Did Torture Work?

Former administration officials like Dick Cheney have defended torture as a valuable intelligence-gathering tool, but experts and experienced interrogators are much less confident of its returns. According to a review of documents and interviews with former intelligence officials by The New York Times, CIA officials used waterboarding on Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah even though his interrogators believed he had already divulged everything he knew in standard interrogations. Much of the torture inflicted on Zubaydah came despite later indications that his value to Al Qaeda had been highly exaggerated. One official told The Times that the harsher interrogations, unlike their more mild predecessors, produced no major intelligence breakthroughs but took a terrible toll on U.S. officials. “Seeing these depths of human misery and degradation has a traumatic effect,” the official told The Times.