Some have used the death of Osama bin Laden as evidence to support the use of torture—but claims that such techniques led us to the al-Qaeda leader are simply not true, writes John McCain in the Washington Post. The senator points to former attorney general Michael Mukasey’s assertion that, under “harsh interrogation techniques,” Guantanamo prisoner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed revealed the name “of a trusted courier of bin Laden.” “That is false,” McCain writes.
The courier was actually first mentioned by “a detainee held in another country, who we believe was not tortured.” Harsh interrogation of Mohammed, meanwhile, produced “false and misleading information”—including that the courier had quit his al-Qaeda post. “I know from personal experience” that “under torture a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear—true or false,” writes the former POW. But “ultimately,” the debate over torture is “more than a utilitarian debate. This is a moral debate,” and it’s tragic to see the Constitution’s “respect for basic human dignity” ignored.