Water-boarding worked

May 08, 2011

Regarding your editorial arguing that renewed interest in water-boarding after the killing of Osama bin Laden is misplaced because it simply does not work and reflects poorly on the values of our nation ("Tortured arguments, revisited," May 5), I completely reject your reasoning.

The record regarding the interrogation of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed is clear. Initially, intelligence officers used traditional questioning techniques to gain information, and predictably, KSM remained defiant, silent and unhelpful.

Soon after being water-boarded his attitude miraculously changed and he was cooperative and helpful — even eagerly so. In fact, the information he provided was paramount in subverting and preventing the terrorist plot to blow up 13 airliners over the Pacific Ocean soon after the 9/11 attack. By all accounts, KSM provided a treasure of actionable intelligence that benefited the defense of our nation long after he was incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay.

In just the last couple of days, Leon Panetta, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, told Brian Williams of NBC News that the water-boarding of KSM provided actionable information that made the killing of bin Laden possible.

To say that actionable intelligence is just as likely to be gleaned through the use of traditional interrogation methods rather than through water-boarding is merely a talking point. It can't be proven one way or the other. Yet the people charged with the single most important responsibility of government, that of keeping our nation and society safe from attack, say that water-boarding works and the record proves them to be correct.

Even Democrats in the Congress, the Justice Department and the White House who cynically rebuff water-boarding, know it's value by the fact that they have never moved to make the practice illegal. When they controlled both Houses of Congress they could have moved to strip the method from among the available methods, but they did not. What does that say? You can draw your own conclusions.

I oppose the notion that our country must be susceptible to attack to prove our "values" and "morality" to the rest of the world. In fact, it is immoral for our government not to do everything necessary within the framework of our Constitution to keep our nation safe. I am disappointed that the editors of The Baltimore Sun do not share that belief.

Joel Rosenberg, Ellicott City

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