Bush Administration Used Torture to Not Find Links between 9/11 and Iraq

As I wrote earlier, one defense tactic employed by the pro-torture crowd is to make the argument that “ticking time bomb” scenarios justified the inhumane interrogations. But then we learned that Abu Zuybadah was waterboarded 183 times in one month, which at the time the information came available, either suggested the presence of an improbably high number of time bombs or revealed that the interrogations were pervesely used as punishment. Now that the Senate Armed Services Committee has released a report on “enhanced interrogation techniques,” we found there was another reason: complete stupidity. McClatchy reports.

Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn’t any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam, and that no such ties were likely because the two were fundamentally enemies, not allies.”

Senior administration officials, however, “blew that off and kept insisting that we’d overlooked something, that the interrogators weren’t pushing hard enough, that there had to be something more we could do to get that information,” he said.

The article itself goes in to a fair amount of detail, so I’d suggest a full read. That the torture techniques employed were based on methods aimed at extracting false confessions from U.S. prisoners of war only makes the Bush Administration look worse, if that’s even possible. Not only were intelligence gathering agencies unable to produce any legitimate link between Iraq and al Qaeda (though they did hire Doug Feith to fabricate such “intelligence”), they couldn’t even extract a false confession to make the connection and still prosecuted the war anyway.

To call the Bush Administration morally bankrupt would be an insult to sociopaths everywhere. These people were truly reprobate degenerates.

For some good reporting on the issue, check out Spencer Ackerman here.

Diversionary Tactics

An interesting hypothesis I’ve been meaning to write but just haven’t. Ahmed Rashid, for BBC, beats me to the punch:

The group that attacked Mumbai may well include some Pakistanis, but it is more likely to be an international terrorist force put together by al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taleban, who are besieged by the Pakistan army on one side and a rain of missiles being launched by US forces in Afghanistan against their hideouts on the other.

Al-Qaeda is looking for some relief and a diversion.

What better way to do so than by provoking the two old enemies – India and Pakistan – with a terrorist attack that diverts attention away from the tribal areas?

Such a move would force Pakistani troops back to the Indian border while simultaneously pre-occupying US and Nato countries in hectic diplomacy to prevent the region exploding.

A diversion such as this would preserve extremist sanctuaries along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and would provide militants with a much needed respite – especially considering that in the next few months President-elect Barak Obama is due to send an additional 20,000 US troops to Afghanistan, backed by more Nato troops.

What’s more, recognizing the likelihood of this motivation can provide a meaningful platform for Pakistani-Indian rapprochement. Meanwhile, I’m not sure how likely the occurrence of such a positive step really is, but the generally restrained behavior from both countries has been an important first step.

On a totally unrelated note, my inability to prove that this is something I had hypothesized before Rashid put it in writing reminded me of this. Happy Friday.

al-Qaeda Rears

The AP reports that Al-Qaeda has emerged briefly to insult Barack Obama:

(CAIRO, Egypt) — Al-Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri is criticizing Barack Obama in a new message, calling him a demeaning racial term implying that the president-elect is a black American who does the bidding of whites.

Al-Zawahri says in an audio message, which appeared on militant Web sites Wednesday, that Obama is “the direct opposite of honorable black Americans” like Malcolm X. He calls Obama a “house negro.”

The audio plays over still pictures of al-Zawahri, Malcolm X praying, and Obama with Jewish leaders.

In the first public al-Qaeda comment about Obama’s electoral victory, al-Zawahri adds that Obama’s plan to shift troops to Afghanistan is doomed to failure, because Afghans will resist.

Say what al-Qaeda may, I’d rather be a “house negro” than a “cave terrorist.” Anyway, along these lines, when does al-Qaeda become the white trash of anti-American groups? Iran clearly represents the aristocracy; legitimately undermining U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf and positioning themselves to impact world oil prices certainly poses a greater threat to long term American security than does al-Qaeda. I don’t mean to suggest that 9/11 or other terrorist acts carried out in al-Qaeda’s name (AQI) aren’t loathsome or horrific, but the notion that al-Qeada represents a serious existential threat to the United States is a tad overblown.

Interesting…

I’ll have more comment on this “Secret Order Lets U.S. Raid Al Qaeda in Many Countries” later, but for now:

For example, shortly after Ethiopian troops crossed into Somalia in late 2006 to dislodge an Islamist regime in Mogadishu, the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command quietly sent operatives and AC-130 gunships to an airstrip near the Ethiopian town of Dire Dawa. From there, members of a classified unit called Task Force 88 crossed repeatedly into Somalia to hunt senior members of a Qaeda cell believed to be responsible for the 1998 American Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

Task Force 88? Really? Was Austin Powers not available?

Syriana

I’m surprised there wasn’t more talk around the blogosphere yesterday about our little skirmish into Syria. In general, this is the same basic tactic Barack Obama has outlined in terms of raids in Pakistan, with one notable difference. On the target of the raid, Abu Ghadiya:

One United States official described Abu Ghadiya as Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia’s “most prominent” smuggler of foreign operatives crossing the Syrian border into Iraq, and in February the Treasury Department named him as one of four major figures in that group living in Syria.

Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, or AQI, only became an insurgency after we invaded Iraq. While these targeted raids unquestionably beat invading countries at random to “show our strength” as a counter terrorism strategy, this particular target only exists because we opted to give the invading countries at random strategy a spin first.