The Fruits of Torture

Via Dr. Atrios, here’s an update to the last post, which describes how a Mr. Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi gave testimony about al Qaeda-Iraq collusion that the Defense Intelligence Agency strongly suspected wasn’t true, but the Bush Administration charged ahead and based arguments for invading Iraq on his bogus testimony anyway —

Michael Hirsh, John Barry and Daniel Klaidman wrote about Libi in the June 21, 2004, issue of Newsweek:

Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was America’s first big trophy in the war on terror: a senior Qaeda operative captured amid the fighting in Afghanistan. What is less known is that al-Libi, who ran Qaeda training camps, quickly became the subject of a bitter feud between the FBI and the CIA over how to interrogate terror suspects.


At the time of al-Libi’s capture on Nov. 11, 2001, the questioning of detainees was still the FBI’s province. For years the bureau’s “bin Laden team” had sought to win suspects over with a carrots-and-no-sticks approach: favors in exchange for cooperation. One terrorist, in return for talking, even wangled a heart transplant for his child.

With al-Libi, too, the initial approach was to read him his rights like any arrestee, one former member of the FBI team told NEWSWEEK. “He was basically cooperating with us.” But this was post-9/11; President Bush had declared war on Al Qaeda, and in a series of covert directives, he had authorized the CIA to set up secret interrogation facilities and to use new, harsher methods. The CIA, says the FBI source, was “fighting with us tooth and nail.” …

…Al-Libi’s capture, some sources say, was an early turning point in the government’s internal debates over interrogation methods. FBI officials brought their plea to retain control over al-Libi’s interrogation up to FBI Director Robert Mueller. The CIA station chief in Afghanistan, meanwhile, appealed to the agency’s hawkish counterterrorism chief, Cofer Black. He in turn called CIA Director George Tenet, who went to the White House. Al-Libi was handed over to the CIA. “They duct-taped his mouth, cinched him up and sent him to Cairo” for more-fearsome Egyptian interrogations, says the ex-FBI official. “At the airport the CIA case officer goes up to him and says, ‘You’re going to Cairo, you know. Before you get there I’m going to find your mother and I’m going to f— her.’ So we lost that fight.” (A CIA official said he had no comment.)

Although the article doesn’t say exactly what was done to Libi, as explained in the previous post Libi told his interrogators a bunch of made up stories that the Bushies repeated to the American public as reasons we had to invade Iraq.

Kevin Drum calls this episode “one of the first test cases for Dick Cheney’s campaign to introduce torture as a standard interrogation technique overseas, replacing the FBI’s more mainstream methods.”

Kevin continues,

As Mark Kleiman points out, this is the pragmatic case against torture: not only is it wrong, but it doesn’t even provide reliable information anyway — and it makes Cheney’s relentless moral cretinism on the subject all the worse. Larry Wilkerson, who investigated this back when he was Colin Powell’s chief of staff, confirms that “there was a visible audit trail from the vice president’s office” that authorized the practices that led to the abuse of detainees, and Cheney continues to vigorously support the use of torture to this day, pressuring Congress behind closed doors not to pass John McCain’s anti-torture legislation.

Andrew Sullivan writes,

He’s still furiously lobbying Senators to protect his right to torture. A man who avoided service in Vietnam is lecturing John McCain on the legitimacy of torturing military detainees. But notice he won’t even make his argument before Senate aides, let alone the public. Why not? If he really believes that the U.S. has not condoned torture but wants to reserve it for exceptional cases, why not make his argument in the full light of day? You know: where democratically elected politicians operate.

Like cockroaches, Cheney and his minions are more active in the dark. I’m starting to wonder what would happen to them if they were drug out into the sunlight. Would they burst into flames?

5 thoughts on “The Fruits of Torture

  1. I’m pretty angry about the torture question. I feel people like Cheney are reprehensible for advocating torture.

    But, I also have some rather complex attitudes about it. Torture should be used only in the most extreme of circumstances. It should not be a matter of policy. In fact there should be a national policy statement that torture will not be used except in the most compelling of situations. Of course, defining what those situations are is the crux of the issue. I am familar with the Israeli “ticking clock” criterion.

    Let me try to make clear my beliefs with a very personal example; let’s say a group of kidnappers took a loved-one of mine. Somehow, one of the kidnappers fell into my hands. They (man or woman) know where my loved-one is being held. I would do the most hedious things to compel them to give me the information. Without remorse. However, I could not, and would not attempt to justify my actions. Once I obtained the information, and used it to secure the life and saftey of my loved-one, I would give myself up for trial in a court of law. I would not use the defense that the “crime” I had committed was justified by some higher purpose. I did it because I felt saving the life of my loved-one was worth commiting that crime. That does not absolve me from having to pay for that crime. Governments should be held to no less a standard.

    If you believe enough in something, then you should believe enough to accept the price for your actions, be that a decoration, or prison, or worse.

    I know this might seem very convoluted. But, that is how I feel about it.

  2. Torture is unacceptable at any time as far as I am concerned. You never know when you will be on the wrong end of an unacceptable practice.

  3. Disgusting! Absolutely disgusting to think that this man, Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States is actually advocating torture of fellow human beings in front of Republican Senators – all of them, sitting in a room eating their lunch. I read somewhere else that McCain stood up and argued against any exception for the CIA. My God! Why didn’t they all get up and walk out of the room when Cheney opened his mouth? All of them, all 55 of them – McCain included – are beneath contempt! Less than a year, folks. We must get control of at least one house of Congress. That will be a start. But, 37 more months of Emperor Georgia Disgustus – oh the pain of even thinking about it!

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