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The Two Most Essential, Abhorrent, Intolerable Lies Of George W. Bush's Memoir. Part 6 of 7. Article by Dan Froomkin for Huffington Post.
By Admin (from 22/01/2011 @ 10:00:03, in en - Global Observatory, read 1522 times)

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But what Bush did assert in his memoir was equally untrue. Investigative journalist Ron Suskind, in his breakthrough 2006 book, "The One Percent Doctrine," reported that the key information about bin al Shibh's location came not from Zubaydah but from an al-Jazeera reporter who had interviewed bin al Shibh at his apartment in Karachi.

And Zubaydah was not a major player. According to Suskind, he was a mentally ill travel booker who under CIA torture sent investigators chasing after false leads about al Qaeda plots on American nuclear plants, water systems, shopping malls, banks and supermarkets.

Almost three years after Suskind's book came out, the Washington Post confirmed what Suskind had reported: that "not a single significant plot was foiled" as a result of Zubaydah's brutal treatment -- and that his false confessions "triggered a series of alerts and sent hundreds of CIA and FBI investigators scurrying in pursuit of phantoms."

Another detainee waterboarded on Bush's say-so was Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who stands accused of plotting al Qaeda's bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000.

As far as I can tell, Bush has never actually made any claims about any intelligence whatsoever reaped from Nashiri's brutal treatment at the hands of CIA interrogators in Poland (who, among other things, used a power drill and a handgun to terrify him.)

The unclassified transcript of Nashiri's Combatant Status Review Tribunal hearing in 2007, while redacted to eliminate any mention of the specific ways in which he was tortured, indicates that his response was to tell interrogators whatever they wanted to hear.

Nashiri was asked about his statements about plans to bomb other American ships, about a plot to fly a plane and crash it into a ship, and about bin Laden having a nuclear bomb.

"I just said those things to make the people happy," he explained. "They were very happy when I told them those things."

And then there was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, who the CIA asphyxiated 183 times after Bush so enthusiastically approved his waterboarding. Bush writes:

He disclosed plans to attack American targets with anthrax and directed us to three people involved in the al Qaeda biological weapons program. .He provided information that led to the capture of Hambali, the chief of al Qaeda's most dangerous affiliate in Southeast Asia and the architect of the Bali terrorist attacks that killed 202 people. He provided further details that led agents to Hambali's brother, who had been grooming operatives to carry out another attack inside the United States, possibly a West Coast version of 9/11 in which terrorist flew a hijacked plane into the Library Tower in Los Angeles.

There seems to be little doubt that KSM provided intelligence of some value (along with a number of false confessions) -- although he might have done likewise (minus the false confessions) in the hands of a skilled interrogator using traditional methods.

But despite the lengths that the Bush White House, intelligence officials and various torture apologists have gone to over the past several years to help Bush make his case, there remains not the tiniest shred of evidence to support his assertion that KSM's torture -- or any other -- actually saved a single life.

As far as we know, none of the alleged plots that were allegedly disrupted was anything more than a fantasy. There is no evidence they presented an actual danger. There is not a single saved life they can point to. If they could, they would have.

The first time Bush disclosed what he alleged were thwarted terror plots was in a speech in October 2005. "Overall, the United States and our partners have disrupted at least ten serious al Qaeda terrorist plots since September the 11th, including three al Qaeda plots to attack inside the United States," he said. The White House then distributed what it called a fact sheet.

But a few days later, the Washington Post reported:

Intelligence officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the White House overstated the gravity of the plots by saying that they had been foiled, when most were far from ready to be executed....

The president made it 'sound like well-hatched plans,' said a former CIA official involved in counterterrorism during that period. 'I don't think they fall into that category.'

 

Similarly, in a February 2006 speech Bush offered more details about that alleged Library Tower plot. The Director of National Intelligence obligingly declassified a Summary of the High Value Terrorist Detainee Program to go along with that. But the Washington Post soon reported that "several U.S. intelligence officials played down the relative importance of the alleged plot and attributed the timing of Bush's speech to politics."

And even when the CIA last year released documents that Cheney had sworn would definitively prove that torture had "prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people," those documents turned out to include no such proof -- just a lot more cover-your-ass language from the CIA.

Senator Rockefeller concluded in March 2008:

As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I have heard nothing to suggest that information obtained from enhanced interrogation techniques has prevented an imminent terrorist attack. And I have heard nothing that makes me think the information obtained from these techniques could not have been obtained through traditional interrogation methods used by military and law enforcement interrogators. On the other hand, I do know that coercive interrogations can lead detainees to provide false information in order to make the interrogation stop.
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Bush's assertion that torture thwarted plots to attack Heathrow Airport and Canary Wharf got some renewed attention earlier this month after portions of his memoir were serialized in the Times of London. The journalists across the pond, at least, pushed back a bit.

The Guardian reported:

British officials said today there was no evidence to support claims by George Bush, the former US president, that information extracted by "waterboarding" saved British lives by foiling attacks on Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf....

British counter-terrorism officials distanced themselves from Bush's claims. They said Mohammed provided "extremely valuable" information which was passed on to security and intelligence agencies, but that it mainly related to al-Qaida's structure and was not known to have been extracted through torture.

 

The Daily Mail reported:

Lord MacDonald, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, said: 'These stories about waterboarding thwarting attacks on Canary Wharf and Heathrow -- I've never seen anything to substantiate these claims. These claims are to be treated with a great deal of scepticism.'

Now it's true that some British intelligence officials -- notoriously close to their American colleagues -- share Bush's views. The head of Britain's MI5, for instance, actually defended the use of torture on familiar grounds last year:

Al Qaeda had indeed made plans for further attacks after 9/11: details of some of these plans came to light through the interrogation of detainees by other countries, including the US, in the period after 9/11; subsequent investigation on the ground, including in the UK, substantiated these claims. Such intelligence was of the utmost importance to the safety and security of the UK. It has saved British lives. Many attacks have been stopped as a result of effective international intelligence co-operation since 9/11.

But he offered no verifiable details, of course.

TO BE CONTINUED ...