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Our Nation In Ruins
U.S. War Crimes

No U.S. Torture. No Exceptions. Ever.
Prosecutions Required.

Former Interrogator Rebukes Cheney For Terror Speech

Brave New Films May 25 2009: Dick Cheney says that torturing detainees has saved American lives. That claim is patently false. Cheney's torture policy was directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of American servicemen and women.

Matthew Alexander was the senior military interrogator for the task force that tracked down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq and, at the time, a higher priority target than Osama bin Laden. Mr. Alexander has personally conducted hundreds of interrogations and supervised over a thousand of them.

"Torture does not save lives. Torture costs us lives," Mr. Alexander said in an exclusive interview at Brave New Studios. "And the reason why is that our enemies use it, number one, as a recruiting tool...These same foreign fighters who came to Iraq to fight because of torture and abuse....literally cost us hundreds if not thousands of American lives."

Huffington Post has the full story.

Keith Olbermann: The Future of the U.S. Depends On Torture Accountability

The Smoking Gun On Torture
Condoleezza Rice Busted!

ABC: Top Advisers Approved Torture
Emptywheel: Who Brought Condi Down?
Hullabaloo: Torture Nation
ThinkProgress: U.S. Foreign Service Says Rice Doing "Poor Job"
OpenLeft: Nothing to Fear from McCain's VP
Obama Would "Immediately Review" Crimes of Bush Admin
Please Sign "Condi Must Go!" Petition

President Barack Obama Approves, Protects Torture Officials
Known U.S. torture of prisoners will have no consequences

U.S. Waterboarding: 183 Times In One Month On One Prisoner, 83 Times In One Month On Second; 266 Separate Crimes Against Humanity
By Scott Shane
(Edited, embedded links in Original Story)
Apr 20 2009

C.I.A. interrogators used waterboarding, the near-drowning technique that top Obama administration officials have described as illegal torture, 266 times on two key prisoners from Al Qaeda, far more than had been previously reported.

The C.I.A. officers used waterboarding at least 83 times in August 2002 against Abu Zubaydah, according to a 2005 Justice Department legal memorandum. Abu Zubaydah has been described as a Qaeda operative.

A former C.I.A. officer, John Kiriakou, told ABC News and other news media organizations in 2007 that Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew.

The 2005 memo also says that the C.I.A. used waterboarding 183 times in March 2003 against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The New York Times reported in 2007 that Mr. Mohammed had been barraged more than 100 times with harsh interrogation methods, causing C.I.A. officers to worry that they might have crossed legal limits and to halt his questioning. But the precise number and the exact nature of the interrogation method was not previously known.

The release of the numbers is likely to become part of the debate about the morality and efficacy of interrogation methods that the Justice Department under the Bush administration declared legal even though the United States had historically treated them as torture.

President Obama plans to visit C.I.A. headquarters Monday and make public remarks to employees, as well as meet privately with officials, an agency spokesman said Sunday night. It will be his first visit to the agency, whose use of harsh interrogation methods he often condemned during the presidential campaign and whose secret prisons he ordered closed on the second full day of his presidency.

C.I.A. officials had opposed the release of the interrogation memo, dated May 30, 2005, which was one of four secret legal memos on interrogation that Mr. Obama ordered to be released last Thursday.

Mr. Obama said C.I.A. officers who had used waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods with the approval of the Justice Department would not be prosecuted. He has repeatedly suggested that he opposes Congressional proposals for a “truth commission” to examine Bush administration counterterrorism programs, including interrogation and warrantless eavesdropping.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has begun a yearlong, closed-door investigation of the C.I.A. interrogation program, in part to assess claims of Bush administration officials that brutal treatment, including slamming prisoners into walls, shackling them in standing positions for days and confining them in small boxes, was necessary to get information.

The fact that waterboarding was repeated so many times may raise questions about its effectiveness, as well as about assertions by Bush administration officials that their methods were used under strict guidelines.

A footnote to another 2005 Justice Department memo released Thursday said waterboarding was used both more frequently and with a greater volume of water than the C.I.A. rules permitted.

The new information on the number of waterboarding episodes came out over the weekend when a number of bloggers, including Marcy Wheeler of the blog emptywheel, discovered it in the May 30, 2005, memo.

The sentences in the memo containing that information appear to have been redacted from some copies but are visible in others. Initial news reports about the memos in The New York Times and other publications did not include the numbers.

Michael V. Hayden, director of the C.I.A. for the last two years of the Bush administration, would not comment when asked on the program “Fox News Sunday” if Mr. Mohammed had been waterboarded 183 times. He said he believed that that information was still classified.

A C.I.A. spokesman, reached Sunday night, also would not comment on the new information.

Mr. Hayden said he had opposed the release of the memos, even though President Obama has said the techniques will never be used again, because they would tell Al Qaeda “the outer limits that any American would ever go in terms of interrogating an Al Qaeda terrorist.”

He also disputed an article in The New York Times on Saturday that said Abu Zubaydah had revealed nothing new after being waterboarded, saying that he believed that after unspecified “techniques” were used, Abu Zubaydah revealed information that led to the capture of another terrorist suspect, Ramzi Binalshibh.

The Times article, based on information from former intelligence officers who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Abu Zubaydah had revealed a great deal of information before harsh methods were used and after his captors stripped him of clothes, kept him in a cold cell and kept him awake at night. The article said interrogators at the secret prison in Thailand believed he had given up all the information he had, but officials at headquarters ordered them to use waterboarding.

He revealed no new information after being waterboarded, the article said, a conclusion that appears to be supported by a footnote to a 2005 Justice Department memo saying the use of the harshest methods appeared to have been “unnecessary” in his case.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Justice Dept. Memos' Careful Legalese Obscured Harsh Torture Realities

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Apr 19 2009
Original story
[Despite the legalese and careful instructions, all of the limitations on torture imposed by these memos were violated grossly and repeatedly. Also, two-thirds of the prisoners at Guantanamo are -- and were always -- innocent, according to the U.S. government.]

The four Justice Department memos to the CIA's top lawyer that were released last week reflect an effort by Bush administration appointees to create finely tuned justifications for harsh interrogation techniques, all under a blanket of secrecy covering the agency's prisons and the questioning.

In the wake of the memos' disclosure, it is clear that the lawyers and the CIA got it wrong in measuring the methods against their selected legal test: that they must not "shock the conscience." The brutality of the interrogation measures -- including repeatedly slamming people into walls, simulating their drowning and stuffing them into dark, constricting boxes -- shocked the conscience of at least some.

President Obama said the approved techniques "undermine our moral authority and do not make us safer." Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair said that although the CIA was urgently trying to get information after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, its "methods, read on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009, appear graphic and disturbing."

To supporters of the Bush-era practices, the length, precision and detail of the memos show that -- even in the absence of public scrutiny -- legal red lines were carefully considered and that precautions were taken to avoid causing death or what the memos' authors considered illegal pain.

To critics, the sterile wording and articulation of seemingly arbitrary safeguards to sanction what many consider torture evoke totalitarianism.

To endorse the CIA's interrogation plans, the experts in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel had to parse highly specific terminology in a collection of relatively recent U.S. anti-torture statutes, international laws and treaties, with few directly applicable judicial rulings to serve as guideposts. They also had to weigh contemporary politics, since the "shock the conscience" test was a target they knew would move.

The solution chosen was to slice the apple thin and eat only a portion. Interrogators could shackle detainees to floors or ceilings to keep them awake for more than seven days, but they had to allow a normal period of sleep before starting again. They could pack them into tight, dark containers for more than eight hours at a time but had to allow a total of six hours outside the box every day.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists called such boundaries a way to justify illegal, cruel, inhumane, degrading and torturous treatment. American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Jameel Jaffer, whose lawsuit helped propel the memos' disclosure, called their arguments "window dressing for war crimes" because they were "meant to support conclusions that were predetermined" rather than to produce a credible reading of the law.

But former attorney general Michael B. Mukasey, writing with former CIA director Michael V. Hayden in Friday's Wall Street Journal, said the techniques described in the memos were reasonable for use by experienced interrogators "in controlled circumstances" on a special subset of detainees. They complained that the disclosure of the "absolute limit of what the U.S. government could do to extract information" will allow terrorists to practice enduring such techniques.

The memos supported manipulating detainees' diets; forcibly grabbing or slapping their faces and striking them in the gut; enforcing lengthy, stressful and uncomfortable standing or sitting positions; and hosing them with cold water for at least 20-minute periods while the detainees wore only a diaper.

Interrogators were further told that they could "exploit the detainee's fear of being seen naked" by women and others, and that various forms of rough physical treatment could be used to promote the idea that prisoners would be subjected to "increasing levels of force."

Several experts, including Columbia Law School adjunct professor and commentator Scott Horton, noted that the Justice Department even approved of the modern equivalent of the Ministry of Love's Room 101 from George Orwell's "1984," where prisoners were forcibly threatened with physical manifestations of their greatest fears.

In the book, Winston Smith's jailers threaten to place a cage of rats atop his head; at a secret CIA prison, U.S. officers were told, it was okay to place al-Qaeda member Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, known as Abu Zubaida, into a cramped box and pretend to insert an insect that he feared would sting him.

"You have informed us that he appears to have a fear of insects," noted then-Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee in an Aug. 1, 2002, memo to John A. Rizzo, who was then and remains the CIA's acting general counsel.

The Justice Department made clear that its approval of other techniques was also contingent on finely slicing the apple: Doctors had to evaluate in advance the ability of each detainee to survive the coercion; slaps to the head and gut could not provoke severe or lasting pain; the water used for dousing had to be safe for drinking, and those holding the hose had to stop at two-thirds of the time that normally causes hypothermia.

Detainees could not be allowed to hang from their shackles. Simulated drowning could be practiced only with a saline solution, to keep blood sodium levels in a safe range, with the liquid poured for up to 40 seconds at a time, reaching a total of 12 minutes per day. Moreover, the detainees had to be fed a liquid diet in advance, to keep them from choking on their own vomit.

David B. Rivkin Jr., a lawyer at Baker Hostetler who supported the detainee policies, says the memos' "careful and nuanced legal analysis" of such trade-offs produced "eminently reasonable results."

But a frequent complaint by other lawyers was that the documents' language, including the articulation of precisely calibrated limits, was circular. The memos relied heavily on the CIA's assurances and information about the limits of pain and suffering, and repeated them in their instructions.

A senior Obama appointee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment, said, "My overwhelming feeling is, boy, what a kind of corruption of the system of law to serve a political end." Tax lawyers, for instance, may always work at the edge of the law, he said, but "you don't treat the [anti-]torture convention the same as the tax code."

Louis Michael Seidman, a constitutional law professor at Georgetown University, said the memos' authors fell into a familiar trap: They looked so hard for legal authority that they paid too little heed to sound intuition. Sometimes, he said, "the law promotes rather than stands in the way of morally reprehensible behavior."

"People who get too caught up in technical legal analysis sometimes lose sight of their moral compass," Seidman said. Anyone who got away from the law and thought deeply about the fact that the CIA's methods were being practiced on human beings "would come away with very different conclusions."

Comprehensive coverage by The New York Times


Tear down your pixel

Listen to Amnesty International's U.S.A. Advocacy Director Jumana Musa's first-hand report of the Feb 2008 military "trial" of Omar Khadr, a citizen of Canada, who was picked up at 15 years old six years ago, held and tortured at Guantánamo, where among other charges he is accused of being part of a conspiracy which began when he was 10 years old! Despite his age and international laws protecting children, Omar Khadr is a chargeable "person" under the rules of the Military Tribunals Act which does not specify age according to the U.S. governement. So that they can continue to hold, torture and try Omar Khadr, they have clarified that for the purposes of the MTA the definition of a person is someone who has been born alive. Of course, this flies in the face of a government which says a person is a person beginning at conception. Theoretically, under their new definition of a person chargeable under the Military Tribunals Act, six-month-old babies could be held in Guantánamo without charges indefinitely.
"If it were up to me I would close Guantánamo not tomorrow but this afternoon . . . Essentially, we have shaken the belief that the world had in America's justice system . . . and it's causing us far more damage than any good we get from it." -- Jun 10 2007, Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State for The Wuss [George W. ("The Wuss" - his daddy used up "The Wimp") Bush] Video source
Close Gitmo - Wear Orange Jan 11 2008
Close Gitmo!
Wear Orange Jan 11 2008
6 years since Gitmo took its first "disappeared"

John Bolton Charge Sheet:
George Monbiot's List Of Accusations

By George Monbiot
Apr 28 2008

We are conducting a citizen’s arrest for the crime of aggression, as established by customary international law and described by Nuremberg Principles VI and VII.

These state the following:

"Principle VI

The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:

(a) Crimes against peace:

(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;

(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i)

"Principle VII

Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law."

The evidence against you is as follows:

1. You orchestrated the sacking of the head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Jose Bustani. Bustani had offered to resolve the dispute over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, and therefore to avert armed conflict. He had offered to seek to persuade Saddam Hussein to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, which would mean that Iraq was then subject to weapons inspections by the OPCW. As the OPCW was not tainted by the CIA's infiltration of UNSCOM, Bustani's initiative had the potential to defuse the crisis over Saddam Hussein's obstruction of UNMOVIC inspections.

Apparently in order to prevent the negotiated settlement that Bustani proposed, and as part of a common plan with other administration officials to prepare and initiate a war of aggression, in violation of international treaties, you acted as follows:

In March 2002 your office produced a ‘White Paper’ claiming that the OPCW was seeking an “inappropriate role” in Iraq.

On 20th March 2002 you met Bustani at the Hague to seek his resignation. Bustani refused to resign. (Charles J Hanley, Associated Press, 5 June, 2005)

On 21st March 2002 you orchestrated a No-Confidence Motion calling for Bustani to resign as Director General which was introduced by the United States delegation. The motion failed.

On 22nd April 2002 the US called a special session of the conference of the States Parties and the Conference adopted the decision to terminate the appointment of the Director General effective immediately. You had suggested that the US would withhold its dues from OPCW. The motion to sack Bustani was carried. Bustani asserts that this ‘special session’ was illegal, in breach of his contract and gave illegitimate grounds for his dismissal, stating a ‘lack of confidence’ in his leadership, without specific examples, and ignoring the failed No-Confidence vote.

In your book, Surrender is Not an Option, you describe your role in Bustani's sacking (pages 95-98) and state the following:

"I directed that we begin explaining to others that the US contribution to the OPCW might well be cut if Bustani remained".

"I met with Bustani to tell him he should resign ... If he left now, we would do our best to give him 'a gracious and dignified exit'. Otherwise we intended to have him fired".

"I stepped in to tank the protocol, and then to tank Bustani".

You appear, in other words, to accept primary responsibility for his dismissal.

Bustani appealed against the decision through the International Labour Organisation Tribunal. He was vindicated in his appeal and awarded his full salary and moral damages.

  • (The tribunal ruling can be found here )

2. You helped to promote the false claim, through a State Department Fact Sheet, that Saddam Hussein had been seeking to procure uranium from Niger, as part of a common plan to prepare and initiate a war of aggression, in violation of international treaties.

The State Department Fact Sheet was released on the 19th December 2002 and was entitled ‘Illustrative Examples of Omissions From the Iraqi Declaration to the United States Security Council’. Under the heading ‘Nuclear Weapons’ the fact sheet stated –

"The Declaration ignores efforts to procure uranium from Niger.

Why is the Iraqi regime hiding their uranium procurement?"

In a US Department of State press briefing on July 14th 2003 the spokesman Richard Boucher said, “The accusation that turned out to be based on fraudulent evidence is that Niger sold uranium to Iraq.”

Your involvement in the use of fraudulent evidence is documented in Henry Waxman’s letter to Christopher Shays on the 1st March 2005. Waxman says “In April 2004, the State Department used the designation ‘sensitive but unclassified’ to conceal unclassified information about the role of John Bolton, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control, in the creation of a fact sheet distributed to the United Nations that falsely claimed that Iraq sought uranium from Niger”.

“Both State Department intelligence officials and CIA officials reported that they had rejected the claims as unreliable. As a result, it was unclear who within the State Department was involved in preparing the fact sheet”.

Waxman requested a chronology of how the Fact Sheet was developed. His letter states –

“This chronology described a meeting on December 18,2002, between Secretary Powell, Mr. Bolton, and Richard Boucher, the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Public Affairs. According to this chronology, Mr. Boucher specifically asked Mr. Bolton ‘for help developing a response to Iraq's Dec 7 Declaration to the United Nations Security Council that could be used with the press.’ According to the chronology, which is phrased in the present tense, Mr. Bolton ‘agrees and tasks the Bureau of Nonproliferation,’ a subordinate office that reports directly to Mr. Bolton, to conduct the work.

"This unclassified chronology also stated that on the next day, December 19, 2003, the Bureau of Nonproliferation "sends email with the fact sheet, 'Fact Sheet Iraq Declaration.doc,'" to Mr. Bolton's office (emphasis in original). A second e-mail was sent a few minutes later, and a third e-mail was sent about an hour after that. According to t=987e chronology, each version ‘still includes Niger reference.’ Although Mr. Bolton may not have personally drafted the document, the chronology appears to indicate that he ordered its creation and received updates on its development.”

Both these actions were designed to assist in the planning of a war of aggression. The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg ruled that "to initiate a war of aggression ... is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime".

Canada violating Geneva treaty in Afghanistan torture
Opposition accuses government of hiding reports
Presses demand for immediate end to detainee transfers

17 Nov 2007
Opposition MPs have called on the government to order the Canadian Forces to halt the transfer of detainees to the government of Afghanistan, alleging that Canada has violated the Geneva Conventions by permitting prisoner abuse torture to continue. Liberal defense critic Denis Coderre alleged in the House of Commons yesterday that government documents released this week prove that the government knew that torture was taking place in Afghan prisons and did nothing. "For months, the government tried to hide specific reports on torture," Mr. Coderre said during Question Period. "These reports of torture are now confirmed. Canada must stop the transfer of detainees or it will continue to violate the Geneva Conventions."

No NATO prisons
Canada's General Ray Henault rejects Amnesty's call for NATO-run prisons
The Toronto Star Nov 17 2007
Canadian Gen. Ray Henault, the chair of NATO's military committee, rejected accusations that there is "systematic" torture in Afghan jails or at the hands of its secret police and said he is not aware of any individual cases of abuse. "But it would probably be inappropriate for me to say that there is nothing like that that ever happens in Afghanistan."
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai told police Tuesday to stop torturing suspects, including those involved in a Taliban-led insurgency marked by acts of brutality. Speaking to more than 100 senior police officials in Kabul, President Karzai said people were still being tortured despite improvements in his US-backed government's prison system. President Karzai warned the country's police against using physical abuse and has launched an inquiry into torture allegations. In the meantime, NATO's military committee chair, Canada's Gen. Ray Henault said responsibility for improving Afghanistan's prisons falls to organizations like the Red Cross, Afghanistan's human rights body and the government, not NATO. AFP Nov 06 2007
Canada ends transfers to Afghan jails due to abuse allegation
Catches NATO off guard

Jan 25 2008
Tonda MacCharles
Bruce Campion-Smith
Ottawa Bureau
OTTAWA–Canada's allies knew nothing about a Canadian decision to stop turning over battlefield detainees to the Afghan authorities, and opposition parties in Ottawa are charging cover-up over the whole affair. Even the independent panel that reported this week on the future of Canada's Afghan mission and called for more transparency from the government was unaware of the policy change. News of Canada's change in handling prisoners caused surprise both in Washington and at NATO headquarters in Brussels. In a letter to two human rights groups this week, federal government lawyers said the military stopped sending suspected insurgents to local Afghan authorities right after a Nov. 5 allegation of abuse by one prisoner. The two groups are in court seeking an order that would force the military to end the handing over of detainees to the Afghans, arguing that prisoners face a reasonable chance of being mistreated. "They should have given this information to Canadians. We asked questions again and again in the House about the possibility of torture and they never answered that they stopped the transfer because of evidence of torture," Dion told reporters at Queen's Park after meeting with Premier Dalton McGuinty.

MPs who have been pressing the government for months to halt prisoner transfers reacted with shock yesterday after discovering that the Canadian military had secretly done just that after getting a credible report of abuse from an Afghan jail on Nov. 5.

"Now we know there was a cover-up for the last three months," Liberal MP Denis Coderre (Bourassa) said, vowing that the issue will be front and centre Monday when MPs return to the House of Commons. "The time has come for the government to tell us the truth," Coderre said in a telephone interview from Berlin. "Canadians deserve answers." New Democrat MP Dawn Black, the party's defense critic, said she was mocked and derided by the Conservatives for raising questions about the detainee transfers but now her concerns about mistreatment have been proven true. And she questioned why the Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier, and Defense Minister Peter MacKay didn't acknowledge the change in policy when quizzed repeatedly in the Commons last fall.

Video below: Apr 14 1994 Dick Cheney explains why George H.W. ("The Wimp") Bush did not move the military into Baghdad and remove Sadam Hussein, and at the same time exposes the careless, craven actions of George W. ("The Wuss") Bush, who ignored all knowledge and facts when years later he committed the war crime of invading and occupying that helpless sovereign nation.

My Tortured Decision
By Ali Soufan, The New York Times Op-Ed Contributor
Published Apr 22 2009
Original article

FOR seven years I have remained silent about the false claims magnifying the effectiveness of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding. I have spoken only in closed government hearings, as these matters were classified. But the release last week of four Justice Department memos on interrogations allows me to shed light on the story, and on some of the lessons to be learned.

One of the most striking parts of the memos is the false premises on which they are based. The first, dated August 2002, grants authorization to use harsh interrogation techniques on a high-ranking terrorist, Abu Zubaydah, on the grounds that previous methods hadn’t been working. The next three memos cite the successes of those methods as a justification for their continued use.

It is inaccurate, however, to say that Abu Zubaydah had been uncooperative. Along with another F.B.I. agent, and with several C.I.A. officers present, I questioned him from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August. Under traditional interrogation methods, he provided us with important actionable intelligence.

We discovered, for example, that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Abu Zubaydah also told us about Jose Padilla, the so-called dirty bomber. This experience fit what I had found throughout my counterterrorism career: traditional interrogation techniques are successful in identifying operatives, uncovering plots and saving lives.

There was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained from regular tactics. In addition, I saw that using these alternative methods on other terrorists backfired on more than a few occasions — all of which are still classified. The short sightedness behind the use of these techniques ignored the unreliability of the methods, the nature of the threat, the mentality and modus operandi of the terrorists, and due process.

Defenders of these techniques have claimed that they got Abu Zubaydah to give up information leading to the capture of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a top aide to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and Mr. Padilla. This is false. The information that led to Mr. Shibh’s capture came primarily from a different terrorist operative who was interviewed using traditional methods. As for Mr. Padilla, the dates just don’t add up: the harsh techniques were approved in the memo of August 2002, Mr. Padilla had been arrested that May.

One of the worst consequences of the use of these harsh techniques was that it reintroduced the so-called Chinese wall between the C.I.A. and F.B.I., similar to the communications obstacles that prevented us from working together to stop the 9/11 attacks. Because the bureau would not employ these problematic techniques, our agents who knew the most about the terrorists could have no part in the investigation. An F.B.I. colleague of mine who knew more about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed than anyone in the government was not allowed to speak to him.

It was the right decision to release these memos, as we need the truth to come out. This should not be a partisan matter, because it is in our national security interest to regain our position as the world’s foremost defenders of human rights. Just as important, releasing these memos enables us to begin the tricky process of finally bringing these terrorists to justice.

The debate after the release of these memos has centered on whether C.I.A. officials should be prosecuted for their role in harsh interrogation techniques. That would be a mistake. Almost all the agency officials I worked with on these issues were good people who felt as I did about the use of enhanced techniques: it is un-American, ineffective and harmful to our national security.

Fortunately for me, after I objected to the enhanced techniques, the message came through from Pat D’Amuro, an F.B.I. assistant director, that “we don’t do that,” and I was pulled out of the interrogations by the F.B.I. director, Robert Mueller (this was documented in the report released last year by the Justice Department’s inspector general).

My C.I.A. colleagues who balked at the techniques, on the other hand, were instructed to continue. (It’s worth noting that when reading between the lines of the newly released memos, it seems clear that it was contractors, not C.I.A. officers, who requested the use of these techniques.)

As we move forward, it’s important to not allow the torture issue to harm the reputation, and thus the effectiveness, of the C.I.A. The agency is essential to our national security. We must ensure that the mistakes behind the use of these techniques are never repeated. We’re making a good start: President Obama has limited interrogation techniques to the guidelines set in the Army Field Manual, and Leon Panetta, the C.I.A. director, says he has banned the use of contractors and secret overseas prisons for terrorism suspects (the so-called black sites). Just as important, we need to ensure that no new mistakes are made in the process of moving forward — a real danger right now.

Ali Soufan was an F.B.I. supervisory special agent from 1997 to 2005.

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