“Adherence to our values distinguishes us from our enemy.” – General David Petraeus in an open letter to his troops warning against the use of torture.
Marc A. Thiessen, a former speech writer, not an intelligence expert writes a pants on fire lie in the Washington Post, The CIA’s Questioning Worked
Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques “led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the ‘Second Wave,’ ‘to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into’ a building in Los Angeles.” KSM later acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast. The memo explains that “information obtained from KSM also led to the capture of Riduan bin Isomuddin, better known as Hambali, and the discovery of the Guraba Cell, a 17-member Jemmah Islamiyah cell tasked with executing the ‘Second Wave.’ “ In other words, without enhanced interrogations, there could be a hole in the ground in Los Angeles to match the one in New York.
Let’s remember that those memos referred to by a former member of the Bush administration were written by OLC lawyers that from 2002 to 2005 were writing what turned out to be reactive legal justification for programs of torture that had already started. Thiessen is not using facts to justify his assertions, but opinions about how to circumvent the law. Theissen and one of those black helicopter right-wing conspiracy sites called CNS News are also either lying or willfully ignorant of the timeline of the so-called Library Tower plots and information obtained from Khalid Sheik Mohammed(KSM), CIA Confirms: Waterboarding 9/11 Mastermind Led to Info that Aborted 9/11-Style Attack on Los Angeles
The Central Intelligence Agency told CNSNews.com today that it stands by the assertion made in a May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo that the use of “enhanced techniques” of interrogation on al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) — including the use of waterboarding — caused KSM to reveal information that allowed the U.S. government to thwart a planned attack on Los Angeles.
Who knows what CIA CNSNews talked to, the CIA of Bizarroworld perhaps. Water-Bored Al-Qaida’s plot to bomb the Library Tower was not worth torturing anyone over
What clinches the falsity of Thiessen’s claim, however (and that of the memo he cites, and that of an unnamed Central Intelligence Agency spokesman who today seconded Thessen’s argument) is chronology. In a White House press briefing, Bush’s counterterrorism chief, Frances Fragos Townsend, told reporters that the cell leader was arrested in February 2002, and “at that point, the other members of the cell” (later arrested) “believed that the West Coast plot has been canceled, was not going forward” [italics mine]. A subsequent fact sheet released by the Bush White House states, “In 2002, we broke up [italics mine] a plot by KSM to hijack an airplane and fly it into the tallest building on the West Coast.” These two statements make clear that however far the plot to attack the Library Tower ever got—an unnamed senior FBI official would later tell the Los Angeles Times that Bush’s characterization of it as a “disrupted plot” was “ludicrous”—that plot was foiled in 2002. But Sheikh Mohammed wasn’t captured until March 2003.
Pretty amazing feat by the Bush administration, CNSNews (and the dictation taking parrots on dozens of right-wing blogs today – the Google search link above is testament to the uncritical gullibility of the Right and their contempt for any facts that interfere with their Agent Jack Bauer fantasies). They claim to have broken up a plot by using torture on a guy that was not even in U.S. custody when said plot was being developed. Fast and Easy with the LA Terrorist Plot
“We now know that in October 2001 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September the 11th attacks, had already set in motion a plan to have terrorist operatives hijack an airplane using shoe bombs to breach the cockpit door and fly the plane into the tallest building on the West coast. We believe the intended target was Liberty Tower in Los Angeles, California.”
If Bush learned of this plot in 2001, he could not have done so from MLK who was captured and first questioned without torture in March 2003. For the Library Tower plot to be percived as the serious planning the Bushies would have us believe you have to over look some large gaps in logic in addition to the new and very convenient timeline. We and the world knows from Flight 93 that once the passengers know a plot is underway they are not going to let the plot proceed and they are going to use their cell phones to alert authorities. Then we have to believe that al Qaeda was very confident in the consequences of using a shoe bomb to blow open the doors to a jet cockpit. Some how the bombs would not down the jet and would also leave the flight instruments intact enough to use to fly the plane to its target. It also happens that after shoe bomber Richard Reid made his attempt at blowing up a plane, shoe inspections started in 2001. Scope of Los Angeles Terror Plot Remains Murky(The Library Plot and other tales suddenly began to appear after published reports of Bush circumventing FISA courts for domestic spying)
But Micheal Scheuer, who was the leading al-Qaida expert in the CIA’s counter-terrorism center in 2002, says he is not aware of any such serious threat against the West Coast in 2002. As the man in the CIA who knew more about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida than perhaps any other agency officer, he says it is unlikely that he would not have been kept informed on such a plot.
“It could be that it was very closely held, but I think that’s unlikely,” he said. “It could be just a function of my failing memory. But this doesn’t sound like anything that I would recall as a major threat, or as a major success in stopping it.”
Scheuer, who has periodically attacked government anti-terrorist efforts as ineffective, says the plot was in all likelihood never considered serious enough to pay any real attention to it.
“My impression of what the president said is that they – the National Security Council – have culled through information to look for something that resembled a serious threat in 2002,” he said. “It doesn’t strike me, either as someone who was there or as someone who has followed al-Qaida pretty closely, that this was really a serious sort of effort. Just on the face of this, it sounds to me like it might well have been a threat that was reported, but not one that at the time was taken all that seriously.”
The 9/11 commission says Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was captured in Pakistan in 2003, told interrogators that he was too busy with the September 11th planning to plan the second wave of attacks.
However serious the plan really was, security sources say it was completely compromised in 2002 with the arrest of Zaini Zakaria, a Malaysian who had been recruited to be one of the suicide pilots. Zakaria backed out of the plan after the 9/11 attacks and, sources say, remains in custody in Malaysia for his links to Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian group in sympathy with al-Qaida.
Any actionable intelligence and the viability of the Library Tower plot itself likely came from Zaini Zakaria, not from MLK. Since MLK was waterboarded 183 times, he likely did what most intelligence experts predicted about the use of torture. He told them anything and everthing he could think of to get the torture to stop. Where did the Bush administration and those pro torture elements in the CIA get the idea to use torture, Harsh Tactics Readied Before Their Approval
The military’s Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) has been reported to have reverse-engineered these methods to break al-Qaeda prisoners. The techniques, including waterboarding, or simulated drowning, were drawn from the methods used by Chinese Communists to coerce confessions from U.S. soldiers during the Korean War –– a lineage that one instructor appeared to readily acknowledge.
“We can provide the ability to exploit personnel based on how our enemies have done this type of thing over the last five decades,” Joseph Witsch wrote in a July 2002 memo.
The report shows Pentagon officials reaching out to the military agency for advice on interrogations as early as December 2001 and finding some specialists eager to help. By late 2001, counterterrorism officials were becoming frustrated by the paucity of useful leads coming from interrogations — a meager showing that was linked, according to one Army major, to interrogators’ insistence on “establishing a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq,” the report said.
The communists, who the Right claims are evil, but fully embrace the way communists conduct their interrogation techniques. And not to stop plots, but to get subjects of torture to manufacture evidence of a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda. Bush and neocon supporters have a lot riding on rationalizing torture, illegalal wire tapping; most notabiliy the legendary Iraq and al-Qaeda. In addition to the legal ramifications for administration officials. If torture is oppressive, illegalal and immoral when the Chinese do it, and it is, then the same applies to those that supported the Bush/Cheney agenda. Intelligence Chief Says Methods Hurt U.S.
Blair, Obama’s appointee to oversee the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, summarized in the statement an assessment he gave his staff in a memo last week, according to U.S. officials familiar with the document. Blair is a participant in a White House-ordered review of CIA interrogation methods used on high-value terrorism suspects between 2002 and 2006.
“The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world,” Blair said in the statement. “The damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security.”
[ ]…For example, interrogations of Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, or Abu Zubaida, the CIA’s first high-value detainee, helped its officials understand links between terrorist groups but did not lead directly to the disruption of al-Qaeda plots, according to former intelligence officials with access to intelligence reports. Many of the leads he provided were obtained before harsh methods were applied, the officials said.
While I’m not a big fan of Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, the Right has already begun to cherry pick some of what he has said to cover for illegal actions taken by the Bush White House, Kristol falsely suggested DNI Blair supports torture techniques
On Special Report, Bill Kristol falsely suggested that Dennis Blair supports the harsh interrogation techniques outlined in Bush administration memos, while President Obama has “repudiated the use of them.”
[ ]…Similarly, in an April 21 article, The New York Times reported that in a written statement, Blair said: “The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security.”
This is from the same article in which Blair, an intelligence insider defended CIA operatives that he thought acted in good faith. It might be a waste of time in the pratical sense to prosecute low elevel opratives that acted in good faith, but we know that torture began even before those memos by Bybee and Bradley with their convoluted legal arguments, so some operatives did not act in good faith based on White House legal arguments. Those that relied on legal assurnces from their White House bosses might have a case for mitigating their punshiment or perhaps testifying with some kind of immunity,
One of the chief reasons the defendants say there was no conspiracy is the argument that conspiracy was impossible with a dictator. The argument runs that they all had to obey Hitler’s orders, which had the force of law in the German State, and hence obedience could not be made the basis of an original charge. In this way it is explained that while there have been wholesale killings, there have been no murderers.
This argument is an effort to evade Article 8 of the Charter, which provides that the order of the Government or of a superior shall not free a defendant from responsibility but can only be considered in mitigation