NYTimes Op-Ed: Torture Makes Successful Interrogation Impossible

There was a nice op-ed piece by a former interrogator in the New York Times this weekend, in response to recent statements by former Vice President Cheney. Donald P. Gregg worked for the CIA for 30 years, including during the Vietnam War. In his op-ed, he recalls an occasion when humane treatment of a prisoner in Vietnam yielded “a flood of actionable intelligence” that allowed him to disrupt planned operations, including rocket attacks against Saigon, saving many lives. He concludes:

The key to successful interrogation is for the interrogator — even as he controls the situation — to recognize a prisoner’s humanity, to understand his culture, background and language. Torture makes this impossible.

There’s a sad twist here. Mr. Cheney forgets that the Bush administration followed this approach with some success. A high-value prisoner subjected to patient interrogation by an Arabic-speaking F.B.I. agent yielded highly useful information, including the final word on Iraq’s weapons programs.

His name was Saddam Hussein.

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Published on February 9, 2009

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