Top Bush Terrorism Adviser Admits CIA Docs Didn’t Prove Torture Worked

Via Greg Sargent

Okay, this should settle it, but of course it won’t: We now have a former homeland security official under George W. Bush who has contradicted the claim by conservatives that the CIA docs released yesterday proved torture worked, as Dick Cheney said they would.

Frances Fragos Townsend, a homeland security adviser and close confidante of Bush on terrorism, made the admission late last night on CNN, where she’s a contributor. Here’s her quote (from Nexis):

It’s very difficult to draw a cause and effect, because it’s not clear when techniques were applied vs. when that information was received. It’s implicit. It seems, when you read the report, that we got the — the — the most critical information after techniques had been applied. But the report doesn’t say that.

Cheney defenders have grabbed onto the idea that the docs imply torture worked with the urgency of a drowning person clinging to driftwood. But let’s be clear: Cheney said repeatedly that the CIA docs would settle the question. And even a top terror adviser in his administration is now admitting that this isn’t the case.

Townsend, by the way, is hardly a defector from the Bush cause. In other contexts she remains an ardent defender of the administration. When Tom Ridge recently claimed that Bush officials had gamed the terror alerts for political reasons, Townsend aggressively pushed back on the charges. So perhaps her word on the CIA docs counts for something among Cheney defenders?

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