Monday, December 10, 2007


Here's an incredible story from ABC News:

A leader of the CIA team that captured the first major al Qaeda figure, Abu Zubaydah, says subjecting him to waterboarding was torture but necessary.

In the first public comment by any CIA officer involved in handling high-value al Qaeda targets, John Kiriakou, now retired, said the technique broke Zubaydah in less than 35 seconds.

"The next day, he told his interrogator that Allah had visited him in his cell during the night and told him to cooperate," said Kiriakou in an interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC News' "World News With Charles Gibson" and "Nightline."

"From that day on, he answered every question," Kiriakou said. "The threat information he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks."

That last sentence is the one the Bush administration wants us to focus on. Supposedly because Zubaydah "answered every question," terror attacks were averted. Predictably, Kiriakou does not offer even one specific instance of a terror attack being thwarted because Zubaydah was tortured.

If one reads the ABC transcript, one sees that Brian Ross tries to get Kiriakou to give specifics about what terror attacks may have been thwarted. For example:

And in terms of the actual planned future attacks?
Yeah, we disrupted a lot of them.
And he knew about them?
He knew about some. But like I say, it was time-sensitive information. So that-- that wound down over time.
And the ones that he knew about, were they on US soil? Were they in Pakistan?
You know, I was out of it by then. I had moved onto a new job. And I-- I don't recall. To the best of my recollection, no, they weren't on US soil. They were overseas. (pp. 19-20)

So Kiriakou claims ignorance about specific terror attacks because by then he'd moved on to other missions. But, as far as he can recall, the attacks that were supposedly stopped by torturing Zubaydah weren't even on U.S. soil--they were overseas!. Isn't that interesting? So Kiriakou wants to assure us that torture works and that the United States is safer because we torture people who tell us about terror attacks...that aren't on U.S. soil!

Kiriakou then reveals that all the gradually intensifying torture techniques were specifically authorized by the higher-ups in the CIA; the interrogators sought and received approval from CIA headquarters to take it up a notch. Oh, but they weren't worried about killing Zubaydah because there was always a doctor in the room. And you know that doctors are taught to "first, do no harm..."

"Al Qaeda is not like a World War Two German POW"

Kiriakou then tells Ross that he feels torture was necessary, and that he didn't have weeks or months to play chess with Zubaydah like captured Germans in WWII. He says that "al Qaeda is not like a World War Two German POW. It's a different world."

I would agree with that assessment. For example, Germany had actually invaded and conquered several countries. They methodically killed 6 million Jews with the assistance of IBM (the Nazis were also financed in part by several Americans, including George W. Bush's grandfather). Al Qaeda has done nothing of the sort. At their worst, al Qaeda killed a few thousand Americans on one day--if you believe the official story, which most Americans do not.

So yeah, I can see why we have to torture a much weaker enemy that has no army, hasn't conquered a single country, hasn't killed anywhere near 6 million Jews, etc.

Really an amazing interview...So much I don't have time or energy to go into it all, but Kiriakou goes on to say that once Zubaydah was broken, they'd go bounce info off of him for him to confirm or refute. And I'm sure Zubaydah always told them the truth and provided "actionable intelligence." That's how they found Osama bin Laden and captured...him...

Oh wait, Osama still hasn't been captured, has he...Ohhh riiiight...bin Laden hasn't been captured yet because torture is so necessary and so effective...Give me a break.

Ross opens part 2 of the transcript with a question about whether or not Zubaydah knew the whereabouts of bin Laden, and guess what, Zubaydah hadn't seen ol' Osama in months. How very convenient--he knew all about terror attacks on foreign soil but had no clue where to find or who to talk to about where to find Bush's favorite bogeyman.

Other random observations from the first part of the transcript

Tenet had a trauma surgeon sent to Pakistan specifically for the purpose of treating Zubaydah who had been shot three times during his capture. So basically we revived a guy (Kiriakou says in the ABC transcript that Zubaydah "almost died") so we could torture him to a point just before death. We almost killed him once when capturing him and then again after we used taxpayer money to make sure he didn't die from gunshot wounds.

In the ABC transcript, Kiriakou tells Brian Ross that when Zubaydah awoke from his coma (resulting from the first time we tried to kill him), Kiriakou said "We have plans for you." I wonder if what Kiriakou really said was "Ve haf vays to make you talk," but he didn't want to tell Ross or the American public that.

Kiriakou expresses surprise that Zubaydah is actually a very friendly person who spoke very good English and even wrote poetry and debated the merits of his religion. You know, a normal person.

Ross asks Kiriakou if Zubaydah talked about 9/11 and Kiriakou says he did. Interestingly, Kiriakou never indicates that Zubaydah took credit for 9/11. Apparently Zubaydah only said that 9/11 was "necessary," according to the ABC transcript.

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