Sen. John McCain, R-AZ on Wednesday called water boarding torture and said the information that lead to Osama bin Laden did not come from detainees subjected to the interrogation technique.
Citing Leon Panetta, the CIA director, McCain said the trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Mohammed.
McCain was reacting to a statement from former Bush administration attorney general Michael Mukasey who said the intelligence came from Mohammed who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included water boarding. He loosed a torrent of information - including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden.
That is false, McCain said.
The first mention of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti - the nickname of the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately led us to bin Laden - as well as a description of him as an important member of al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country, who we believe was not tortured. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed's real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al-Qaeda, McCain said.
McCain said the enhanced interrogation techniques used on Mohammed produced false and misleading information. He specifically told his interrogators that Abu Ahmed had moved to Peshawar, got married and ceased his role as an al-Qaeda facilitator - none of which was true. According to the staff of the Senate intelligence committee, the best intelligence gained from a CIA detainee - information describing Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti's real role in al-Qaeda and his true relationship to bin Laden - was obtained through standard, noncoercive means.
I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners sometimes produces good intelligence but often produces bad intelligence because under torture a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear - true or false - if he believes it will relieve his suffering. Often, information provided to stop the torture is deliberately misleading, he said.