Arthur Herman, a neoconservative, has written an article entitled ‘The Gitmo Myth and the Torture Canard’ in which he attempts to justify the use of torture arguing, quite predictably, that such methods of interrogation give results. To prove his argument Herman provides the example of one so-called al Qaeda captive, Muhammad el-Qahtani who, Herman claims, is a Saudi national who was captured by U.S. forces on the border Pakistan and Afghanistan border in December 2001 and who, after intensive interrogation, “…picked out pictures of all nineteen of the 9/11 hijackers and called out their names—and admitted that he, not Zacarias Moussaoui, had been slated to be the twentieth hijacker”.
The problem with this story is that, as Herman reveals himself in his article, el-Qahtani didn’t divulge this ‘information’ until January 2003. By this time it was a well established fact that the names didn’t actually match the faces of at least seven of the supposed hijackers of the 9/11 aircraft since seven of those that the FBI originally named were still alive.
If el-Qahtani really was so intimately involved with the events of 9/11 as Herman suggests then he would have either have been able to have put the real names against the faces of the photographs he was shown of those who were accused of the hijackings or, alternatively, have told his interrogators that seven of the photos he was shown did not match the names of the hijackers he knew. If the hijackers really had stolen the identities of those that remain alive, el-Qahtani would have known about it. Herman can’t have it both ways; el-Qahtani either knew all of the names or knew all of the faces but he couldn’t possibly have put the names to the faces unless he’d been told to by his interrogators or simply told them what they wanted to hear having known before capture the names and faces the FBI had already put out – in which case, of course, Herman has undone his own argument in which he asserts torture works.
Clearly it doesn’t.
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