Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Waterboarding Did NOT Save Anyone's Life

The only way to approach this is to expose the lie they're using to hide the fact that all of them are complicit in something that should drive them out of public life forever. When you had the chance to speak up, you didn't do it. When you had the chance to step up, you hid in the shadows. There's only one piece of advice I can give you--GET OUT OF THE WAY of people who CAN lead. Russ Feingold and James Webb can do the job better than you can. And Speaker of the House Waxman and Majority Leader Conyers has a nice ring to it.

Juan Cole told us all about this in September. He spelled it out for us. But the trail goes back all the way to 2002 and has some interesting twists and turns. Bear with me, and if you click the links, I'm sure you'll find some good stuff.

To expose the lie, look at this headline on MSNBC.COM:

Waterboarding ‘probably saved lives’
Ex-CIA officer says technique worked, but he now considers it torture


When you see bullshit, call it what it is and never back down. Waterboarding did NOT save the life of one single, solitary person. Bad main stream media, bad! You're no better than a puppy that piddles everywhere and won't learn to actually do your business outside where it is socially acceptable. With patience, we will teach you.


The article continues:

A former CIA officer who participated in the capture and questioning of the first al-Qaeda terrorist suspect to be waterboarded said yesterday that the harsh technique provided an intelligence breakthrough that "probably saved lives," but that he now regards the tactic as torture.

Zayn Abidin Muhammed Hussein abu Zubaida, the first high-ranking al-Qaeda member captured after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, broke in less than a minute after he was subjected to the technique and began providing interrogators with information that led to the disruption of several planned attacks, said John Kiriakou, who served as a CIA interrogator in Pakistan.

Abu Zubaida was one of two detainees whose interrogation was captured in video recordings that the CIA later destroyed. The recent disclosure of the tapes' destruction ignited a recent furor on Capitol Hill and allegations that the agency tried to hide evidence of illegal torture.


First of all, John Kiriakou is a liar. Plain and simple. When there is "closed circuit" video system in place, it generally means someone has also installed a goddamned recording device. Pretty much anyone who walks upright and can chew gum knows that. What a ridiculous, bald-faced lie:

Kiriakou said he did not know that the interrogations were videotaped, although there often were closed-circuit video systems in the rooms where questioning took place. He said he also had no knowledge of the decision to destroy videotapes of the interrogations. Officials said there are hundreds of hours of recordings, but most are of Abu Zubaida alone in his cell recovering from his injuries.

Yes, after he'd been shot, we denied him treatment and we denied him painkillers. We're just batting a thousand when it comes to decency and compassion, aren't we? Of course, to prove we're tough, we have to remember that this guy was a "terrorist."

This controversy over who was told what is ridiculous. You can go to the archives of the Washington Post and see that this was all well-known and spelled out in great detail. As far back as 2002, the foundation of a policy of torturing detainees was laid by men who have never worn the uniform, never stood a watch and never been held accountable for anything in their lives. And we will be paying the price for that for a generation or more.


An August 2002 memo by the Justice Department that concluded interrogators could use extreme techniques on detainees in the war on terror helped provide an after-the-fact legal basis for harsh procedures used by the C.I.A. on high-level leaders of Al Qaeda, according to current and former government officials.

The legal memo was prepared after an internal debate within the government about the methods used to extract information from Abu Zubaydah, one of Osama bin Laden's top aides, after his capture in April 2002, the officials said. The memo provided a legal foundation for coercive techniques used later against other high-ranking detainees, like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, believed to be the chief architect of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, who was captured in early 2003.

So we've now established that anyone with a brain knew that Zubaida and Khalid Shiekh Mohammed were tortured in 2002. The government told everyone what they were doing and dared people to challenge them. This was all spelled out again and again in 2004 when the CIA had to put their efforts on hold and wait for legal justification to be dishonestly concocted by the White House and the Justice Department. What people did not know is that it was videotaped. And, as Abu Ghraib shows, it's one thing to talk about naked monkeypiles of people. It's a whole other thing to show people what it looks like.

You can go into those same archives and see things from 2002 like this little chestnut:

While the U.S. government publicly denounces the use of torture, each of the current national security officials interviewed for this article defended the use of violence against captives as just and necessary. They expressed confidence that the American public would back their view. The CIA, which has primary responsibility for interrogations, declined to comment.

"If you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time, you probably aren't doing your job," said one official who has supervised the capture and transfer of accused terrorists. "I don't think we want to be promoting a view of zero tolerance on this. That was the whole problem for a long time with the CIA."

Sorry, chumley. We don't back your view. And respecting human rights means we have a thing called moral authority. And that moral authority is now long gone. Long gone.


We also know that, in 2004, it was reported that:

The interrogation methods were approved by Justice Department and National Security Council lawyers in 2002, briefed to key congressional leaders and required the authorization of CIA Director George J. Tenet for use, according to intelligence officials and other government officials with knowledge of the secret decision-making process.

When the CIA and the military "started capturing al Qaeda in Afghanistan, they had no interrogators, no special rules and no place to put them," said a senior Marine officer involved in detainee procedures. The FBI, which had the only full cadre of professional interrogators from its work with criminal networks in the United States, took the lead in questioning detainees.

So where's the story in all of this? The story that they're trying to concoct is that there was a need to torture Zabaida and that the Congress was briefed. That gives them their plausible deniability. Because we're long past "discussing" whether people should go to jail. We need to discuss things like "hard time" and "Leavenworth" and "shower privileges."


And what they certainly don't want anyone to know is that Abu Zabaida is delusional and insane, and had no useful information. It was known at the time that he was not to be trusted. But they tortured him anyway. This is where the lies get really interesting, and go virtually unchallenged. The first thing people should know is that we tortured a crazy person and he gave up nothing useful. Seems like that's the part we should "focus" on as we figure out how we pissed away our soul for 35 seconds of torture. You know, our "soul?" The thing that used to make us proud? America's soul is now an Amsterdam hooker with one leg, standing in front of a dirty window with a thousand yard stare. It's not easy to get your soul back when you've given it away:

He described Abu Zubaida as ideologically zealous, defiant and uncooperative — until the day in mid-summer when his captors strapped him to a board, wrapped his nose and mouth in cellophane and forced water into his throat in a technique that simulates drowning.

The waterboarding lasted about 35 seconds before Abu Zubaida broke down, according to Kiriakou, who said he was given a detailed description of the incident by fellow team members. The next day, Abu Zubaida told his captors he would tell them whatever they wanted, Kiriakou said.

"He said that Allah had come to him in his cell and told him to cooperate, because it would make things easier for his brothers," Kiriakou said.

Kiriakou's remarks came a day before top CIA officials are to appear before a closed congressional hearing to account for the decision to destroy recordings of the interrogations of Abu Zubaida and another senior captive, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Last Thursday, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden announced that the recordings were destroyed in 2005 to protect the identities of CIA employees who appear on them.


What did Zubaida give them?

Nothing. He was nuts.

"The interrogations of Abu Zubaida drove me nuts at times," Downing said. "He and some of the others are very clever guys. At times I felt we were in a classic counter-interrogation class: They were telling us what they think we already knew. Then, what they thought we wanted to know. As they did that, they fabricated and weaved in threads that went nowhere. But, even with these ploys, we still get valuable information and they are off the street, unable to plot and coordinate future attacks."

Really? Here's Juan Cole, writing about what is in Ron Suskind's book The One Percent Solution:

Ron Suskind's One Percent Solution discusses Abu Zubayda. His sources in the intelligence community revealed to him that Abu Zubayda turned out not to have been a high level planner, as Rumsfeld had announced. He was more like a low level travel agent for the families of al-Qaeda operatives.

And he could barely pull off that basic job, since he seems to suffer from multiple personality syndrome. The CIA captured his diary. The entries were by his three distinct personae, Hani-1, Hani-2 and Hani-3 (a boy, a young man, and a middle-aged man).

The entries contained exhaustive detail about making travel arrangements for his clients. It was useless, junk detail, compulsive in nature and completely unhelpful. It went on forever. Dan Coleman, then the FBI's lead man in fighting al-Qaeda said the diary was about "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said. . . This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."

So where's the discussion about how fucking nuts this guy was? Buried deep in the articles being used to give the administration cover? Forgotten?

How about putting it in the goddamned FRONT of the story, where it fucking belongs?!? I think I'm gonna blow a gasket, and it's only Tuesday.


And, no. Bill Clinton did NOT do it, too:

According to present and former officials with firsthand knowledge, the CIA's authoritative Directorate of Operations instructions, drafted in cooperation with the general counsel, tells case officers in the field that they may not engage in, provide advice about or encourage the use of torture by cooperating intelligence services from other countries.

"Based largely on the Central American human rights experience," said Fred Hitz, former CIA inspector general, "we don't do torture, and we can't countenance torture in terms of we can't know of it." But if a country offers information gleaned from interrogations, "we can use the fruits of it."

Bush administration officials said the CIA, in practice, is using a narrow definition of what counts as "knowing" that a suspect has been tortured. "If we're not there in the room, who is to say?" said one official conversant with recent reports of renditions.

The Clinton administration pioneered the use of extraordinary rendition after the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. But it also pressed allied intelligence services to respect lawful boundaries in interrogations.

After years of fruitless talks in Egypt, President Bill Clinton cut off funding and cooperation with the directorate of Egypt's general intelligence service, whose torture of suspects has been a perennial theme in State Department human rights reports.

"You can be sure," one Bush administration official said, "that we are not spending a lot of time on that now."


That's right. We were warned. Nothing to see here, folks. Continue to not pay attention to what your government is doing in your name. Move along.

The soul of this country is under siege. The soul of this country and what it stands for is being stripped away from us. Don't let the bastards do it.

No comments: