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.”
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 â€” 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.
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?