Friday, April 24, 2009

An FBI Agent Speaks to Torture Memos

Ali Soufan, a FBI agent who interrogated Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubayda using traditional (non-enhanced) methods, speaks out in a NY Times Op-Ed piece, about the use of those methods and their effectiveness. He notes that they were able to get good actionable intelligence, and that whatever intelligence that was supposedly gained by torture could have been gained using other methods.

He also points out that the CIA decision to use these methods put up a wall between CIA and FBI that made further interrogations and anti-terrorism efforts more difficult.

One of the worst consequences of the use of these harsh techniques was that it reintroduced the so-called Chinese wall between the C.I.A. and F.B.I., similar to the communications obstacles that prevented us from working together to stop the 9/11 attacks. Because the bureau would not employ these problematic techniques, our agents who knew the most about the terrorists could have no part in the investigation. An F.B.I. colleague of mine who knew more about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed than anyone in the government was not allowed to speak to him.

I think that this is important information that counters the "rationale" for torture, and gets us back on top of the conversation as to make sure this doesn't happen again. I appreciate Mr. Soufan's courage in speaking out.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Still smells like vengeance to me. Testing how strong their "faith" was maybe? It's just disgusting.

David Mc

Anonymous said...

Hold on to your socks...

WASHINGTON – The Defense Department will release a "substantial number" of photos depicting abuse of prisoners by U.S. personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan,...

These photographs provide visual proof that prisoner abuse by U.S. personnel was not aberrational but widespread, reaching far beyond the walls of Abu Ghraib," Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU, said in a statement. "Their disclosure is critical for helping the public understand the scope and scale of prisoner abuse as well as for holding senior officials accountable for authorizing or permitting such abuse."

No surprise, but a pic can say a thousand words, as we know.

It's best to get this all out.

David Mc

Anonymous said...

I feel like I might have come across a bit cocky above. I’m actually not some knee-jerk liberal. In fact, I have a nephew who was training to be a Marine (Camp Lejeune) on 9-11-2001.

He camped in the sands of Kuwait for several weeks waiting for orders (they called it UWait!). I remember the letters, the fear he had that Saddam surely had many advanced weapons that will “pop up from the sand” and kill him in an instant as they moved in. It was surreal to hear this talk of death from someone so young, happy and healthy. They had to be strong since the amount of safety equipment, sensors and supplies, all the experimental vaccines and prophylactics (for poison and germs, not STDs) they had administered etc, that were never needed were an awesome burden for them. An extra large burden to add their already heavy load to support an American administration’s murderous farce. He didn’t like wearing bio-rad suits in 100+F weather, that’s for sure.

After the initial invasion, he fought many battles including the bloody battles of Nasseria, to Afghanistan and back to Iraq many times. Many places I wasn’t allowed to know. When he was finally discharged and went to college, he got ants-in-his pants, missed his buddies and decided to return. Next month he’s supposed to be done. He has a girlfriend now. I’m keeping my fingers crossed he’ll stay for her this time.

Anyway, I’ve kept myself informed. Don’t hate me for caring, or being aware I was being lied to.
And yes, I’m thankful he’s alive. I hope he’s well inside too.

David Mc

Anonymous said...

Re: Your Concerns
Thursday, April 23, 2009 6:27 PM
From:
"senator_levin levin.senate.gov" senator_levin levin.senate.gov
Add sender to Contacts


On September 16, 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney suggested that the United States turn to the “dark side” in our response to 9/11. Not long after that, after White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales called parts of the Geneva Conventions “quaint,” President Bush determined that provisions of the Geneva Conventions did not apply to certain detainees. Other senior officials followed the President and Vice President’s lead, authorizing policies that included harsh and abusive interrogation techniques....

David Mc

Anonymous said...

I guess I scared everybody away. Sorry.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

In an important sense, this debate means the terrorists have won. To explain: One of the stated al-Qaeda goals was to undermine our democracy and our values. Even G.W. Bush said famously, "They hate our freedoms," which, though simplistic, has more than a grain of truth. But we are less free today.

Prior to 9/11, there was no debate over torture. We may have been morally confused over many things, but we were united against torture. It wasn't left vs. right or Democratic vs. Republican, but right vs. wrong. Newt Gingrich opposed "most favored nation" trading status with China in the '90s because of China's known propensity to torture.

It's not that America never tortured. The CIA had tortured before and trained others to do so more effectively. But the consensus against torture was such that they had to lie about it. And when discovered, they were punished. No one defended CIA torturers as "just following orders."

The UN Convention Against Torture was signed by RONALD REAGAN and ratified by a Republican majority Senate.

Nor did we try to redefine torture to not include waterboarding. In 1898, during the Spanish-American war, a U.S. soldier was caught waterboarding a prisoner. He was promptly court-martialed and spent 10 years in prison.

In the aftermath of WWII, we tried several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American prisoners. Some we imprisoned and some we hung!

During the Vietnam war, a U.S. photographer caught an American soldier on film helping South Vietnamese soldiers waterboard a captured North Vietnamese soldier. The American G.I. was promptly court-martialed and given 20 years in prison. No Republican defended his behavior.

It's good we are having this debate because we need to regain our moral compass. But the fact that this IS a debate shows how far we have lost that moral compass.

And I am terrified that leading Republicans are framing this in a partisan way and saying that this is "criminalizing policy disputes." I am terrified because I read the subtext of such statements to mean, "We will reinstate these policies when we are back in power. And, since you exposed these methods to our enemies, we will have to authorize other secret methods, like electricity to the genitals, psychotropic drugs, pulling our finger and toenails, etc."

We have to have trials to reinforce that this is NOT a "policy difference" but a matter of law. In fact, these are warcrimes. If we do not treat them as such, we are asking for a repeat with worse war criminals.

We have lost our way, morally, as a nation. No, this is not "false equivalency" with terrorists. Yes, we are still better than them--but what a comparison. The difference is now one of degree, not kind. If we do not stop this slippery slope, we will continue to degrade until there is no difference.

We cannot deny terrorists their victory unless we try torturers for their war crimes--especially those who authorized them, including those at the very top: Rumsfeld, Rice, Ashcroft, Gonzalez, Mukasey, Cheney, and Bush.

Political revenge? No. Upholding the rule of law and defending human rights? Yes.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Michael, I think that ultimately it will require a Congressional Investigation that sets legislative constraints on torture. Or, as you point out, things will change from one presidency to another.

Ultimately what this whole episode has done is undermine America's moral authority in the world. For many people, unfortunately, Americans can do things others shouldn't. And if they do things, then so should we.