The Torture Memo Lie

Throughout the morning, MSNBC and others repeated the false conclusion that the newly released CIA memos proved that torture worked.

Naturally this has proved to be totally untrue.

The memos, from 2004 and 2005, do say that some detainees, particularly Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, gave up useful information during debriefing sessions. But nowhere do they suggest that that information was gleaned through torture.

Indeed, as Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent shows, most of the evidence suggests they came through traditional interrogation techniques. As Spencer puts it: "Cheney's public account of these documents have conflated the difference between information acquired from detainees, which the documents present, and information acquired from detainees through the enhanced interrogation program, which they don't."

In the rush to vindicate Dick Cheney in the media, the word "interrogation" somehow became interchangeable with "torture" or "harsh interrogations." As Ackerman notes, interrogators can get information using methods other than torture. Crazy, I know!

But expect the "torture worked" line to be repeated over and over on cable news for at least the rest of the week. You know, in between breathless and very serious Michael Jackson updates.