproductive," said the document signed by each officer. "We reject them unconditionally."
The statement was a culmination of meetings last week organized by Human Rights First, a nonprofit advocacy organization, to set effective interrogation guidelines that did not jeopardize human rights.
According to Human Rights First:
The principles are based on the interrogators and intelligence officials’ experiences of what works and what does not in the field. Interrogation techniques that do not resort to torture yield more complete and accurate intelligence, they say. The principles call for the creation of a well-defined single standard of conduct in interrogation and detention practices across all U.S. agencies. At stake is the loss of critical intelligence and time, as well as the United States’ reputation abroad and its credibility in demanding the humane treatment of captured Americans.
All fifteen signers had served in an interrogation or intelligence position in the FBI, CIA , or the U.S. military.
The statement comes after The New York Times front page story on Sunday which described the interrogation techniques of 9-11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. The interrogation tactics successfully used to pull information out of Mohammed ranged from torture to rapport building, resurrecting the fault lines of the interrogation debate.
As the Times put it:
Did it suggest that traditional methods alone might have obtained the same information or more? Or did Mr. Mohammed talk so expansively because he feared more of the brutal treatment he had already endured?
The article says the answer will not be disclosed under the Bush Administration, which has "insisted in court that not a page of the 7,000 documents on the program can be made public."