karl_lembke (karl_lembke) wrote,

Interrogation – the controversy

(Saved here for my own reference...)

On Fox News, Bill O'Reilly interviewed Brian Ross on the subject of "coercive interrogation" techniques.

I couldn't find a transcript online, so here's one I put together.

(After the introductions)
Bill O'Reilly (O): Now I have to start with -- you used mostly anonymous sources for these stories, correct?

Brian Ross (R): In this case, yes.

O: All right.

R: Current and former CIA officers.

O: And that's -- you know, a little troubling -- it's hard to get behind a story, but sometimes you have to. Are you 100% sure that what these anonymous sources told you is true?

R: Yes.

O: 100%?

R: 100% -- we have enough sources.

O: I believe you. You've been around and you're the best in the business, I think, so I believe you.
Now you say that the CIA broke 14 top Al Qaeda leaders -- 14, is that correct?

R: They have 14 high value leaders they have kept in secret prisons and they have used these coercive techniques they have a --

O: On all 14

R: On all 14

O: Now they have Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Ramseh bin Elsheeb (?), Zubeita (?), all these guys, so all 14 were coerced, and the worst thing they did according to your report was waterboarding.

R: That is the most harshest of the treatments, and that is where a man is put upside down and they put a cellophane or a cloth over his mouth and they pour water -- it gives the impression that the person is drowning. Now some people liken it to a mock execution. It is very tough to withstand. When the CIA officers who are trained in these interrogations go through it themselves, some of them couldn't last more than 35 or 40 seconds.

O: Now the waterboarding broke all of these guys?

R: Not in every case. Some even before they got to that point.

O: Some when they kept them up or when they played loud music or kept in a cold room, or...

R: They start with the slap, and then a slap on the chest, and then the cold room and then sleep deprivation, which seems to be the most effective, but for some, the waterboarding is what it took.

O: OK. Now you say the guy who held out the longest was Khalid SM, who is the alleged mastermind behind 9/11.

R: That's right.

O: How long did he last?

R: about 2½ minutes, according to our CIA sources.

O: Do you know where they waterboarded him? Where they were?

R: I do not know where it was done.

O: OK. So he gave it up, and most of them gave it up within seconds of being waterboarded, correct:

R: 20-30 seconds is the most most people can take of this technique, it's that harsh.

O: Can this hurt you if they continue to do it? Can it kill you? Waterboarding?

R: IF they continued it it could, but essentially it creates a gag reflex where you think you are about to die -- you think you're drowning -- you're not.

O: OK, so nobody got permanently injured doing this that you know of?

R: Permanently physically injured, but some would argue there's a mental damage that would last

O: Oh, absolutely

R: that is essentially you would feel that you're about to die, and that has a certain effect.

O: Well according to

R: it's a mock execution.

O: According to your report, Ramzi bin al-shibh broke down and started sobbing. How did that happen?

R: it was just too tough. Some of these guys are not that tough. KSM was very tough. They actually threatened to do something to his children, who were captured in the course of picking him up, and he reportedly said, "That's OK, they'll see Allah sooner."

O: All right.

R: That didn't move him.

O: So in all 14 cases, coerced interrogation methods being debated in the SEnate right now were used and in all 14 cases according to your report they gave it up. Now, the opposition -- you just heard it -- Human Rights Watch, the ACLU, they say it's garbage. They told them what they wanted to hear, it wasn't truthful. Is that true?

R: That has happened in some cases, where the material that's been given has not been accurate, has been essentially to stop the torture, in the case of KSM, the information was very valuable, particularly names and addresses of people who were involved with Al Qaeda in this country and in Europe, and one particular plot that would involve an airline attack on the tallest building in Los Angeles known as the library tower.

O: In fact, you say in your report that more than a dozen plots -- a dozen Al Qaeda plots to kill people were stopped because of the information they got from coerced interrogation.

R: That's what we're told by our sources.

O: Do you believe that?

R: I do believe that.

O: Couldn't they be misleading you, couldn't they be for their points of view cause the CIA does want the latitude, couldn't they be maybe using you?

R: Well, Bill, in some of these cases, people talked to us because they actually oppose the techniques. They didn't like them. But nevertheless they recognized that they work. The real problem at the CIA seems to be they want to have the legal authority to do it or not do it at all. These guys don't want

O: They don't want to be in the shadow.

R: They don't want to be in a grand jury,

O: Sure, where they might get prosecuted, and Poindexter made that clear, and all the other guys made it clear, that you can't put these guys in possible ...

R: There are also some CIA officers who don't like it at all.

O: All right.

R: And they were our sources as well.

O: You are probably, outside of the agency and the military, the person who knows the most about what is happened to Al Qaeda in interrogation, because they have talked to you.

R: There's some other reporters as well.

O: Right, but you're up there. When you hear the human rights people come on this program and say it doesn't work, it never works, this is... What do you say?

R: I think it's an open debate, cause some there is information that doesn't hold up, but it's clear in several cases, with KSM, with people that absolutely beyond a doubt are terrorists, terrorist masterminds, it does seem to have an effect, and that's just the bottom line.

O: Has it saved American lives?

R: That's what the Administration would say. Certainly if you interrupt a tower -- a plot to bomb a tower in Los Angeles, you've saved lives.

O: Would you -- and I know you don't like to give opinion, you're a hard news reporter, but if you were reporting this story on O Reilly's position versus the Human Rights Watch -- and we're going to have the Human Rights Watch come right up behind -- would you say O Reilly is right?

R: You're not going to get that from me. I'm not going to say who's right or who's wrong.

O: All right, would you say the argument that I'm putting forth has a -- is fallacious?

R: The argument, at least to one or two people I know as a fact, is not fallacious.

O: OK. So what we're reporting -- that this kind of interrogation has worked and thwarted Al Qaeda plots, is true.

R: That is true. It has worked, it has thwarted plots.

O: OK. And then when you hear somebody say it never works, that's false.

R: Never's a very powerful word.

O: Then it's false.

R: I don't think that's the case.

O: OK. Good. I think I got it out of him, did I get it out of him everybody?

R: Because I want to be an honest broker of information.

O: Ross, I was going to say that. Ross cannot give an opinion and continue to investigate stuff on this level. And we understand that. But I want to make it crystal clear, what we have said is true, and what the opposition has said, overstating it, I believe, is false. In some regard. But we'll have Human Rights Watch, been listening to this whole thing, they're going to come in and they'll respond. Brian, always good to see you.

R: Thanks.

(end of clip)

Tags: politics, reference

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