Republicans these days present the reality-based community with a certain amount of labor intensive effort when it comes to providing responses to their statements and assertions, in particular, there is the burden of disentangling the portions of their statements which are monumentally stupid from those that are simply lies. I’m aware that say, Wolf Blitzer won’t come out and tell you Rick Santorum has said something incredibly stupid, because of course Wolf’s “journalistic” mission is not providing objective truth, but rather the appearance of balance, the relative value of this latter mission escaping me altogether. But I digress.
First, the stupid part of Rick Santorum’s comment: to put it in a nutshell, Rick Santorum claims John McCain, the Vietnam POW repeatedly tortured while in captivity in a prison camp doesn’t understand how torture and interrogation work; while he, Chicken Hawk Rick Santorum does, if you can actually believe even Rick Santorum could say something that galactically moronic and imbecilic. I’ve tried to resist, given the pattern of amazingly stupid things Republicans have been saying in recent times, forming the hypothesis that these statements reflect a basic, scientifically demonstrable truth: Republicans are very stupid. But comments such as Santorum’s aren’t helping at all, no sir, not at all.
INTERVIEWER: Now your former colleague, John McCain, said look, there’s no record, there’s no evidence here that these methods actually led to the capture or the killing of bin Laden. Do you disagree with that? Or do you think he’s got an argument?
RS: I don’t, everything I’ve read shows that we would not have gotten this information as to who this man was if it had not been gotten information from people who were subject to enhanced interrogation. And so this idea that we didn’t ask that question while Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was being waterboarded, he doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works. I mean, you break somebody, and after they’re broken, they become cooperative. And that’s when we got this information. And one thing led to another, and led to another, and that’s how we ended up with bin Laden.
Given all we know about John McCain’s biography, and what we know about Rick Santorum’s, the stupid part of Santorum’s comments are self-evident. However, all the rest of what he says falls under the classification: plain old lying. I suppose, we ought to give him a shred of the benefit of the doubt on the basis of the phrase, “everything I’ve read,” given that it is entirely possible he has avoided reading anything that could accurately inform him of the truth as strenuously as he avoids the flesh-eating ebola virus. Otherwise, however, Santorum is guilty of the same falsifications surrounding the intelligence gathering that led to bin Laden as other Bush era prevaricators, including the Cheney Twins, daughter and father Dick and Liz.
Despite an absence of participatory sources involved in the ten year process of intelligence gathering, analysis and interrogation providing verification that ANY integral piece of information leading to bin Laden was derived through “enhanced interrogation”; and despite the averring of innumerable professionals who have served the United States as experts in interrogation that torture and coercion are absolutely the least successful method for obtaining accurate information, the usual suspects from the Wingnut Division of American politics continue to insist not only that torture is the greatest intelligence gathering tool since a microphone in a lapel pin, but also that its effrontery to morality, American exceptionalism and basic human rights is something we should never bother our pretty little heads about.
But I suppose that rather than dwell on this single episode of cataclysmic dumbassery, we should be thankful for the gift to comedy today’s Republican presidential field remains, and concentrate on our good fortune in anticipation of the looming Republican primary debating season.
In the meantime, it should be noted that Greg Sargent at the Washington Post obtained the letter sent on May 9 by CIA Director Leon Panetta to Senator John McCain providing the definitive record of intelligence gathering pertaining to the location of bin Laden, and that its contents have been made public. They of course definitively debunk the claims that torture led us to bin Laden. A relevant excerpt:
Nearly 10 years of intensive intelligence work led the CIA to conclude that Bin Ladin was likely hiding at the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. there was no one “essential and indispensible” key piece of information that led us to this conclusion. Rather, the intelligence picture was developed via painstaking collection and analysis. Multiple streams of intelligence — including from detainees, but also from multiple other sources — led CIA analysts to conclude that Bin Ladin was at this compound. Some of the detainees who provided useful information about the facilitator/courier’s role had been subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques. Whether those techniques were the “only timely and effective way” to obtain such information is a matter of debate and cannot be established definitively. What is definitive is that that information was only a part of multiple streams of intelligence that led us to Bin Ladin.
Let me further point out that we first learned about the facilitator/courier’s nom de guerre from a detainee not in CIA custody in 2002. It is also important to note that some detainees who were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques attempted to provide false or misleading information about the facilitator/courier. These attempts to falsify the facilitator/courier’s role were alerting.
In the end, no detainee in CIA custody revealed the facilitator/courier’s full true name or specific whereabouts. This information was discovered through other intelligence means.