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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Are we in Iraq because we tortured Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi ?

Michael Isikoff (who has received a couple of knocks from the guys recently) explains.

al-Libi was the first high ranking al Qaeda leader to be captured after 9/11.

Continuing to rely on al-Libi's version, Powell then told how a bin Laden operative seeking help in acquiring poisons and gases had forged a "successful" relationship with Iraqi officials in the late 1990s and that, as recently as December 2000, Iraq had offered "chemical or biological weapons training for two Al Qaeda associates."

However, this rather serious intelligence error seems to have been the result of uhm "aggressive interrogation."
Al-Libi "subsequently recounted a different story," said one U.S. official. "It's not clear which version is correct. We are still sorting this out." Some officials now suspect that al-Libi, facing aggressive interrogation techniques, had previously said what U.S. officials wanted to hear.

So the question is, are we in Iraq because of "aggressive interrogation" of al-Libi. More experienced practitioners could have told us produce massive but unreliable information, which is only useful if it can be confirmed or rejected before you spend your second hundred billion. But of course, the Bush administration wanted to keep what it was doing secret.

One might argue that evidence of links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda was irrelevant, since it had nothing to do with Bush's decision to invade Iraq. However, I don't think that one would like to do that, if one were George Bush.

So which is it ? Did we get in a quagmire because we chose to use "aggressive interrogation techniques" or because the President chose to invade for reasons he didn't want to share with the people ?

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