Saturday, December 20, 2008

David Rose has an important article in Vanity Fair about Torture

He argues, at very convincing length with extensive specific evidence, that statements extracted by torture are completely unreliable -- what the tortured person thinks the torturers want to hear.

He definitely claims that José Padilla's alleged dirty bomb plot was made up by Abu Zubaydah while Abu Zubaydah was being tortured. That was the issue which caused Bush to decide that the Bill of Rights and the Magna Carta were obsolete.

I have written fairly often about the hypothesis that the torture of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi contributed to the US decision to invade Iraq (not to convincing Bush of course but to convincing so many people to agree). Rose claims the same is true of the torture of Abu Zubaydah based on the claims of two anonymous sources.

The tribunal president, a colonel whose name is redacted, asked him: “So I understand that during this treatment, you said things to make them stop and then those statements were actually untrue, is that correct?” Abu Zubaydah replied: “Yes.”

Some of those statements, say two senior intelligence analysts who worked on them at the time, concerned the issue that in the spring of 2002 interested the Bush administration more than almost any other—the supposed operational relationship between al-Qaeda and Iraq. Given his true position in the jihadist hierarchy, Abu Zubaydah “would not have known that if it was true,” says Coleman. “But you can lead people down a course and make them say anything.”

Some of what he did say was leaked by the administration: for example, the claim that bin Laden and his ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were working directly with Saddam Hussein to destabilize the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. There was much more, says the analyst who worked at the Pentagon: “I first saw the reports soon after Abu Zubaydah’s capture. There was a lot of stuff about the nuts and bolts of al-Qaeda’s supposed relationship with the Iraqi Intelligence Service. The intelligence community was lapping this up, and so was the administration, obviously. Abu Zubaydah was saying Iraq and al-Qaeda had an operational relationship. It was everything the administration hoped it would be.”

Within the administration, Abu Zubaydah’s interrogation was “an important chapter,” the second analyst says: overall, his interrogation “product” was deemed to be more significant than the claims made by Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, another al-Qaeda captive, who in early 2002 was tortured in Egypt at the C.I.A.’s behest. After all, Abu Zubaydah was being interviewed by Americans. Like the former Pentagon official, this official had no idea that Abu Zubaydah had been tortured.

“As soon as I learned that the reports had come from torture, once my anger had subsided I understood the damage it had done,” the Pentagon analyst says. “I was so angry, knowing that the higher-ups in the administration knew he was tortured, and that the information he was giving up was tainted by the torture, and that it became one reason to attack Iraq.”


derrida derider said...

Yep, in 2002-3 the US acquired its first clear-cut no-argument-about-it set of war criminals.

Anonymous said...

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