In 2015 the Senate voted to ban all forms of torture - often referred to as 'enhanced interrogation techniques' in the US, but an executive order Donald Trump is drafting looks to overturn that.
Appearing on ABC News, the president said he was planning to reopen CIA’s “black site” prisons.
On torture, he was similarly inclined. He said that, after talking with “people at the highest level of intelligence” about the use of torture as an effective interrogation method, he concluded “absolutely I feel it works”.
The effectiveness of coercive interrogative practices has been widely disproved, and a US report on ‘enhanced interrogation’ in 2014 concluded that it produced either no intelligence or “fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence”.
Take the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM). The 9/11 “mastermind” was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003. Despite this, the first time he revealed actionable intelligence was not until 2007, years after the waterboarding ended.
In 2011 a US intelligence report on the capture of Osama Bin Laden, stated:
Detainees gave us his nom de guerre or his nickname and identified him as both a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of September 11th, and a trusted assistant of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the former number three of al Qaeda who was captured in 2005.
Detainees also identified this man as one of the few al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin Laden. They indicated he might be living with and protecting bin Laden. But for years, we were unable to identify his true name or his location.
In the CIA report, CIA Headquarters indicated, in June 2003, that it “remained highly suspicious that KSM is withholding, exaggerating, misdirecting, or outright fabricating information”, and expressed concern about the veracity of information Mohammed provided, writing that he “consistently wavers” and “his information conveniently lack[s] sufficient detail [to be] actionable intelligence".
It was not until 2007, that US intelligence uncovered the identity of the courier for Bin Laden, Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti.
Four years ago, we uncovered his identity, and for operational reasons, I can’t go into details about his name or how we identified him, but about two years ago, after months of persistent effort, we identified areas in Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated.
Additionally, a number of interrogators confirmed that they did not get any useful information from KSM as a result of waterboarding.
Mark Fallon, a former interrogator at Guantanamo Bay, said:
I was privy to the information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at the time. I'm not aware of any information or intelligence that was a product from water boarding.
More damning still, the report indicates that:
The most accurate information on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti obtained from a CIA detainee was provided by a CIA detainee who had not yet been subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.