That's what John Kiriakou tells Robert Siegel in an interview on ATC tonight. I'm inclined to take him at his word, too. There's something fishy about this whole Kiriakou fellow. Are we really supposed to believe - as he tells Siegel - that he didn't get CIA permission before going public about the waterboarding of Zubaydah? Frankly the whole Kiriakou episode smells of a carefully planned story/leak. When I first heard him on ABC news the other morning, I assumed he was still an active CIA asset (though claiming to be retired), and was getting out the "ticking time bomb" and "torture saves American lives" line because evidence of CIA torture was going to be exposed anyway as relates to the contorted destroyed-tapes story. Who knows?
What I do know is that Seigel's interview was about as compliant, dull and unremarkable as such an interview could be. Seigel obviously did no homework on the Zubaydah case or he might have challenged the absurdity of Kiriakou's claims that "it worked in that case. And I firmly believe that American lives were saved because of it." Siegel could have simply said, "Can you back up that claim with any evidence besides your own words?" He might have asked how a mentally ill prisoner's tortured testimony could possibly have saved lives? He might have asked how Zubaydah's confessions coming about two months after his capture provided actionable intelligence. Or he might have mentioned that another "high value" CIA detainee's torture yielded "information" that has cost thousands of American (and over a million Iraqi) lives!
All these what ifs would assume that Siegel is really interested in getting at the truth. Instead he comes off as either lazy or complicit, letting Kiriakous get away with saying, "this is a pro-Agency story to be honest with you...the agency is a group of very hard working, very patriotic individuals out there all over the world risking their lives every day to make the United States a safer place. It's an intelligence success story." He really said this!
And Kiriakou must have loved being interviewed by someone who lets him end the interview by stating that the Zubaydah case is "something that Americans should be proud of."
Well, I'm not. I'm disgusted by it, and I'm disgusted that NPR can't challenge this stupid Jack Bauer "saved lives" rubbish. Anyone who knows about torture (much of which is sponsored by the US government) knows that there is no "ticking time bomb" scenario; what there is are hundreds of thousands of innocent people subjected to the ultimate tool of state terror - the violation of their bodies and minds. And once in a while, some poor victim of torture may be guilty of some kind of crime, but they are the minuscule exception.