Hayden’s Straw Man Argument on “Interrogation Deniers”

by Roger Koppl

In a Wall Street Journal op ed of 2 June 2011, General Michael Hayden, director of the CIA from 2006 to 2009, compares “interrogation deniers” to “birthers” and “truthers.”  Hayden’s op ed mischaracterizes the basic claim of those who say torture is not effective, substitutes insult for argument, and includes a non sequitur worthy of the old joke that that “military intelligence” is an oxymoron.

Hayden defines “interrogation deniers” as “individuals who hold that the enhanced interrogation techniques used against CIA detainees have never yielded useful intelligence.”  Talk about a straw man!  I suppose there must be some “interrogation deniers” as defined by Hayden, and I suppose some of them are out there floating in the wide waters of the Internet, waiting for someone to cut and paste.  But I don’t know of any examples, and their possible existence at the margins of public discourse has no bearing on the public question.   As Glenn Greenwald noted on May 4th,  “Nobody has ever argued that brutality will never produce truthful answers.”  No.  “[T]he point has always been — as a consensus of interrogations professionals has repeatedly said — that there are far more effective ways to extract the truth from someone than by torturing it out of them.” Continue reading