Dick Cheney’s Counterterrorism Incompetence Continues to Endanger Us
When I was out tromping around Yosemite (!!) on Friday, one of Najibullah Zazi’s co-conspirators, Zarein Ahmedzay, plead guilty to two terrorism-related charges.
Mark that up as yet another counterterrorism victory for civilian courts.
But it’s more than that. As Isikoff and Hosenball emphasize, the government revealed on Friday that Zazi and Ahmedzay received instructions from two top al Qaeda figures–Saleh al-Somali and Rashid Rauf–in 2008. Here’s how DOJ reveals the detail in their press release:
As Ahmedzay admitted during today’s guilty plea allocution and as reflected in previous government filings and the guilty plea allocution of co-defendant Najibullah Zazi, Ahmedzay, Zazi and a third individual agreed to travel to Afghanistan to join the Taliban and fight against United States and allied forces. In furtherance of their plans, they flew from Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J., to Peshawar, Pakistan at the end of August 2008. Ahmedzay and the third individual attempted to enter Afghanistan but were turned back at the border and returned to Peshawar.
Within a few days, Ahmedzay, Zazi and the third individual met with an al-Qaeda facilitator in Peshawar and agreed to travel for training in Waziristan. Upon arriving, they met with two al-Qaeda leaders, but did not learn their true identities. As the government represented during today’s guilty plea, the leaders were Saleh al-Somali, the head of international operations for al-Qaeda, and Rashid Rauf, a key al-Qaeda operative. The three Americans said that they wanted to fight in Afghanistan, but the al-Qaeda leaders explained that they would be more useful to al-Qaeda and the jihad if they returned to New York and conducted attacks there. [my emphasis]
Now, that’s interesting for several reasons. Rauf, as you might recall, had a key role in planning the foiled 2006 attempt to use liquid explosives to blow up airliners (potentially using the same TATP Zazi was going to use in his plot). The British were busy conducting a solid law enforcement investigation of the plot and were working with Pakistan to extradite Rauf. But partly in an effort to shore up Bush’s crappy poll numbers, Cheney and the guy who ordered the destruction of the torture tapes, Jose Rodriguez, asked the Pakistanis to pick up Rauf before the Brits could finish their investigation. Here’s how Ron Suskind described what happened.
NPR: I want to talk just a little about this fascinating episode you describe in the summer of 2006, when President Bush is very anxious about some intelligence briefings that he is getting from the British. What are they telling him?
SUSKIND: In late July of 2006, the British are moving forward on a mission they’ve been–an investigation they’ve been at for a year at that point, where they’ve got a group of “plotters,” so-called, in the London area that they’ve been tracking…Bush gets this briefing at the end of July of 2006, and he’s very agitated. When Blair comes at the end of the month, they talk about it and he says, “Look, I want this thing, this trap snapped shut immediately.” Blair’s like, “Well, look, be patient here. What we do in Britain”–Blair describes, and this is something well known to Bush–”is we try to be more patient so they move a bit forward. These guys are not going to breathe without us knowing it. We’ve got them all mapped out so that we can get actual hard evidence, and then prosecute them in public courts of law and get real prosecutions and long prison terms”…
Well, Bush doesn’t get the answer he wants, which is “snap the trap shut.” And the reason he wants that is because he’s getting all sorts of pressure from Republicans in Congress that his ratings are down. These are the worst ratings for a sitting president at this point in his second term, and they’re just wild-eyed about the coming midterm elections. Well, Bush expresses his dissatisfaction to Cheney as to the Blair meeting, and Cheney moves forward.
NPR: So you got the British saying, “Let’s carefully build our case. Let’s get more intelligence.” Bush wants an arrest and a political win. What does he do?
SUSKIND: Absolutely. What happens is that then, oh, a few days later, the CIA operations chief–which is really a senior guy. He’s up there in the one, two, three spots at CIA, guy named Jose Rodriguez ends up slipping quietly into Islamabad, Pakistan, and he meets secretly with the ISI, which is the Pakistani intelligence service. And suddenly a guy in Pakistan named Rashid Rauf, who’s kind of the contact of the British plotters in Pakistan, gets arrested. This, of course, as anyone could expect, triggers a reaction in London, a lot of scurrying. And the Brits have to run through the night wild-eyed and basically round up 25 or 30 people. It’s quite a frenzy. The British are livid about this. They talk to the Americans. The Americans kind of shrug, “Who knows? You know, ISI picked up Rashid Rauf.”
DAVIES: So the British did not even get a heads-up from the United States that this arrest was going to happen?
SUSKIND: Did not get a heads-up. In fact, the whole point was to mislead the British…The British did not know about it, frankly, until I reported it in the book… [my emphasis]
And that, in turn, had two effects. First, it screwed up the British investigation, making it much harder for them to convict the plotters remaining in the UK. In addition, it put Rauf in Pakistani, not British, custody. In 2007, he was allowed to escape, when Pakistani authorities let his uncle, rather than the police, escort him back to prison after a court appearance. And that’s why Rauf was free to plan further plots in the UK and, apparently, Zazi’s planned attack on the NY Subway.
American authorities claim to have killed Rauf (and Saleh al-Somali) with two separate drone strikes in late 2008. But it remains unclear whether Rauf actually died in that 2008 strike.
So he may still be out there, because Dick Cheney wanted to boost Bush’s poll ratings rather than let the Brits develop their case and extradite Rauf into secure custody in 2006.
I’ve been wondering since Zazi was arrested why the right-wingers don’t want to talk about him at all, ignoring the Zazi case to instead squawk about the underwear bomber. I’m beginning to wonder if this is the reason: Dick Cheney’s refusal to let law enforcement work four years ago exposed us to at least three more years of Rauf’s plotting.
A bunch of NY subway riders may have almost gotten killed last September 11 because Dick Cheney wanted to boost poll numbers in 2006 rather than let law enforcement work.
I am sure Baby Dick will be along on a media blitz any moment now railing about how this case demonstrates the Obama Administration and Democrats are jeopardizing the safety and existence of America. Only a Cheney can keep us safe…..
Keep America scared. Cheney has to be holding back for some reason right now. Busy planning something devious in his bunker.
Dick on the Dennis Miller show
Dick Cheney: Telling Patrick Leahy ‘F–k Yourself’ Was ‘Sort Of The Best Thing I Ever Did’
think Dick could take this quiz and pass? Juan Cole had this up at his site
Can You Pass The Iran Quiz
Yeah, ISI let Rauf’s uncle escort him from jail. That’s not an escape, but a red carpet rolled out of jail.
It strikes me that the assassination policy is one way to remove possible witnesses from the scene.
Who are these anonymous third individuals? Who handled Zazi after Rauf’s death or disappearance? How does the US know who Zazi and co. met with, but Zazi didn’t know their names?
Maybe it went down as Suskind said. But I think there are a number of Al Qaeda types with old links to US intel from the 1980s-90s that the US would rather have unknown. Also, there is the possibility of even ongoing ties. Throw in the ISI abd MI6 and you’ve a modern version of the great game.
You did see my article, where I noted that both individuals linked w/ the AQ manual had links to US or UK intel or special forces?
This incident (the Cheney involvement, the Bush concern) is yet another proof of the meme that for Bush, politics trumped governing every time. I wonder if it ever occurred to Bush that there is a difference between being a Republican candidate, and being the head of government. Of course, Karl Rove was his First Minister of Politics.
During his second term, Bush finally started to “get” the difference. But he was utterly unprepared to Govern. But by that time, his politicization of government was largely in place.
Bob in AZ
Cheney can’t surprise me any more. He is the lowest of the low.
For a professional journalist, he really leans on the words wild-eyed.
It’s not lost on us that Jose Rodriguez is the CIA action man for Cheney in this story – making us wonder if that wasn’t also true the previous November. Destroying the CIA Tapes sounds very Cheney-esque.
Who was that in the torture tape document dump who was asking “Please” do not tape over or destroy the video tapes?” Who was that asking “please”
Cheney was not satisfied with undermining U.S. National Security by outing Plame, starting an unnecessary war based on lies, ordering torture, he had to undermine the U.K.’s national security too.
Put this dangerous troll in an orange suit throw him in a cell and throw away the key all ready.
Oh thank you Biggus Dickus for doing just what we thought had been done and f*cking up a perfectly good investigation that would have gotten several potential terrorists (real ones, not the imaginary ones you’ve been chasing) off the streets.
(That was a long way to go for a fishing trip, ew. And one of my co-workers was there last weekend also. He camped in Little Yosemite Valley.)
It ain’t that little.
Oh, it’s real. It’s a ‘hanging valley’, up behind Nevada Falls.
Did you get to Tuolumne Meadows, EW? Probably still closed off now, I suspect. One of my favorite places. I made many trips there.
Not yet open, yeah. Routine winter closure, per CalTrans. Probably open sometime around Memorial Day.
Nope, it was closed off, plus this was Mr. ew’s first trip to Yosemite so I had to show him the splendors of the valley.
Great trip! So happy you took the time for R&R and to introduce Mr. EW to some of the beauty that is still part of this country. Hope you get to Tuolumne Meadows some other day. Big Sur, too.
I took my daughter for a “dream vacation” in August of 2006, and ended up in Heathrow on August 12th on our way to Boston. What a freaking nightmare. People sleeping all over the airport, employees frantic, and 5 checkpoints between the ticket counter and the plane. (We were able to convince the ticket agent that we should be able to fly because I could prove I’d paid for the tickets the previous November) We had to skedaddle (skdadl) to the plane–literally run–but landed first class seats. Unfortunately, we had to give up (throw away) everything we’d just purchased on our trip. We could only carry our airline boarding passes, baggage claim tickets and passports. All else was tossed. Fortunately, I made my daughter put on her expensive sunglasses from Florence on her head, and she was able to save them. What a terrible trip with no lipstick or chapstick, toothbrush, books, magazines, computers, etc. Even in first class it was a nightmare…the flight crew was really scared.
Ex-MI6 officer attacks America’s torture policy
US response to al-Qaida exaggerated and counterproductive, says Nigel Inkster, former assistant MI6 chief
The English always understate the money quote. From the Guardian (emphasis mine):
yosemite in late april,
what a TRIP.
the cabins would have been cold, lots of blankets required.
delightful for pulling the blankets over one’s head and sleeping the sleep of hibernation.
the mornings cold and clear, demanding hot coffee (or two) and a solid hot breakfast – no danish, no begels.
We slept in the Curry camvas tents. But we did bring sleeping bags so were plenty warm.
a most informative cite.
i could not have said it better than nigel inkster.
i would add, the entire bush-obama war on terror is a continuing fraud on the american nation and people
by politicians toonscared to tell the truth about the trivial danger these muslim flakes represent
and too prospering from the benefits isolated, successful “terrorism” attacks bequeath them,
to attack the minimal threat muslim terrorists pose, forego the benefits of exploiting the terrorist trifecta,
and focusing our national resources where they properly belong –
educating our young, employing our adults productively, and using our science and technology to generate new economic opportunities.
Well said, orionATL!
Thanks for the link faster.
Here’s the link to the Inkster/Nicoll “Comment” Richard Norton-Taylor is talking about:
“Terrorism: keep calm and carry on”; Nigel Inkster and Alexander Nicoll; 4/26/10
I’m smiling about the “bags, mugs and clothing bearing the phrase Keep Calm and Carry On”.
“.,.the lack of propotionality… ”
that’s the problem!
thanks for the info.
if a plane carrying 276 passengers crashes due to unknown mechanical causes it’s just a three or four day media event for all except those who lost someone dear.
if a plane carrying 276 passengers crashes due to ” terrorist activity” it’s a six months story with a congressional investigation thrown in.
Before anyone else forgets, let’s remember the context in which Bushie was pushing to bust the Brit plotters in late July and early August 2006.
That bust, you’ll remember, hit the US news media on the morning of Wednesday, the day after Joe Lieberman lost the Connecticut primary to Ned Lamont, despite Rove’s best eforts and his having shipped in busloads of College Rethuglicans to work the streets for Rape Gurney Joe. I remember it b/c I was off at a relatively remote fishing lodge run by an uber-wingnut who came barging in to breakfast after watching Fox and Friends on the satellite, standing in the middle of the dining room and telling us it was the end of the world. (Giving the impression of a tableaux vivant based on like this picture.) One of the diners told the guy to STFU b/c he came to remote places to get away from that shit and was not about to pay to listen to it. That outburst was how I knew Lamont had won and Lieberman had lost; it totally swamped the news of the election result – no doubt exactly what was desired.
So, in addition to the extended operational life of these latest AQ knuckleheads, we got 6 years more of Joe Lieberman shitting on us, all b/c of Deadeye Dick and Bushie.
Don’t understate their ability to fuck up by limiting it to just the terrists running around in Pakistan.
I know it wasn’t really funny, but I couldn’t help laughing at that story anyway, scribe…and great pic! Thanks.
“So, in addition to the extended operational life of these latest AQ knuckleheads, we got 6 years more of Joe Lieberman shitting on us, all b/c of Deadeye Dick and Bushie.”
Liarman still shitting on us. What were the folks in Conn thinking?
Cheney is a national security threat
While the Brits are keeping calm and carying on:
Material Support case against US Citizen Syed Fahad Hashmi goes to trial Wednesday “after close to three years of solitary confinement.”
Hashmi: Finally, a Trial!; William Fisher, 4/26/2010
Oh yeah…he was arrested while attempting to board a flight from London to Pakistan in 2006.
Not to go OT:
EW, Kassandra just posted this link on Morning Swim. Have you read about this?
Indefinite detention for US citizens without trial?
This ugliness has gone too far. BTW, I can only relate it to this post due to Joe Lieb being a sponsor of the bill.
Yeah. It’d be good only for making McCain and Lieberman out to be the nuts they are. I don’t think this has any chance of passing. Probably means for McCain to out-fear his primary opponent.
That proposal ought to be on the front page of every newspaper in the country. It has the potential to be the last straw that downs McBush and his co-sponsors.
Boxturtle (Otoh, do I really want to trust that ObamaLLP would veto such a bill if passed?)
I share your view on that. Pretty much stated that at Morning Swim.
I think Obama would not veto…especially if best friend Lindsey Graham were to co-sponsor and/or push for it.
If they could figure out a way to use code words to assure folks that this law will only be applied to Scary Brown Moslems who (due to lax border security) happen to be American citizens and won’t be applied to Real Americans, it’d pass in a second.
Boxturtle (The Constitution has been approved…but the president issued a signing statement)
But, if the ‘O’ is already signing Shoot To Kill On Sight orders against US Citizens, ordering the detention of same is actually more civilized.
Why would he oppose it?
Boxturtle (I’m thinking, I’m thinking)
Only good? It would serve the “greater good” to make sure this “nuts” gets “awareness press” legs.
Back to the post… Great post. It is not surprising that when the “politics of fear” was starting to get citizen push back the “cowboy politics” were rolled out.
GB should take the US (Bush & Cheney) to task loudly.
box turtle @34
how ’bout we put a special sign on the good guys’ (that’s us) houses.
i know, i know, it’s an old idea, but hey it worked that time didn’t it.
alternative, hi tech, idea:
all the good guys’ (that’s us) get microchips implanted in their ears, just like my little cat.
added benefit: if the jsoc throat slashers (aka, special oops troops) screw up and kill one of us good guys, and they will,
the chip will let special oops know where to ship the carcass.
I got a better way. Everybody who thinks like we do is US. Everybody else is THEM. We use the government’s wiretapping database to identify THEM (which it supposedly is doing already) and simply arrest THEM. Anybody who isn’t carrying identification is deported to Mexico at once.
If we make a mistake, they can only go to the US ambassador…and then it’s Dept of State’s problem!
Boxturtle (There’s still a lot of support for bothering Hillary at ObamnaLLP)
box turtle @38
now you’re cookin’.
but, bt, what if THEY aren’t mexicans?
THEY’re all mexicans to US,
as in, “go down to the fillin’ station and pick up a couple of mexicans to take this roof off”.
“mexican” being a generic term where i live for anyone from south of the rio grande to tierra del fuego.
Either form is quite acceptable.
Thanks for the post. Interesting but unsurprising.
Really doesn’t all just come down to one thing, and one thing only: MONEY. As in: getting it in any way possible.
Cheney is a criminal robbing everyone everywhere in whatever way possible… well, just like all of our politicians anymore. But his the truly ugly face of our present-day reality.
Muslims and Islam have just been turned into this century’s black-hatted boogeyman, whom we must all fear and hate and revile, while paying off dickheads like Cheney for “keeping us safe.” What a joke. Since the fall of the Soviet empire, the Republics (and Democrats more recently) have been scurrying to find a convenient enemy to justify their greed, venality and crimes against humanity.
And that about sums it up for me. The rest, really, is just window-dressing. All of it happens for a reason, and that reason is: enriching the coffers of Biggus Dickus. The end.
Sounds like Yosemite was pleasant. The Tioga Pass Road is rarely open before Memorial Day… too many chances of avalanches up there, esp with all the late Spring snow we’ve been getting. I was off hiking out of Tucson last weekend…. just in time to be racially profiled by the AZ PD… we did get stopped several times on our way out of the state. Bc we’re a couple of old white folks, all that happened was that we were asked: Are you a US citizen? So stupid on so many levels that it’s hard to even think about it. AZ is a beautiful state, but not sure about returning there any time soon. What a bunch of crap.
First, who knows if Suskind’s version of the meeting is accurate. Even a few words changed would make a large difference.
And, Blair was very patient the year before and the subway riders paid the price.
Aside from all that, Yosemite is my favorite place in the world. Spectacular in every way, large and small. Hiking there is heaven.
Whoops– my poor manners.
Welcome back, EW! I hope the Asian Carp didn’t spoil your fishing!
Bob in AZ
I think the indigenous peoples must have aggregated in the valley to pause and breathe, to recall the transparency of fixed mind sets, that ideas easily vanish in a truly beautiful setting, outdoors. Yosemite has a kind of internal impact, for me. However, I was slightly disappointed at its modernizations at last visit. The rangers used to let people select their own camping places. A friend once told me a lasting memory was how close the bears seemed to get. Then again, the distance to the surrounding mountaintops seems far. Sometimes I wonder what a conservationist Republican would look like in this era; likely it is a person who is in congress passing a law to drill horizontally under the parks looking for extractable, remunerative **natural resources**.
The recent PBS series on the National Parks devoted almost a whole program to Yosemite. The Yosemite parts are gathered online here. It documents how popular it became, to the point of strangulation. Which led to regulation of traffic, parking, etc. to keep the park from becoming smothered by public attention.
Bob in AZ
As a nine year old, there were only a few of us to brave the icemelt temperature of the Merced River. I explained to the adults, **You just get numb, and then you can swim for an hour or longer.** Keeping the outdoors together is a lot of work. It is on the place I live.
I think Bush will prepare for any tour to tout the book, and limit access to the events, like his 2005 gambit to invest socialsecurity*s treasury in the stock market. Lucky people blocked Bushco then. Yet, I expect some neoGingrichian agenda searching for strippable budgets, as the policy designers fashion the autumn by-election campaign hype.
Bush will soon be on a major book tour to sell his book, I wonder if anyone will have the guts to ask him about this deal ? I would love to see someone like Maddow or emptywheel, someone up on the details, ask him about this just to watch the look on his face.
O/T sort of.
Blackwater trained our [Canadian] troops
Defence spent more than $6M at controversial U.S. security firm
Welcome back BlogMommy … waddya get us ?!!
I hope you were able to catch Senator Levin today … he’s on fire !
Yeah, he sure did use the “sh***y” word a lot, when talking about certain Goldman-Sachs investment vehicles.
Bob in AZ
My statement on this is going to be short simple and to the point.
Yes, mistakes were made. Yes, we probably did step on the toes of legitimate investigation.
However, it was the policies of Bush that have prevented a terrorist attack from happening on American soil, which incidentally the frequency of such attempts have gone up since Obama took office. Guess he didn’t say sorry enough times.
As for the torture issue, wasn’t there this whole big controversy about Pelosi not attending the briefing to the committee she chaired about this and then ignorantly casting her vote?? Bush had no effect on her incompetency that allowed Enhanced Interrogation Techniques to be used. To simply blame Bush and Cheney for them is a superficial examination of the issue and one taken directly from DNC talking points. Do EIT work? Probably not, however, there is evidence that some quality intelligence has been gleaned from it. But on the whole I think that if you put a person under enough duress they will tell you pretty much anything you want to hear, which is why they should, and probably were, used on select cases only.
Boy did you land on the wrong square on the Monopoly board to be bringing that bunk.
Oh, barf. Puh-lease! Prevented terrorist attacks… except for that little thing with two of the World Trade Center towers, and the Anthrax letters.
You’ve drunk too much kool-aid.
Bob in AZ
Sounds like there may be some spirits of some kind in the kool aid too.
Where the HeQQ is Freep, we’ve had an infestation of Tribbles today …
And the Bush/Cheney/ Hadley/Wolfowitz/Feith regime completely ignored counter terrorism expert Richard Clarke’s warnings.
Yehright. Put me under enough duress and I’ll tell you I’m Audrey Hepburn.
Waterproof Sox and the Material Support of a Terrorist Organization.
4 years of being held, finally a trial – but Hashmi isn’t allowed to see the evidence. But really – can anyone deny that sending out waterproof sox is on its face a criminal act? Sure sure sure – no one can crawl out on a limb and say that torturing someone to death at the Salt Pit has the kind of “criminal” mindset that might give rise to any kind of charges, but sending sox – at least Prosecutors can get their heads around that.
After all, it’s not like waterboarding someone 180 or so times has the elements of “strategic overinclusiveness” they hold so near and dear.
Yeah, the woman who pines to be our next Supreme Justice (in spite of never having set foot in a trial courtroom in her life) is real big on that “strategic overinclusiveness”. Jeebus, I thought I was cynical and jaded, but that one sets even me back in my chair.
Dick Cheney is not in jail. Realiy I need not say more.
I will though. The fact that all these guys not only got away with what they did, but are still out there to cause more trouble, shows how rediculous this Country has become.
A Country without Law, and accountability isn’t worth shit.