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Friday, May 15, 2009

the long arm of the lawless

New facts about torture in the Bush-Cheney years continue to emerge, thanks in part to Dick Cheney's unending torture roadshow. Cheney himself has nothing new to add. Instead, he has provoked others to come forward, like Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired army colonel and Colin Powell's chief of staff when he was secretary of state. On May 13, Wilkerson wrote an article for The Washington Note which included the following passage:

'Likewise, what I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002—well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion—its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida.

So furious was this effort that on one particular detainee, even when the interrogation team had reported to Cheney's office that their detainee "was compliant" (meaning the team recommended no more torture), the VP's office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods. The detainee had not revealed any al-Qa'ida-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, "revealed" such contacts. Of course later we learned that al-Libi revealed these contacts only to get the torture to stop.'
Why is that significant? If true, it demonstrates that torture was not used simply by supposedly well-meaning agents and contractors trying to stop the supposed ticking timebombs, but that torture was used to provide cover for one of Bush and Cheney's bogus arguments for war: that Iraq bore responsibility for the attacks of September 11, 2001.

That much is plain from what Wilkerson himself said. But that's not all we learned on Wednesday. Meanwhile in Washington, the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts held an important hearing called 'What Went Wrong: Torture and the Office of Legal Counsel in the Bush Administration'. I watched it on C-SPAN and will try to post a link to the transcript when it becomes available.

One of the witnesses at the hearing was Ali Soufan, a former FBI counterterrorism agent who interrogated Abu Zubaydah, the high-value al-Qaeda detainee recently revealed to have been waterboarded eighty-three times in one month. Soufan testified that he got Zubaydah to reveal extremely valuable information without using torture. His interrogation was then stopped and contractors were brought in who then used torture on Zubaydah. The result: the contractors did not get anything valuable out of him. In short, the introduction of the ineffective torture techniques impeded the collection of information from Zubaydah.

The walls are closing in on Cheney and his gang, and there's nothing they can do about it—or is there? There was one more major piece of news this week, one that has received the least public attention but may deserve the most. All but one of the major captured al-Qaeda members are in U.S. custody: Khalid Shaikh Muhammad, Abu Zubaydah, and, at a federal 'supermax' prison in Colorado, Ramzi Yousef. The only one missing from U.S. custody is al-Libi, the guy whose torture produced the bogus information about Iraq's links to al-Qaeda. Where have they been hiding al-Libi? According to Newsweek for May 28, 2007, al-Libi was secreted away to Libya. Libya?! From the Newsweek article by Michael Isikoff:
'But Noman Benotman, a former Afgan jihad fighter who knew al-Libi and who is now a London-based Libyan political opposition leader, told NEWSWEEK that during a recent trip to Tripoli, he met with a senior Libyan government official who confirmed to him that al-Libi had been quietly returned to Libya and is now in prison there. Benotman said that he was told by the senior Libyan government official-whom he declined to publicly identify-that Al Libi is extremely ill, suffering from tuberculosis and diabetes. "He is there in jail and very sick," Benotman told NEWSWEEK. He also said that the senior official told him that the Libyan government has agreed not to publicly confirm anything about al-Libi-out of deference to the Bush administration. "If the Libyans will confirm it, it will embarrass the Americans because he is linked to the Iraq issue," Benotman said.'
Do you suppose al-Libi has been in Libya these past few years so that he could not answer anyone's questions? They could always call him back, no? No. On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that al-Libi had just, ahem, committed suicide:
'A Libyan militant whose false information about links between Iraq and Al Qaeda was used by the Bush administration as part of its justification for war in Iraq has died in a prison in Libya, a Libyan newspaper reported. The militant, Ali Mohammed Abdel-Aziz al-Fakheri, known by his nom de guerre, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, hanged himself late last week, the newspaper, Oea, said.'
The one person whose existence most deeply contradicted Bush and Cheney's lies, whose continued torture was personally demanded by Cheney, whose story could potentially wreck their defense in a criminal trial if it ever comes to that, just happened to commit suicide in a Libyan prison just as the Congress begins its investigation and as the facts about torture come cascading down on the heads of the previous administration. Draw your own conclusions. All I've got to say is, Dick Cheney is a very dangerous man.

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Anonymous 42 said...

We have all been wondering why it is taking so long to bring Bush, Cheney and the rest, before The Hague (clearly they are war criminals). Unfortunately, it is not going to happen. To make matters worse, the Republicans have now seized upon Speaker Pelosi's recent statement and are trying to get some mileage out of it.

WHO CARES whether or not some congresspeople were informed that the CIA was using "special means". It happened. Bush/Ceney ordered it.Throw them in jail. End of conversation!!!

2:30 PM, May 15, 2009


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