15 Feb

Zubaydah Thanked His Interrogators for Waterboarding Him

                                       

And essentially made it clear that it was both effective and necessary, telling the CIA interrogators that “You must do this to all the brothers.”

This past Valentine’s Day….

Former VP Cheney’s ABC This Week:

KARL: But you believe they should have had the option of everything up to and including waterboarding?

CHENEY: I think you ought to have all of those capabilities on the table. Now, President Obama has taken them off the table. He announced when he came in last year that they would never use anything other than the U.S. Army manual, which doesn’t include those techniques. I think that’s a mistake.

From VP Biden’s appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation:

Schieffer: “Can you Mr. Vice President envision a time where waterboarding can ever be used on anyone?”

Biden: “No, no, it’s not effective”

Schieffer: “It’s not effective?”

Biden: “It’s not effective”

Abu Zubaydah disagrees with Joe Biden. He is living proof that waterboarding worked. Not only that, but he endorsed waterboarding with a personal stamp of approval.

Last April, I posted an excerpt from Ron Kessler’s The Terrorist Watch, regarding the chapter detailing Abu Zubaydah:

Abu Zubaydah mentioned that KSM used the moniker “Mukhtar,” which allowed analysts to comb through previously collected intelligence and develop leads that eventually led to his capture.

Soon after that, Abu Zubaydah stopped cooperating.

When Zubaydah gave up KSM, he did so unwittingly (detailed in my link to the excerpt from Kessler’s book) while in his hospital bed, recovering from injury sustained in his capture. As he regained his health, he grew resistant to questioning.

Propelled by fear that another attack was in the works, the CIA began developing coercive interrogation techniques- water-boarding high value terrorists or subjecting them to ear-splitting music or to icy temperatures and forcing them to stand for hours.

“We weren’t getting very much from him at all,” Grenier says. “And that’s when we began the process of putting together a properly focused interrogation process. It was refined a good deal subsequently, but he was the test.”

Before the interrogation procedures were employed, the Justice Department reviewed them and determined that they were legally permissible. After a few months, the CIA began using some of the techniques on Abu Zubaydah. As the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah and other detained terrorists progressed, the agency briefed the chairs, ranking members, and majority and minority staff directors of the House and Senate intelligence committees on the details of the procedures used.

Marc Thiessen has an important new book out, Courting Disaster that clears up some of the mystique and mythologizing about the CIA program that has successfully kept America safe since 9/11. Former CIA Director Hayden writes (thanks Missy!):

I opposed the release of the Office of Legal Council memos on the CIA interrogation program last April. I opposed the release of additional memos and the report of the CIA inspector general on the interrogation program last August. But whatever their release did to reveal American secrets to our enemies, it did inject something into the public debate on this program that had been sorely missing—facts.

Thiessen has taken these documents, as well as his own extensive interviews and research, and created for the first time a public account of a program previously hidden from public view. Prior to this, some opponents of the program could create whatever image they wanted to create to support the argument of the moment. And those who were in government at the time were near powerless to correct the record. No longer.

There will still be those who remain adamantly opposed to the interrogation effort, but now they must be opposed to the program as it was, not as they imagined or feared or—dare I say, for some—expected it to be.

I’m about 300 pages into the book. A book that Thiessen describes as one that he should not have been able to write and we should not have been able to read. Obama’s declassification of internal documents and media leaks have made this book possible, out of the necessity of setting the record straight. Because it isn’t such things as Guantanamo and so-called “torture” that has made America “less safe” and created more terrorists; but rather, the wild, irresponsible distortions and fabrications.

America’s image abroad wasn’t damaged by President Bush, but by his political opponents.

By Thiessen’s account,

the first terrorist to be subjected to enhanced techniques, Zubaydah, told his interrogators something stunning. According to the Justice Department memos released by the Obama administration, Zubaydah explained that “brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship.” In other words, the terrorists are called by their religious ideology to resist as far as they can — and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know.

Several senior officials told me that, after undergoing waterboarding, Zubaydah actually thanked his interrogators and said, “You must do this for all the brothers.” The enhanced interrogation techniques were a relief for Zubaydah, they said, because they lifted a moral burden from his shoulders — the responsibility to continue resisting.

The importance of this revelation cannot be overstated: Zubaydah had given the CIA the secret code for breaking al-Qaeda detainees. CIA officials now understood that the job of the interrogator was to give the captured terrorist something to resist, so he could do his duty to Allah and then feel liberated to speak. So they developed techniques that would allow terrorists to resist safely, without any lasting harm. Indeed, they specifically designed techniques to give the terrorists the false perception that what they were enduring was far worse than what was actually taking place.

Much of the power of waterboarding and the other approved enhanced interrogation techniques was psychological. Such as the belief that drowning was taking place, as was the case of waterboarding; or that one was getting shoved hard (“walling”) by hitting a flexible, false wall that made a loud sound to give the illusion that what was happening was worse than it actually was. As Thiessen puts it in an interview he did on the Dennis Prager Show, “Most of the techniques are psychological tricks, for the most part. They didn’t depend upon physical pain to get the people to cooperate.” They were like mentalist/magic tricks whose effectiveness, once revealed, loses their power.

This is why, since President Obama (selectively) released the OLC “torture” memos (more properly identified as “how not to torture” memos) last April, a couple of things have occurred:

1)It’s basically provided al Qaeda with valuable intell information. Now they know what to train specifically against (were the CIA program still in operation).

2)It’s made the enhanced interrogation techniques described in detail in the declassified documents obsolete.

Waterboarding (performed on only 3 terrorists in the program) is now pretty much useless as a psychological tool; making Obama’s EO banning its use rather redundant (especially since waterboarding had been suspended already, under the Bush Administration). It’s just gratuitous PR that “Obama banned torture” (Bush and Cheney were against torture, too). What he did was ban the tools that provided the CIA with valuable intell that would not have been gained through standard interrogation procedures. KSM, especially, was described by one official as “superhuman” in his resistance to traditional interrogation. It was clear that he had received extensive training in counter-interrogation. And he was smart: He figured out exactly how long his interrogators were allowed to pour the water shortly after only being waterboarded a few times, and would count off on his hand the number of seconds that would elapse, “1…2….3…”

Under the Obama Administration, the business of intelligence-gathering has taken a back seat in favor of prosecuting terrorists or simply killing them rather than capturing.

Thiessen’s entire Prager interview is excellent, and you can listen to it here:

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This entry was posted in American Intelligence, Book Review, CIA interrogation program, CIA Leak, Dick Cheney, Guantanamo, Joe Biden, War On Terror. Bookmark the permalink. Monday, February 15th, 2010 at 2:11 pm
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36 Responses to Zubaydah Thanked His Interrogators for Waterboarding Him

  1. Ivan says: 1

    “Miss me yet?”

    It should be Cheney’s picture instead of Bush.

    Thank God we had an adult like Dick Cheney at Veep.

    God bless him.

    Biden is such a chump.

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  2. Hawk says: 2

    I’m sorry but ….

    If water boarding is ineffective, then surely Biden SHOULD NOT mind having the military experts do it to him.

    “CIA officers who have subjected themselves to the technique have lasted an average of 14 seconds before capitulating”

    I’d pay good money to watch Biden voluntarily subjected to waterboarding “to show just how ineffective it is.”

    I don’t think they’d get to pour the first drop before he’d spout any and everything!

    This is LITERALLY put your money where your mouth is!

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  3. Wordsmith says: 3

    @Hawk: Well, Biden is probably implying it as ineffectual in the sense that “torture doesn’t work; and they’ll tell you anything you want them to say, just to make it stop.”

    But that facts speak otherwise. Waterboarding the 3 high-value detainees worked, and gained valuable intell that led directly to plots foiled, cells disrupted, operatives killed and captured, etc.

    Furthermore, the CIA waterboarding didn’t have the objective in mind of obtaining confessions or information, but in achieving cooperation; after which, waterboarding ceased and de-briefing for information would then commence.

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  4. BRob says: 4

    Waterboarding is torture. It’s torture when the Vietnamese did it; it’s torture when we do it.

    There is case after case after case where people captured by police give information and implicate themselves and others under duress that does NOT include torture. So if you torture someone, you should not be surprised to get information and plenty of it false. THAT is the problem with torture . . . not to mention the whole illegal, immoral and inhumane part. Like Jessie “The Body” Ventura said, “Let me waterboard Dick Cheney for five minutes and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.” THAT is why it is ineffective.

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  5. Taqiyyotomist says: 5

    You’re right, B-Rob.

    When we catch a high-value terrorist and we suspect that there are more attacks on the way, and we know he trained with the people who are planning more attacks, we should use the VULCAN MIND-MELD to get the life-saving information we need.

    First, we need to find us some Vulcans.

    I’m done. Goodnight, all, and God Bless ya’s greatly and continually.

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  6. Wordsmith says: 6

    @BRob:

    Waterboarding is torture.

    So’s tickling, I suppose. A lot of things that are uncomfortable can constitute “torture” if you want to stretch the definition.

    It’s torture when the Vietnamese did it; it’s torture when we do it.

    It’s tortured logic to compare what the Vietnamese did to American POWs to what our CIA did- with all the legal restrictions and medical personnel present- to 3 known terrorists.

    There is case after case after case where people captured by police give information and implicate themselves and others

    Which KSM and Abu Zubaydah received interrogation-resistance training against.

    under duress that does NOT include torture.

    CIA enhanced interrogation subjected about 30 of these guys to duress that was determined not to rise to the level of “torture”. They went to great lengths to safeguard against crossing a line.

    So if you torture someone, you should not be surprised to get information and plenty of it false.

    What part did you not understand about the purpose of CIA waterboarding? It isn’t done to get information.

    THAT is the problem with torture . . . not to mention the whole illegal, immoral and inhumane part.

    Which is why Obama is against it. Bush is against it. Cheney is against it. The CIA is against it. What are you missing, here?

    Like Jessie “The Body” Ventura said, “Let me waterboard Dick Cheney for five minutes and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.” THAT is why it is ineffective.

    Ventura’s off the deep end. Watching him on The View? THAT’S torture.

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  7. Wordsmith says: 7

    Did you even bother to read the post, BRob? Listen to the interview? Tried to expand your knowledge-base? Keep an open mind and learn something new, beyond the recycled talking points on the topic? Everything you just brought up were already hashed out in previous threads since the release of the OLC memos. Surprised you didn’t bring up Ali Soufan, WWII Japanese POWs, and more favorites from the liberal talking points lists.

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  8. Greg says: 8

    “But that facts speak otherwise. Waterboarding the 3 high-value detainees worked, and gained valuable intell that led directly to plots foiled, cells disrupted, operatives killed and captured, etc.”

    Cheney has frequently asserted as much, with absolutely no evidence to back the claim up.

    I can’t think of any good reason why I should believe what Cheney says on the topic. I can think of a number of reasons why I shouldn’t.

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  9. Taqiyyotomist says: 9

    Come to think of it, based on the shows and movies, I’d probably take waterboarding over the Vulcan Mind-Meld. That looks real uncomfortable whenever it’s done. Libs would certainly consider it torture, not to mention all the invasion-of-privacy issues – and hey, terrorist wannabe mass-murderers caught red-handed (or -nutted, as the case may be, which in one case it was) have rights too, you know.

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  10. Taqiyyotomist says: 10

    Greg,
    “I can’t think of any good reason why I should believe what Cheney says on the topic.”

    Because Cheney, in all his life, political life or otherwise, to my knowledge has never shown a propensity for guile or deceit, and has always shown, by more than his words, a sincere desire to protect Americans. He is not what anybody with any discernment whatsoever would consider a dishonest or untrustworthy man.

    Is that good enough? Not many politicians can fit that mold, but he’s one, I know it in my bones.

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  11. Hard Right says: 11

    Ummm greg, asked and aswered.

    http://www.floppingaces.net/2010/01/27/cia-man-retracts-claim-on-waterboarding/

    “Marc Thiessen, author of Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack, explains further:

    I have spoken to the people who — unlike Kirakou — were in the room for the interrogations of Zubaydah, KSM and other terrorists held by the CIA. And in Courting Disaster, I meticulously document the evidence for the efficacy of the CIA interrogation program — based not on Kirakou’s claims, but on the testimony of the actual interrogators, interviews with top CIA and other intelligence officials, the evidence presented in the CIA inspector general’s report, and other top-secret documents declassified by the Obama administration. I urge you to read it and judge for yourself. The evidence is overwhelming.

    Before these documents were released, there was room for debate on the efficacy of CIA interrogations — because the facts had not been declassified. No longer. Yet the critics will continue to attempt to muddy the waters and use Kirakopu as “proof” of their claim the interrogations did not work. They will do so because if they admit that the interrogations worked, that means that the consequence of their position would have been another 9/11. They have to argue that a) enhanced interrogation is wrong and b) it did not work, because if the latter is not true then the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women, and children would have been the price of their approach.

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  12. Wordsmith says: 12

    @Greg:

    I can’t think of any good reason why I should believe what Cheney says on the topic. I can think of a number of reasons why I shouldn’t.

    You know what Greg? I’ll cut you some slack: You don’t have to list “a number of reasons”. Just give me one good reason.

    As for “no evidence to back the claim”, are you willfully not paying attention?

    It was under the CIA interrogation program- not FBI’s Soufan- that we learned

    -of an al Qaeda American operative named Abdullah al-Muhajir. Otherwise best known as Jose Padilla. Thanks to Zubaydah, Padilla was captured in 2002, along with $10,000 to carry out a terror plot to blow up buildings, a cell phone and email address by which he’d contact Ammar al Baluchi (KSM’s right-hand man).

    Justice Dept. documents disputes Ali Soufan’s claims that this information was obtained prior to CIA interrogations. His own FBI partner has said that it was the CIA and not Soufan that got the Padilla information. Furthermore, he states that Zubaydah identified several targets for future al-Qaeda attacks, including the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty.

    -After giving up Padilla, Zubaydah stopped talking. It was clear to the CIA that he was withholding more information. So out came the development of additional techniques of enhanced interrogation, including waterboarding. After being waterboarded, as one CIA official describes it (and who was there on all the briefings from the beginning), Zubaydah became an intell “bonanza”.

    This led directly to

    -More identification, kills and captures of key al Qaeda operatives, including those directly involved with the events of 9/11

    -According to both George Tenet and Michael Hayden, Zubaydah post-enhanced interrogations led directly to the capture of Ramzi bin al-Shibh. This was the primary communications director between the 9/11 hijackers and the al Qaeda leadership back in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    When al Shibh was captured, he was in the final stages of planning a KSM-conceived terror attack that we knew nothing about (Heathrow airport plot).

    From al Shibh’s capture, it led to more intell, including the capture of 4 operatives involved in the Heathrow plot.

    The most important revelation from Zubaydah’s waterboarding session? That it worked and was key to making committed jihadis feel that they had fulfilled their Islamic duty to resist; after which, they felt free to talk.

    As cited in my post, Thiessen writes in Courting Disaster, pg 90-1,

    The importance of this revelation cannot be overstated: Zubaydah had given the CIA the secret code for breaking al Qaeda detainees. CIA officials now understood that the job of the interrogator was to give the captured terrorist something to resist, so he could do his duty to Allah and then feel liberated to speak. So they developed techniques that would allow terrorists to resist safely, without any lasting harm. Indeed, they specifically designed techniques to give the terrorists the false perception that what they were enduring was far worse than what was actually taking place. Waterboarding, for example, is designed to create the impression that the terrorist is drowning when in fact he is not.

    ~~~

    This information, provided by Zubaydah after enhanced interrogation techniques were employed, was the secret to the success of the entire program. In fact, it is arguably responsible for everything we learned with the help of CIA interrogations.

    It paved the way for the use of waterboarding KSM, whose capture was aided by knowledge revealed by Zubaydah and al-Shibh. After being waterboarded, KSM didn’t stop talking for the next 3 years. Among the plots disrupted by his interrogation?

    -The “2nd wave” Library Tower plot

    -capture of al Majid, which subsequently led to Jemmaah Islamiyah operative Mohd Farik bin Amin, aka Zubair and his capture in June of 2003. This led to the NSA being able to track the JI network, leading to more and more intell.

    -Zubair led us to the capture of Hambali, KSM’s partner in the Library Tower plot. Captured along with Hambali was Bashir bin Lap. Because of this, more information was obtained from KSM because it allows interrogators to play detainees off of one another. CIA black sites allowed this sort of “triangulation” of detainees.

    There’s a lot more, btw. But 24’s about to begin (bring on the real torture-abusers!). So I hope you get the point?

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  13. Hard Right says: 13

    Braindead rob, ventura is a liar and a loon which is why the left loves him. He claims to have been a Navy S.E.A.L. He never was. He is a way out there Truther. This is in addition to being a misogynist. So if you think he’s someone worth quoting, you aren’t helping your cause.

    As for torture, it does work. By torture I don’t mean the hazing KSM got in the way of waterboarding. I mean the real kind of torture. The kind the Vietnamese used.
    I read a book or two by POWs and the majority them were broken by their captors. These were very determined men, but even they gave in after torture the mere description of which would make a lefty wet themselves. As for their version of waterboarding? NO COMPARISON to ours. We cared about not killing or actually harming the combatant. The Vietnamese had no such qualms.
    More proof that torture worked would be found during WWII. The Nazis vs. the French Resistence. They were especially effective at wiping out entire cells after catching just one person then torturing information out of them.
    In one of the unusual instances where it wasn’t working, they took a more horrible tack. They brought in the man’s brother. Then they began to dismember him……with a blowtorch. They started with his hands, then moved to his forearms. He eventually died, but only after suffering unimaginable agony. Then they brought in his wife and said they would do the same to her unless he talked. He did.

    Just to be clear, I am against torture.

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  14. Greg says: 14

    Thiessen? That would be the former Bush administration speech writer, who recently threw out this comment?

    “Today, the Obama administration is no longer attempting to capture men like these alive; it is simply killing them. This may be satisfying, but it comes at a price. With every drone strike that vaporizes a senior al Qaeda leader, actionable intelligence is vaporized along with him. Dead terrorists can’t tell you their plans to strike America.”

    I suspect his views differ from my own on a great many points. For example, I’m perfectly content to see some slim chance for future interrogation summarily vaporized along with a senior al Qaeda leader. (I trust the target’s Miranda rights have been printed on the side of the missile. We progressives are very sensitive about such things.)

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  15. Wordsmith says: 15

    Commercial break!

    Greg,

    The fact that Thiessen is in the Bush camp qualifies him as a partisan to be wary of, by your side. I understand the suspicion and skepticism. However, take time to research the message as much as you scrutinize the messenger; or reject outright. Thiessen, unlike so many of the critics, has talked directly with the CIA interrogators involved, as well as made privy to details of the program and what resulted from it in 2006. The critics have mostly opined from a position of ignorance as to the details of the CIA program, which they could only fantasize about in the worst possible light, conjuring up nightmare images of gulags and the Spanish Inquisition. If anything, the facts reveal just how restrained the CIA has been.

    I’m perfectly content to see some slim chance for future interrogation summarily vaporized along with a senior al Qaeda leader. (I trust the target’s Miranda rights have been printed on the side of the missile. We progressives are very sensitive about such things.)

    You do understand Thiessen’s criticism, don’t you? That the capture and interrogation of terrorists for intelligence leads to lives saved and plots foiled? Even greater kills and captures? Killing terrorists is mopping up the mess. Good and necessary; superior to this is capture and interrogation to “turn off the faucet”.

    The Obama Administration ended the CIA program that has been most successful in keeping America safe. The failed (not foiled) Christmas bombing is a sign of things to come, where we are now left blind.

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  16. Ivan says: 16

    This bears repeating. Again and again.

    Because Cheney, in all his life, political life or otherwise, to my knowledge has never shown a propensity for guile or deceit, and has always shown, by more than his words, a sincere desire to protect Americans. He is not what anybody with any discernment whatsoever would consider a dishonest or untrustworthy man.

    Is that good enough? Not many politicians can fit that mold, but he�s one, I know it in my bones.

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  17. Greg says: 17

    “You do understand Thiessen’s criticism, don’t you?”

    I understand the point and agree that there’s underlying sense to it. I’m just not sure it’s a valid basis for criticism. I imagine many situtations that offer drones a target of opportunity don’t also offer an opportunity for capture. Mr. Thiessen surely knows that well enough, so I considered his comment misleading.

    Regarding Mr. Cheney’s “propensity for guile or deceit”… Well, I’ve not trusted him since certain details about available intelligence during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq came out. Cheney’s connection to Haliburton and Haliburton’s Iraq contracts bothered me. The unanswered questions concerning the Valerie Plame incident certainly didn’t help. Nor did the peculiar jurisdictional goings on having to do with the unfortunate hunting incident. All past issues at this point, but they’ve left me with a lingering impression. I also take a dim view of Cheney being so outspoken regarding the successor administration. GWB’s restraint seems far more proper, and my respect for W increased enormously when he gave his reason for it. I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that I just don’t like Cheney, and that this has undoubtedly prejudiced my view of the man. His personality probably punches a button with me much as Obama’s punches a button with others.

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  18. Missy says: 18

    Well, in a joint operation the ISI and CIA captured a big one in Pakistan, the CIA was allowed to accompany the ISI on the raid.

    The Taliban’s top military commander was captured several days ago in Karachi, Pakistan, in a secret joint operation by Pakistani and American intelligence forces, according to American government officials. The commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, is an Afghan described by American officials as the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the American-led war in Afghanistan started more than eight years ago. He ranks second in influence only to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder and a close associate of Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks.

    KSM, Zubayda, bin al Shibh? ahh, but they are al Qaeda, doesn’t count. Or, what about the Taliban commander, Mullah Khairullah Kahirkhawa? Former Mayor of Kabul and later the Interior Minister of the Taliban government, then appointed by Mullah Omar to be the administrative head of Spin Boldak? Ever hear of him? Of course not. The SEALs nabbed him in an operation…. they planned, designed and executed his capture in less than an hour coordinating 40 U.S. and Danish Special Forces to get it done. This all happened back when our forces were babysitting the on the ground media personnel, but none of this has ever made it into the pages of the NYTimes.

    Interesting that the NYTimes honored a WH request and kept their mouth shut….this time:

    The New York Times learned of the operation on Thursday, but delayed reporting it at the request of White House officials, who contended that making it public would end a hugely successful intelligence-gathering effort. The officials said that the group’s leaders had been unaware of Mullah Baradar’s capture and that if it became public they might cover their tracks and become more careful about communicating with each other.

    And, what have we here?

    The officials said that Pakistan was leading the interrogation of Mullah Baradar, but that Americans were also involved. The conditions of the questioning are unclear. In its first week in office, the Obama administration banned harsh interrogations like waterboarding by Americans, but the Pakistanis have long been known to subject prisoners to brutal questioning.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/16/world/asia/16intel.html

    Yep, our guys are now limited to the Army Field Mannual but other countries will not tie their hands. Makes you wonder what the Pakistanis will do to get what they want out of the number 2. But, since Obama didn’t do away with rendition, any terrorist that is actually captured, not blasted to smitherines will be sent away for interrogation leaving this administration’s hands clean. We will depend on others for information to protect our troops and country.

    Have they sent a captive out for rendition as of yet? possibly. Maybe when the NYTimes gets permission from the WH to reveal such information, we will find out. Maybe.

    Now that this is known perhaps we can pick off some of the taliban bigwigs because they will be on the move. Another dreadful thing that may happen is that planned attacks may be stepped up. Hope they find the english speaking cohorts that are known to be in country…..somewhere….. before they decide to take out a mall. It took over a month and family members to get the Fruit of the Loom bomber to get this information. Let’s see how long it takes the Pakistanis to get Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar to tell them where, in Karachi, Mullah Omar is, if Omar hasn’t already split by now.

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  19. Will says: 19

    I can understand how Joe can feel that “it’s not effective”. He knows firsthand how pressures can cause a man to run his mouth like a Lamborghini. However his own bizarre utterances have not kept him from becoming Vice President and presiding over the Senate. His experience has in fact reinforced his belief in how effective a brazen lie can be.

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  20. Wordsmith says: 20

    @Greg:

    I understand the point and agree that there’s underlying sense to it. I’m just not sure it’s a valid basis for criticism. I imagine many situtations that offer drones a target of opportunity don’t also offer an opportunity for capture. Mr. Thiessen surely knows that well enough, so I considered his comment misleading.

    Fair enough. Predator drone attacks have increased under Obama, and it might have been the consistent case if Bush were still in office.

    Not sure, though, how those who are in uproar over waterboarding and the CIA program are fine with killing terrorists in a manner that has also been known to incur civilian casualties, along with it.

    Regarding Mr. Cheney’s “propensity for guile or deceit”… Well, I’ve not trusted him since certain details about available intelligence during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq came out.

    Can you provide me with specifics? Might be able to address those or learn something I hadn’t considered, yet.

    Cheney’s connection to Haliburton and Haliburton’s Iraq contracts bothered me.

    Why should they bother you?

    Cheney gave up millions to go back into public office. From Factcheck.org in 2004:

    To start, the $2 million figure is wrong. It is true that Cheney has received just under $2 million from Halliburton since his election, but nearly $1.6 million of that total was paid before Cheney actually took office on Jan. 20, 2001. Saying Cheney got that much “as vice president” is simply false.

    We asked Cheney’s personal attorney to document that, and he did, supplying several documents never released publicly before:

    *
    A Halliburton pay statement dated Jan 2, 2001 shows just under $147,579 was paid that day as “elect defrl payou,” meaning payout of salary from the company’s Elective Deferral Plan. That was salary Cheney had earned in 1999, but which he had chosen previously to receive in five installments spread over five years.
    *
    Another pay statement dated Jan. 18 shows $1,451,398 was paid that day under the company’s “Incentive Plan C” for senior executives. That was Cheney’s incentive compensation — bonus money — paid on the basis of the company’s performance in 2000. Cheney had formally resigned from the company the previous September to campaign full time, but the amount of his bonus couldn’t be calculated until the full year’s financial results were known.

    Cheney’s personal financial disclosure forms, together with the pay statements just mentioned, show that Cheney has received $398,548 in deferred salary from Halliburton “as vice president.” And of course, all of that is money he earned when he was the company’s chief executive officer. Cheney was due to receive another payment in 2004, and a final payment in 2005.

    The Kerry ad isn’t the only place the false $2 million figure appears. The Democratic National Committee also gets it wrong on their Web site. The dates of the Halliburton payments don’t appear on Cheney’s personal financial disclosure form from 2001, and the DNC assumed — incorrectly as we have shown — that all the 2001 payment were made after he took office.

    Deferred Salary

    The $398,548 Halliburton has paid to Cheney while in office is all deferred compensation, a common practice that high-salaried executives use to reduce their tax bills by spreading income over several years. In Cheney’s case, he signed a Halliburton form in December of 1998 choosing to have 50% of his salary for the next year, and 90% of any bonus money for that year, spread out over five years. (As it turned out, there was no bonus for 1999.) We asked Cheney’s personal attorney to document the deferral agreement as well, and he supplied us with a copy of the form, posted here publicly for the first time.

    Legally, Halliburton can’t increase or reduce the amount of the deferred compensation no matter what Cheney does as vice president. So Cheney’s deferred payments from Halliburton wouldn’t increase no matter how much money the company makes, or how many government contracts it receives.

    On the other hand, there is a possibility that if the company went bankrupt it would be unable to pay. That raises the theoretical possibility of a conflict of interest — if the public interest somehow demanded that Cheney take action that would hurt Halliburton it could conceivably end up costing him money personally. So to insulate himself from that possible conflict, Cheney purchased an insurance policy (which cost him $14,903) that promises to pay him all the deferred compensation that Halliburton owes him even if the company goes bust and refuses to pay. The policy does contain escape clauses allowing the insurance company to refuse payment in the unlikely events that Cheney files a claim resulting “directly or indirectly” from a change in law or regulation, or from a “prepackaged” bankruptcy in which creditors agree on terms prior to filing. But otherwise it ensures Cheney will get what Halliburton owes him should it go under.

    Cheney aides supplied a copy of that policy to us — blacking out only some personal information about Cheney — which we have posted here publicly for the first time.

    Stock Options

    That still would leave the possibility that Cheney could profit from his Halliburton stock options if the company’s stock rises in value. However, Cheney and his wife Lynne have assigned any future profits from their stock options in Halliburton and several other companies to charity. And we’re not just taking the Cheney’s word for this — we asked for a copy of the legal agreement they signed, which we post here publicly for the first time.

    The “Gift Trust Agreement” the Cheney’s signed two days before he took office turns over power of attorney to a trust administrator to sell the options at some future time and to give the after-tax profits to three charities. The agreement specifies that 40% will go to the University of Wyoming (Cheney’s home state), 40% will go to George Washington University’s medical faculty to be used for tax-exempt charitable purposes, and 20% will go to Capital Partners for Education, a charity that provides financial aid for low-income students in Washington, DC to attend private and religious schools.

    The agreement states that it is “irrevocable and may not be terminated, waived or amended,” so the Cheney’s can’t take back their options later.

    The options owned by the Cheney’s have been valued at nearly $8 million, his attorney says. Such valuations are rough estimates only — the actual value will depend on what happens to stock prices in the future, which of course can’t be known beforehand. But it is clear that giving up rights to the future profits constitutes a significant financial sacrifice, and a sizable donation to the chosen charities.

    “Financial Interest”

    Democrats have taken issue with Cheney’s statement to Tim Russert on NBC’s Meet the Press Sept. 14, 2003, when he said he had no “financial interest” in Halliburton:

    Cheney (Sept. 14, 2003): I’ve severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interests. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven’t had now for over three years. And as vice president, I have absolutely no influence of, involvement of, knowledge of in any way, shape or form of contracts led by the Corps of Engineers or anybody else in the federal government.

    Shortly after that, Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg released a legal analysis he’d requested from the Congressional Research Service. Without naming Cheney, the memo concluded a federal official in his position — with deferred compensation covered by insurance, and stock options whose after-tax profits had been assigned to charity — would still retain an “interest” that must be reported on an official’s annual disclosure forms. And in fact, Cheney does report his options and deferred salary each year.

    But the memo reached no firm conclusion as to whether such options or salary constitute an “interest” that would pose a legal conflict. It said “it is not clear” whether assigning option profits to charity would theoretically remove a potential conflict, adding, “no specific published rulings were found on the subject.” And it said that insuring deferred compensation “might” remove it as a problem under conflict of interest laws.

    Actually, the plain language of the Office of Government Ethics regulations on this matter seems clear enough. The regulations state: “The term financial interest means the potential for gain or loss to the employee . . . as a result of governmental action on the particular matter.” So by removing the “potential for gain or loss” Cheney has solid grounds to argue that he has removed any “financial interest” that would pose a conflict under federal regulations.

    Conflict of Interest

    It is important to note here that Cheney could legally have held onto his Halliburton stock options, and no law required him to buy insurance against the possibility that Halliburton wouldn’t pay the deferred compensation it owes him. Both the President and Vice President are specifically exempted from federal conflict-of-interest laws, for one thing, as are members of Congress and federal judges.

    And even federal officials who are covered by the law may legally own a financial interest in a company, provided they formally recuse themselves — stand aside — from making decisions that would have a “direct and predictable effect on that interest.” And Cheney says he’s done just that.

    Cheney says he takes no part in matters relating to Halliburton, and so far we’ve seen no credible allegation to the contrary. Time magazine reported in its June 7 edition that an e-mail from an unnamed Army Corps of Engineers official stated that a contract to be given to Halliburton in March 2003 “has been coordinated w VP’s [Vice President's] office.” But it wasn’t clear who wrote that e-mail, whether the author had direct knowledge or was just repeating hearsay, or even what was meant by the word “coordinated,” which could mean no more than that somebody in Cheney’s office was being kept informed of contract talks.

    Indeed, a few days later it was revealed that Cheney’s chief of staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby was informed in advance that Halliburton was going to receive an earlier contract in the fall of 2002 — to secretly plan post-war repair of Iraq’s oil facilities. But being informed of a decision after it is made is a far cry from taking part in making it. And according to the White House, Libby didn’t even pass on the information to Cheney anyway.

    Halliburton won the competitive bidding process for LOGCAP in 1992. (Logistics Civil Augmentation Program created by the United States Army). It is a program that uses a competitive bidding process to award a contract to a corporation to be on call to provide whatever services the Army might need. The Army concluded that the competitive bidding process for logistics and services was better handled before a time of war rather than during.

    Halliburton then lost that bidding process 5 years later in 1997. Despite this, President Clinton awarded a no-bid contract to Halliburton to support U.S. peacekeeping actions in the Balkans. Why? Because quite frankly, they are good at what they do, and one of the few companies that do it. There was no bidding, then, either. So where was the uproar? The simple non-conspiratorial fact is, Halliburton is a go-to company that’s been used for decades before Bush ever came into office.

    In 2001, it’s time for bidding on the LOGCAP contract again (before there was any Iraq war). Halliburton wins the bid. This means that at the time of the Iraq War Halliburton had the bid for providing logistical and other services to the U.S. government. Does anyone really believe in all sanity that Cheney- the VP- went to war to supposedly get his Halliburton friends rich?

    The unanswered questions concerning the Valerie Plame incident certainly didn’t help.

    What unanswered questions might those be? I thought this was all resolved.

    Nor did the peculiar jurisdictional goings on having to do with the unfortunate hunting incident.

    Recap, please? How does that tie in with any “loss of credibility” in truth-telling from Cheney?

    All past issues at this point, but they’ve left me with a lingering impression. I also take a dim view of Cheney being so outspoken regarding the successor administration.

    If the Obama Administration is going to take constant swipes at the previous administration, at every turn, I see nothing wrong with a former VP defending its record. Why allow Democrats to continue distorting history?

    GWB’s restraint seems far more proper, and my respect for W increased enormously when he gave his reason for it.

    I believe it is the traditional role of the VP to be the hatchet man. Yeah, I agree that Bush should keep his hands clean, above the fray, and let the rest of us get down and dirty in the mud, now.

    I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that I just don’t like Cheney, and that this has undoubtedly prejudiced my view of the man. His personality probably punches a button with me much as Obama’s punches a button with others.

    That’s a fair admission and acknowledgment on your part.

    Btw, the Cheneys have given generously, consistently each year, to charities. More than any other politician who comes to mind, at the moment.

    ReplyReply
  21. Wordsmith says: 21

    Seriously, Greg….how can you not love his sneer?

    ReplyReply
  22. Aqua says: 22

    @ BRob

    You’re a genius! And citing Jesse Ventura, sheer brilliance. I forwarded your post to the CIA, becuase I’m sure this is the first they’ve ever heard that things like water-boarding could illicit false information. I personally believe they had no idea or any way of knowing whether or not the information they receive during interrogations is quantifiable. I’ll let you know what they say. You may even be nominated for a Nobel. If AlGore and Obama can get one, you will surely be put on the short list.

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  23. BRob says: 23

    Aqua, you are the poster child for birth control. You wrote the following:

    “I personally believe they had no idea or any way of knowing whether or not the information they receive during interrogations is quantifiable.”

    So how do you think this works? CIA waterboards guy, then he tells them something they already “know”? The why waterboard him in the first place? Makes no sense. But it gets better.

    You waterboard the guy and he tells you something. You do what? Just act on it? Or do you try to confirm it?

    Cheney keeps saying they got lots of “information” from the people they tortured. Yeah. But how much of it was FALSE because they wanted the torture to stop?

    No one here will even addresses the obvious: people lie all the time and confess to things they have not done in order to end stressful, duressful questioning. The kids in the Central Park jogger case confessed to a gang rape, for God’s sake, that they did not commit. But for some bizarre reason, cons are operating off the baseless assumptions that (a) none of the tortured people lied to end the torture, (b) there was no other way to get information but to torture people, and (c) your government is TELLING THE TRUTH about the value of the information they got from the people they tortured. Hmm . . . you think Cheney might have a motive for claiming they got good stuff from torturing people?

    And, please, spare me the “we don’t torture” b.s. People died in interrogation after being beaten, suffocated, etc. If that happened in a small town holding cell, the sheriff would be up on charges. If it happened in a big city jail, they would be facing federal civil rights charges.

    ReplyReply
  24. Missy says: 24

    @BRob:

    Read the post, using Cheney and torture in your blather is nothing but a red herring. Waterboarding broke them, after that they were debriefed and that’s when they gave up the information.

    ReplyReply
  25. MataHarley says: 25

    Speaking of “poster children”, I see the Obama talking points parrot head, @billy bob, has been back leaving his droppings amongst new FA threads without cleaning up his excrement from others. So Curt, isn’t there an FA rule that when someone makes huge dumps like billy bob, they have to clean ‘em up or get a fine?? LOL

    BTW, apologies to all Jimmy Buffett “parrot head” fans out there for the inadvertent linkage with such a social neanderthal, Billy Bob. Truly, didn’t mean to cast aspersions on such a happy lot.

    CIA waterboarding techniques, also used in our own military training, bears no resemblence to the Vietnam water torture, billy bob. Nor did it resemble the Japanese water torture in WWII. Your comparisons reveal your stellar ability to absorb headlines instead of facts, and your utter dependence on a good paralegal to get thru your workday and appear even minimally competent.

    No one here will even addresses the obvious: people lie all the time and confess to things they have not done in order to end stressful, duressful questioning. The kids in the Central Park jogger case confessed to a gang rape, for God’s sake, that they did not commit.

    Aside the fact you’re comparing rigorously trained soldiers, and their equally dedicated enemies, with wet behind the ears street yard thugs like city gangs, you still miss your own obvious fly in the soup. Perhaps you think they’d spit out the truth in exchange for a Mickey D’s happy meal? Not likely. Kissing their butts with friendship has yielded zilch in intel compared to documented more stringent interrogation.

    And perhaps, billy bob, you miss another obvious. You seem to think “we cons” deny “torture”. Well…. yes we do because… to quote one of your heroes… it all depends upon what the meaning of “is”… is. I guarantee what you consider torture is not what I consider torture. I’m sure you hold with the other progressive losers that long periods of loud music and sleep deprivation are torture. I don’t. Nor do I consider controlled waterboarding for short segments, and under so many segments a day, torture.

    I’d say torture falls more under the heading of maiming, removal of limbs, and beheading. Something those being “tortured” do with nary a thought.

    But I will say that listening to you, desperately attempting to make cogent points out of parrot manure, is perhaps one of the most agonizing tortures of all.

    ReplyReply
  26. Aqua says: 26

    @ BRob

    Well genius, as someone that has actually been through some of our interrogation techniques, (not water-boarding though) I can tell you that is exactly the way it works. They never start off with a question they don’t know the answer to, EVER.
    And BTW, I have friends that were water-boarded in SERE school. They told me it was very effective. From what I understand, the thought of getting caught in a lie and having it repeated is enough to keep you honest. I don’t expect you to believe me nor do I give a rat’s a** whether you do or not.

    ReplyReply
  27. Curt says: 27

    So Curt, isn’t there an FA rule that when someone makes huge dumps like billy bob, they have to clean ‘em up or get a fine?? LOL

    I actually find it humorous. I will say that most of the intellectually honest lefties that have inhabited FA in the past will stick around on a thread for awhile, answering the counter-arguments they receive….but not this guy. He drops a few posts, gets his arguments torn asunder, and then disappears to a completely different thread to make the same argument. The real funny part is the fact that he probably doesn’t even realize how foolish it makes him look.

    ReplyReply
  28. Hard Right says: 28

    Curt, I think he laughs at how he posts one moronic post, and gets many responses. People like him think we are his Pavlovian dogs.
    I also don’t believe he’s a paralegal or even over 18. He’s too ignorant, gullible, and illogical.

    ReplyReply
  29. Wordsmith says: 29

    Hard Right,

    I’m drooling saliva, right now as I type.

    Curt,

    He reminds me a bit of Philly Steve. Talk about a broken record and inability to evolve his recycled talking points….

    @BRob #23:

    So how do you think this works? CIA waterboards guy, then he tells them something they already “know”? The why waterboard him in the first place? Makes no sense.

    As Missy reiterated to you what I had already cited in the post and repeated in a previous comment here, the purpose of waterboarding isn’t to obtain confessions or information. It’s to achieve cooperation. So the worn-out lefty hyperventilation about “They’ll tell you anything you want them to say when you torture” misunderstands the whole purpose of CIA enhanced interrogation techniques and how it works; when and why they are applied.

    But it gets better.

    You waterboard the guy and he tells you something. You do what? Just act on it? Or do you try to confirm it?

    As Aqua tried to tell you, you start out with asking questions that you know the answers to. I would imagine that this includes determining a baseline for how the detainee responds to certain questions, watching for body language, whether he’s accessing his memory or thinking up an answer, etc., I once worked for a loss prevention district manager (who was sought by the CIA, incidentally, to work for them) who was excellent at conducting interrogations. I got to sit in on some of her sessions with employees suspected of theft. Afterward, she’d point out how she strung him along with her questions, asking the right ones at the right moments based upon his previous responses; how she determined which way his eyes would shift when he was lying, and so on. It was quite an amazing process.

    Anyway, BRob should keep in mind that only about 100 detainees ever went into the CIA program, around 30 were ever recipients of enhanced interrogations; and only 3 were ever brought to the point of waterboarding, due to resistance to standard, traditional interrogation methods. The CIA start out with the least coercive techniques (starts out with “conditioning techniques”, followed by “corrective” techniques, then “coercive”), and escalate from there to achieve cooperation from the detainee. Waterboarding was only a small part of the whole process of extracting information- but it was the key for hardened jihadis such as Zubaydah and KSM, who received interrogation-resistance training.

    Cheney keeps saying they got lots of “information” from the people they tortured. Yeah. But how much of it was FALSE because they wanted the torture to stop?

    Again, you don’t seem to be getting it that

    1) “lots of information” was obtained from KSM and Zubaydah, in particular, leading to plots foiled, lives saved, additional captures leading to additional info. I mentioned a few of these to Greg. Were you paying attention?

    2)You mistake what the whole purpose of enhanced interrogation is: to achieve cooperation, not information. Not confessions.

    And, please, spare me the “we don’t torture” b.s. People died in interrogation after being beaten, suffocated, etc. If that happened in a small town holding cell, the sheriff would be up on charges. If it happened in a big city jail, they would be facing federal civil rights charges.

    BRob,

    There have been over 12 major reviews of U.S. detention operations since the War on Terror began. None found a pattern of abuse or government policy directives that endorsed, encouraged, or condoned abuses of detainees. There was also no linkage between interrogations and abuse. In fact, CIA interrogators were under the strictest of surveillance and legal restrictions, with no freelancing allowed. Any divergence resulted in removal.

    Furthermore, do you realize how relatively few cases there have been of actual abuse taking place?

    Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, out of about 50,000 detained, there have been about 300 allegations of abuse reports. Even if all 300 of these were substantiated, that would amount to abuse of .6%.

    Also consider, that out of 24,000 interrogations conducted at Guantanamo, there were only 3 instances of techniques being used that weren’t authorized. This includes one instance where a detainee was duct taped because he was screaming a “resistance message”, leading his interrogators to fear he was trying to start a riot. The other two instances were just as “mild” in divergence from standard, authorized procedures.

    There are no examples of broken bones, broken teeth, or other severe physical treatment of detainees held by the CIA. Nobody ever died in the CIA program, either. Guantanamo guards, on the other hand, have been seen a number of abuses at the hands of detainees, including broken bones and broken teeth. In 2009 alone, by September, there had been almost 800 assaults on guards. And they are forbidden to retaliate, even in the slightest.

    Of the 900 investigations by our military of alleged detainee abuse (from petty theft to homicides), 278 soldiers, 9 sailors, and 31 marines have been subject to punitive or administrative actions, such as court martial, letters of reprimand, and rank reduction. How many have served in theater in the last 8 years? Well over a million. That amounts to less than .000032% of those serving in the current conflict.

    By 2006, there had been about 100 deaths of detainees held by the U.S (under .125% out of the number captured)- many dying of natural causes and accidents. Contrast that to the 56,000 German POWs in WWII who may have died in American captivity, out of about 5 million captures (more than 1%).

    Yet you go on defining our military and CIA by the abuses, the aberrations, the slander as endemic and epidemic.

    This false characterization of how we are conducting ourselves in the war is what generates more terrorists, anti-Americanism, and harms our image and standing in the world. Not anything our CIA, military, and the last administration actually did.

    ReplyReply
  30. Aqua says: 30

    @ Wordsmith

    Very nice Word. He’ll never understand it though. He thinks Jesse Ventura knows about interrogation, how are you going to convince him otherwise? He will never understand that there is a whole team watching and listening to the interrogation and the science behind it. The left says we know nothing about science, all the while they run around screaming No Snow=Global Warming, A Whole Lot of Snow=Global Warming. Like Mata said, it’s like debating a parrott.

    ReplyReply
  31. Pingback: Killing vs. Capturing/Interrogating Terrorists

  32. Wordsmith says: 31

    @Wordsmith #20:

    @Greg:
    I understand the point and agree that there’s underlying sense to it. I’m just not sure it’s a valid basis for criticism. I imagine many situtations that offer drones a target of opportunity don’t also offer an opportunity for capture. Mr. Thiessen surely knows that well enough, so I considered his comment misleading.

    Fair enough. Predator drone attacks have increased under Obama, and it might have been the consistent case if Bush were still in office.

    Greg, I addressed your earlier comment more properly in a new post. Thanks! :)

    ReplyReply
  33. Greg says: 32

    Thanks for pointing out the related thread. I read it over, but can’t comment on Thiessen’s specific example of a lost intelligence opportunity. I just don’t know enough to second-guess an operational decision.

    ReplyReply
  34. Wordsmith says: 33

    Greg….neither do I! Just opining. But I found the WaPo article interesting, as well.

    ReplyReply
  35. Pingback: Torture doesn’t work…ok, so where’s the disagreement? | Flopping Aces

  36. Wordsmith says: 34

    @Wordsmith #20:

    I also take a dim view of Cheney being so outspoken regarding the successor administration.

    If the Obama Administration is going to take constant swipes at the previous administration, at every turn, I see nothing wrong with a former VP defending its record. Why allow Democrats to continue distorting history?

    GWB’s restraint seems far more proper, and my respect for W increased enormously when he gave his reason for it.

    I believe it is the traditional role of the VP to be the hatchet man. Yeah, I agree that Bush should keep his hands clean, above the fray, and let the rest of us get down and dirty in the mud, now.

    I was researching through some old comments and, in light of something I remember reading which was not made available at the time that this post was written, I thought I’d share this:

    On his second full day in office, President Obama signed an executive order directing that the detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, be closed within a year. He also ordered an end to the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, all of this in keeping with his many repeated and categorical pledges on the matter during the 2008 campaign. As a candidate, he had cast the issue in terms of constitutional imperatives, basic American values, and elementary standards of human rights- often in a tone suggesting that we in the Bush administration had not considered any of these, or, indeed, had violated them. Senator Obama had not really been challenged on such assertions during the presidential race. His opponen, Senator John McCain, actually agreed with Obama on some crucial points. And John’s preference, in any case, was that President Bush and I lie low and let him frame the election in his own way. Personally, I felt that a straightforward defense by the president and me would be better than no rebuttal at all from the White House, but it was John’s campaign and he deserved to run it the way he wanted.

    Even so, in those early days of the Obama administration, my first instinct was to let the criticism pass. But the subject kept coming up, and the president and members of his administration were making assertions about the program and its value that were inaccurate.

    ~~~

    At about the same time, President Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, signaled the possibility that the lawyers who prepared these memos and the intelligence officers who conducted enhanced interrogations might face professional sanctions or even criminal prosecution.

    I was appalled that the new administration would even consider punishing honorable public servants who had carried out the Bush administration’s lawful policies and kept the country safe. I was also deeply concerned about the selective fashion in which sensitive information was being declassified and made public. [Pg 521, In My Time]

    ~~~

    To describe what we had done as a program of torture, I said, “is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims.” I also challenged the whole assumption that American values were abandoned, or even compromised, in the fight against terrorists:

    ~~~

    In my long political career I had seen politicians run for the hills when things got tough, trying to distance themselves from those on the ground when subpoenas started arriving. I had no intention of turning my back on honorable public servants. To the contrary, I counted it a privilege to speak in their defense. [Pg 523, In My Time]

    ReplyReply

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