For years, Bush administration officials, including UC Berkeley professor John Yoo, and even some Democrats, have defended our country's use of "harsh interrogation techniques" on the premise that they were trying to stop another 9/11. In other words, protecting innocent Americans from a deadly terrorist attack was worth abandoning one of our core principles - that civilized countries don't torture people. But we've known for a while now that this premise was likely false - despite the fact that Yoo, Dick Cheney, and Fox News keep repeating it. There is no evidence in the public record that torturing prisoners produced any reliable information that helped us foil terrorist plots. Quite the opposite. Torture got us nothing of value, while it ruined our country's moral standing in the world and put our soldiers at unnecessary risk of being tortured when they're captured. But now, we're starting to learn what may have been the real reason for why we tortured. And it's unbelievably outrageous.
According to a newly declassified report, we tortured prisoners for political reasons having to do with the Iraq War. Major Paul Burney, a United States Army psychiatrist assigned to interrogations in Guantánamo Bay in the summer of 2002, less than year before the war, told Army investigators of a White House imperative for torturing prisoners: "A large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq and we were not being successful." So as top Bush officials got more "frustrated" at the inability to prove this connection, the major said, "there was more and more pressure to resort to measures" that would.
In other words, we tortured al Qaeda prisoners so that they would tell us there was a link between Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein - a link that we have known definitively for years never existed. We tortured so that they would lie. And why would we do that? Because the Bush administration was desperate at the time to go to war with Iraq, and figured the best way to convince the country and Congress to do it was to torture prisoners into telling us there were ties between Iraq and the people responsible for September 11.
In the end, the prisoners gave the administration what it wanted, because that's what happens when you torture people, they'll tell you anything to get you to stop. And then once the Bush administration got its completely bogus "intelligence," we launched a horrible, unnecessary, and costly war. Now, how is it again that no one may be prosecuted for this?