Timing and the Sheikh al-Libi Death

Since Andy Worthington reported on Sheikh al-Libi’s death over the weekend, a few more details on timing have come out.

Ibn Sheikh al-Libi Died in the Last Two Weeks

The first important point is that al-Libi died sometime after April 27, when a Human Rights Watch researcher spoke with him in a Libyan jail.

Human Right Watch researcher Heba Morayef told Reuters in London that she saw Fakhiri on April 27 during a visit to the Libyan capital’s main Abu Salim jail.

She said Fakhiri appeared for just two minutes in a prison courtyard. He look well, but was unwilling to speak to the Rights Watch team, she said. "Where were you when I was being tortured in American prisons?" she quoted him as saying.

This makes his death all the more suspicious, as it occurs after it has become clear there will be an inquiry of some sort here in the US (to say nothing of international prosecutions). The SSCI, remember, is conducting detainee by detainee reviews of treatment, and al-Libi is close to the top of the list in terms of seniority and brutality of treatment. Any reconsideration of Moussaoui’s sentencing given the treatment of evidence in his case may well point to al-Libi. Likewise, any contempt proceedings out of the ACLU case my bring attention to al-Libi’s treatment.

Most importantly, think of the people who would have an interest in having al-Libi–recently discovered by Human Rights Watch–silenced. If al-Libi had an opportunity to testify about how he fabricated the reports of al Qaeda ties to Iraq, it would focus intense attention on Dick Cheney’s lies to get us into war. And Egypt can ill afford to have the extent of their cooperation with the US on these matters exposed.

So there are a lot of reasons why al-Libi’s recent death is all the more suspicious.

Ibn Sheikh al-Libi Was Turned Over to Libya in 2006

Then there’s the detail that al-Libi was rendered to Libya in 2006 (which had been reported by the WaPo in 2007). Obviously, that would mean the US gave up custody of al-Libi before it moved the remaining High Value Detainees to Gitmo and ultimately made them available to the Red Cross. But it also means al-Libi’s return to Libya happened in the same year that the US restored relations with Libya, and Stephen Kappes–who had played a key role in restoring relations–returned to the CIA, both in May 2006. While the treatment of Maher Arar shows we don’t need great relations with a state (in his case, Syria) to render someone into their custody, al-Libi’s rendition was likely a more sensitive subject (particularly given his role at the nexus of torture and false intelligence to trump up the Iraq War.

Particularly given the suspicious timing of al-Libi’s death, it raises questions about what our understanding with Qadaffi was when we gave him custody over al-Libi.

115 replies
  1. perris says:

    I bring up this matter downstairs, mcclatchy is on it too;

    WASHINGTON — The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

    yet both the cia AND the fbt KNEW there was NO link, EVERYONE knew there was no link

    this HAD to be called down from the top SINCE everyone in BOTH of these agencies knew with no doubt THERE WAS NO LINK

    that’s the elephant in the room, these agencies were tasked with gathering information the agencies themselves knew did not exist, this is the ONLY reason you have policies of torture, to gather FALSE information

    the mcckatchy article goes on;

    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.

    they were informed in no uncertain terms there was no link, cheney instituted his house of pain for one reasn, to create information he knew was false

    he’s famous for doing just that, he and rumsfeld created false data to undermine nixon’s detante, he and rumsfeld renew their shaddow government under reagan/ford and now as vice president

    not likely al-libi’s death is a “coincidence”

  2. bmaz says:

    And Egypt can ill afford to have the extent of their cooperation with the US on these matters exposed.

    Yeah, there are a lot of entities and people that would be pretty happy with al-Libi’s death, including quite possibly his last wardens, the Libyans. Sure would like to see an investigation be immediate and thorough before stories get established and accepted.

    • katiejacob says:

      Forgive my naivete but this event sort of brings everything that has happened over over all of these years to a head. This is not something that happened “before” or a long time ago. This happened now. Someone had the authority to make this happen. Who is calling the shots now and if they are not still in power, how do they have the power to do so? An investigation now could reveal a lot about this.

  3. JimWhite says:

    Is it known whether al-Libi was waterboarded? I presume it would have been while rendered to Egypt or elsewhere. I’m chasing down whether his tuberculosis could have been caused by waterboarding. It turns out that many mycobacteria similar to the usual TB agent are present in many water sources but normally would not be present in lungs in appreciable quantities.

    • robspierre says:

      I’m not an MD. But TB is pretty pervasive in much of the world, so I don’t know if “cause” would be the best word.

      On the other hand, traumatic ingestion of water wouldn’t have be good for an existing TB case. I imagine that it could cause aspiration pneumonia, for one thing. This can be a purely mechanical/inflammatory injury or an opportunistic infection (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspiration_pneumonia).

  4. wavpeac says:

    Here’s the thing. These perps are good, very good at what they do. There is a parallel process going on in America…we are getting distracted from the truths that these perpetrators are dealing us…and it works unless we “see it” for what it is.

    Minimize, deny and blame.

    It wasn’t that big a deal, we didn’t hurt them that bad. We didn’t torture very much and we didn’t torture very “hard”.

    We didn’t do it. We don’t torture.

    We did it because they did it first. We did it because others’ do it. We did and you would have too. We did it and we had a good reason to do it. They deserved it.

    This is the exact mantra that comes out of the mouths of batterers everywhere. Perpetrators every where. We have to see it for what it is. To not see it, is to collude. But understand that all humans are susceptible to this pathological behavior. The reasons perps do it, is because it works. We can blame each other all over the place for why it works…we will have plenty of time for that later but what I see in these memo’s is truly criminal pathology. This should be scaring the crap out of people.

    This is really very similar to what takes place in a violent home. Only the home is our country. Hold the abusers at the top accountable.

  5. allan says:

    From the WaPo comments:

    accentmark wrote:
    Oh my, they are finally closing in on plame aren’t they? Of course, WAPO will ignore the next watergate because it does not fit TEH narrative.
    5/12/2009 4:54:09 AM

  6. Badwater says:

    The Decider didn’t know this stuff was going on because he was on a bike ride at the time.

  7. TheraP says:

    al-libi “looked well.” He had enough psychic energy to be irritated and to reject an interview. He stated he was tortured. He accused her/us of failing to be there for him.

    This does not sound like a man bent on self-destruction.

    He asserted what “control” he had – which was to refuse to be the “object” of inquiry one more time. Yet he pointed to why: he named it torture. And he named his enemy – anyone who did not help him (which would of course include the torturers).

    He does not sound compliant.

    We can view this as positive from our perspective. He seemed to have pride, to be sane, to be angry. Had he lived he might have made a powerful witness.

    Thus he had to die.

    That’s my psychological reading of that brief encounter, gathered 3rd hand. And my supposition of why he suddenly was reported as dead by his own hand.

    The bush torture program: Still creating animosity toward the US.

    • WarOnWarOff says:

      And my supposition of why he suddenly was reported as dead by his own hand.

      Shot himself in the face, I’ll bet.

    • wavpeac says:

      I thought the same thing…he sure sounds to have had some “get” left in his “go”. He was lashing out, and distrustful which made sense. He was not “cracked”. Which made him dangerous.

      Cheney is going to get more dangerous as the tip point gets closer.

      • eCAHNomics says:

        Cheney is going to get more dangerous as the tip point gets closer.

        Interesting to think he would go so far as to order a “hit” at this late date.

        • Dismayed says:

          It doesnt’ suprise me at all. Cheney likely has “more people” in the CIA than Obama. Loyalist who are coordinating with him to cover their own asses. Republicans are opposing EVERY appointment, to slow the new administration getting a full hold of the reins of power. Cheney may still be the most powerful man in Washington, and is a singularly frightening individual.

          I don’t see much real progress being made so long as dirty dick remains on the field of play. He has power a Sith Lord could only dream of.

    • cinnamonape says:

      It also sounds that his treatment, at least at that time, may have been superior to that he received in American prisons. The statement sounds like he is suggesting that the concern for his well-being should have been focussed before. I was thinking initially that he may have been expressing disgust at an American-based group suddenly showing humanitarian interest, but HRW isn’t US-based. Still al-Libi may not realize that.

      It seems that al-Libi was obtaining some exercise, and wasn’t in extreme isolation at the Libyan prison.

      But all the other factors might indicate that conditions changed after that HRW visit.

      • TheraP says:

        Good points.

        Being outdoors in the sunshine is not as dangerous for TB transmission. I believe sunlight either kills it or makes transmission less likely. Plus you have the fresh air. Think how long ago treatment had people go to the mountains and lie all day in the sun (in Europe).

        @82: I agree we don’t need to be spending time on TB.

  8. RevBev says:

    EW, Im off to work, I guess. And all I can say for now is that I do not know how you do it…day after day. I am beyond sick and can only read so much at a time. We have known for a long time that these people were cruel and liars and worse. The pervasiveness and what all this says about our country is too much for an old woman’s heart and soul. And to know there are plenty more who think all this stuff was just fine, eg. laughing Waterboard Sean or Laura….Yep, support torture and say so out loud. God help us.

  9. Mormaer says:

    The tipping point is coming. I believe that they tortured people to death and that is why Cheney is acting crazier and crazier. They will try to spin that it was an accident, the “interogators” were not properly trained, or that it happened in another country thus not their fault. It will be hard to claim that they had to kill people to get information from them and it was not really torture.

    • Petrocelli says:

      I think their gameplan all along was to highlight all that they have done and point everything back to Executive Privilege, which many senior Dems are unwilling to touch.

      Unfortunately, every criminal makes one serious blunder and these guys vastly underestimated the anger of the American people when all of this is revealed.

      When is that “final” report that Whitehouse talked about, being released. Did I miss it ?

  10. WarOnWarOff says:

    I’m so old I can remember when Khaddafi was the World’s Worst Terrrrrrorist. Guess he’s done rehabilatated hisself.

    • fatster says:

      Do you remember the time the bombs got so close that his infant adopted daughter was killed where she slept out there in a desert in the family tent or something? Seems to me that may have been a pivotal moment for him.

      Interesting article here (which destroys my little hypothesis):


    • Stephen says:

      Ordering hits has its consequences. Can you imagine the leverage Libya would have if they orchestrated the hit just right. I even think the leverage could be applied on Obama. A spiders web is the obvious outcome.

  11. Muzzy says:

    “Where were you when I was being tortured in American prisons?” she quoted him as saying.

    To me, that quote from al-Libi sounds more like a reference to what was attempted to be tortured out of him than the who or where of his experience.

  12. CalGeorge says:

    Dick Cheney, tying up loose ends.

    Why was Cheney so defiant on Meet the Press on Sunday?

    Another possible witness against him had been eliminated.

  13. Palli says:

    perhaps the hit was a standing order; who wouldn’t suspect such orders have been placed on many others as well-
    Cheney knows he is fighting for his life; he laid careful conspiratorial plans to continue conducting government even after he is out of office

    • Rayne says:

      Yes. This case bothers me immensely.

      This may not only have been a hit to obstruct access to a witness, but a threat.

      If these people can reach out across an ocean and exercise such power even out of office, we can only imagine what they are capable of when they are really backed into a corner.

      Boggles my mind that critics of the administration on the left side of the fence are not cognizant of the threats and the challenges of threat minimization in order to achieve the right outcome.

      One more important example of the need for bloggers and their supporters to do the heavy lifting, hard and fast, in order to provide cover.

      • lysias says:

        Two days before Obama voted in the Senate for the FISA “compromise” was when he had that equipment malfunction that forced his campaign plane to make an emergency landing in St. Louis.

        He had already announced his support of the “compromise” the previous week, but maybe somebody wanted to make sure he stayed on board.

  14. klynn says:

    Particularly given the suspicious timing of al-Libi’s death, it raises questions about what our understanding with Qadaffi was when we gave him custody over al-Libi.

    It also puts an interesting perspective on “that” Bush reunion in Texas about a week before the Human Rights Watch visit. Did someone from the prison notify Bushies HRW was coming? Thus, a reunion?

    And an off the wall question. Is it possible Yuval Levin gave the President advice via Yoo irt the “health-medical” descriptions on torture?

    He was a guest at the reunion.

    Before joining EPPC, Mr. Levin served on the White House domestic policy staff under President George W. Bush. His work focused on health issues (including public health and safety, food and drug regulatory issues, biomedical research and science, veterans’ health, and HIV/AIDS) as well as bioethics and culture-of-life issues.

    I know all crazy thoughts and tin foil-like.

    • TheraP says:

      I don’t think it’s crazy at all to track when these folks get together. For example, many folks were in DC (ostensibly) for that AIPAC meeting, including Rice (right after her disastrous video!) And many came to DC this past weekend. These folks have to meet in person now. They know that it’s possible they can be spied on. After all they set up the spy system! They have to have ostensible reasons to be meeting. I’m watching this like a chess game. Moves are plays. Even if we have no idea who meets who or what they’re saying. We’ve seen some surface. We’ve read the op-eds, seen the tv propaganda. Death stalks. These folks, in my view, are nervous. They are traveling. I’m sure they have their stooges reading here.

      • jackie says:

        There was a bit in one of last weeks papers that AIPAC had ‘100’s of lobbyists’ on the ground during ‘Praise Israeli Policy Week’ and I bet lots of interesting conversations went on..

        ‘The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) this week sent hundreds of lobbyists to urge members of Congress to sign a letter to Obama.

        The letter, written by two House of Representatives leaders, calls for Israel to be allowed to set the pace of negotiations.

        The lobbying came despite critics saying Netanyahu has consistently failed to commit himself to the creation of a Palestinian state.

        The letter calls for the maintenance of the status quo, with an emphasis on Palestinian institution-building before there can be an end to Israeli occupation.

        It says the US “must be both a trusted mediator and devoted friend of Israel”.

        Aipac’s move to put pressure on members of Congress came at the end of its annual conference in Washington this week.

        Some of the loudest applause at the gathering came in response to calls for military attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities – something Netanyahu has attempted to portray as a more urgent issue than the Palestinian question.’

        • Nell says:

          AIPAC has a Monday lobby day at the end of its conference — like many other organizations. Theirs is bigger, annual, highly organized, and gets a better reception than most, but is nothing unusual or sinister. Those are citizen lobbyists.

          • jackie says:

            That response was to Thera at #25, who was wondering who may have been possibly talking to who, during what happened to be AIPAC week.
            I responded with ‘with such a ‘lot’ of aipac supportes lobbyists/friends in town i imagine lots of folks got talked to/with.’

            I didn’t say anything regarding anything else.

    • klynn says:

      That will be great for the subscription rate for the Philly Daily News. Many will jump ship from the Enquirer to the Daily News after learning that tidbit.

    • jayt says:

      Philadelphia Enquirer hires Yoo as columnist.

      holy bug fuck. Maybe they can start a point-counterpoint by also hiring Abu – except that no one has ever seen any discernible evidence that Gonzales can write….

      • tjbs says:

        The treasonous yoo is in Sunday’s edition followed Thursday by Little ricky Santorium . Great, just great.

        • BoxTurtle says:

          I guess I don’t have a problem with Yoo working as a columnist. His ideas will certainly prompt discussion and that’s the point of the job.

          As long as he’s not pretending to be a lawyer.

          Boxturtle (It’ll give him maybe enough experience to qualify for the prison paper rather than the laundry)

      • cinnamonape says:

        Great…wonder what the readership will be when they find out that Yoo approved using insects like caterpillars and “de-stinged” scorpions on prisoners placed in confinement boxes. And then a month later the sons of Khalid Sheik Mohammed (age 7 and 9 years) were covered with…stingless insects!

    • TheraP says:

      Yoo has a PA law license. The coming DoJ OPR Report reportedly calls for Yoo’s disbarment. Could he be hoping to influence public opinion in PA related to a potential disbarment proceeding?

      • cinnamonape says:

        Yoo’s parents are Psychologists in Pennsylvania, where he grew up. Maybe he’s decided to live at home?

    • klynn says:

      readeroftealeaves and I have been doing that in snippets. But we are also including the Ghorbanifar timeline too (which is really the run up to the war as well).

        • klynn says:

          He is an expat Iranian in arms trade and espionage and was tied to the “Rome” meetings and the Niger docs.

      • fatster says:

        Neat! Did you two post it anywhere? Perhaps some of the rest of us could submit possible additions (documented, of course) for your consideration.

          • fatster says:

            I was trying to be helpful, and not trying to create any additional effort for you. If you think I could be of help, just let me know. Among my few talents is the ability to google. Heh heh.

            • maryo2 says:

              klynn, Do you use multi-dimensional tables? Do you have a software product that assists you? If not, does anyone have a good product to recommend?

      • Cheryl says:

        Are you using the Phase 2 A & B documents? I noticed in the Phase 2 B that Ghorbanifar, Rhode, Frnaklin, and Ledeen took a trip to Rome and one of the people that proposed the trip was William Luti (I think he’s with Northrup Grummen now). Many of these fellows are from the Office of Special Plans. I really liked the article that Robert Dreyfuss and Jason Vest wrote in Mother Jones February 2004 — it has a great flow chart that gives a very clear picture of the intelligence chain right up to Cheney.

        As for Ghorbanifar, the Phase 2 B document reports that the CIA found Ghorbanifar unreliable as far back as 1984 when he was involved in the Iran Contra scandal. Apparently, he was a middleman in the weapons exchange. I’ve always thought that if you look at the Iran Contra scandal many of the same individuals are responsible for the Iraq war. I also think you’ll find the responsible party for the forged Niger yellow cake uranium docs there as well. I certinaly can’t follow it all which is problably what they are counting on. That’s why I like coming here for EW’s great analysis.

        • klynn says:

          We’ve been merging EW’s timelines with some “added” content on certain dates. rOTL (readerOfTeaLeaves) has posted more merged timeline snippets than I have. We started back at the post on the Bybee invite.

          I recently copied EW’s timelines and merged them into an Excell chart. They are color coded. I was thinking of sending this to Marcy.

  15. BoxTurtle says:

    Actually, Dick is not my primary suspect here. Neither Egypt nor Libya would care one way or the other if Dick were embarassed.

    Both would care a LOT if their roles assisting Israels Patron to bomb Sunni Iraq were to be exposed to their citizens.

    But Libya wouldn’t care a bit if Egypt’s role was exposed. They don’t like Egypt. And they wouldn’t be likely to do Egypt a favor, unless it benefited Libya.

    I suspect that this was Libya all the way. And I suspect that Al Libi committed suicide by shooting himsself in the face…after cleverly tying his own hands behind his back.

    Boxturtle (Am I crazy because I’d be more likely to trust what Libya says than what Cheneys says?)

    • JohnJ says:

      And I suspect that Al Libi committed suicide by shooting himself in the faceback of the head 3 times…after cleverly tying his own hands behind his back.

      There fixed it.

      Gotta run to work.

  16. skdadl says:

    Andy Worthington quotes a Libyan friend who quotes “a reliable source” who reports that al-Libi’s body was returned to his brother.

    Who knows, and maybe it is too late now to investigate, but if that story is true (again: who knows?), the body should have told a story, maybe still could.

    • Andy Worthington says:

      Hi there,
      Andy Worthington here. I’m waiting to find out more information about al-Libi’s body from my source.
      Would also be interested to know what readers think (also mentioned in my latest article) about CIA rendering non-al-Qaeda prisoners back to Libya.
      Non-al-Qaeda means opposed to Gaddafi, and just a few years ago the enemy of my enemy was my friend. And yet some of the anti-Gaddafi “terrorists” are still in Guantanamo, and others are under house arrest in the UK.

      • phred says:

        Hi Andy, good to see you here. Thanks for your articles on al-Libi. I look forward to hearing more as you learn it. I don’t have any idea about what the deal was between BushCo and Libya, but I ran across this article from CNN that came out a week after relations were normalized between the US and Libya in May 2006. I suspect there were a myriad of complex quid pro quo arrangements in whatever deal was struck (e.g., we’ll help you with your terrorist problem, if you help us with ours) greased by oil deals, and of course flattering Qaddafi by welcoming him back into the “sane” fold of world leaders (now that it was no longer convenient to keep referring to him as a madman).

      • Rayne says:

        I think the case of Anas al-Liby may hold a number of answers related to the transfer of “non-al Qaeda” detainees; which of those being held might have been Western agents at some point? which may have been deployed against Qaddafi in the past, but now might be used as bargaining chips with Libya?

      • Mary says:

        I think the non-al-Qaeda extraordinary renditions are an important part of the story and one that should have some focus brought – thank you for including that aspect in your article.

      • Rayne says:

        Re-assessing the “non-al Qaeda” detainees question: how many may be Saudi operatives or assets?

        Could explain why some continue to be shuffled and ghosted…

  17. phred says:

    EW, have you seen any reporting that indicates whether or not al-Libi had an opportunity over the last 3 years to speak to anyone (friends, family, lawyers) while in detention? I wonder if he had an opportunity to tell his story to someone or whether he was held incommunicado all this time. Even if that was the case, I hope someone interviews the Libyan prison guards to see if al-Libi talked to them about what had happened to him.

  18. cbl2 says:

    Emptywheel –


    are you aware of this ?

    Six General Motors Corp. executives recently sold more than 200,000 shares of the automaker as GM moves toward issuing new equity to give large stakes to the U.S. government and a United Auto Workers retiree health care trust fund.


    via Moon of Alabama

  19. DrNurse says:

    I wonder what the relationship is, if any, of al-Libi’s imprisonment and treatment and that of the Tripoli Six. That is also the rough window when Rice in concert with Commerce, was ramping up recognition of Libya and welcoming it as a foe of terrorism even as the medical workers were facing the death penalty on phony charges of intentionally infecting patients (mostly children) with AIDS by using contaminated needles and were themselves tortured via rape and sleep deprivation/solitary confinement.

  20. tjbs says:

    If bush lied about torture he’s lied through his ass about 911.
    Think back to his eyes when he looked straight at us and said we don’ torture or how he reacted when learning we were attacked.
    There was no soul behind those eyes.

    EW take care this is consuming and very heavy lifting.
    Otherwise you be kicking ass.

  21. fatster says:

    It was Gonzo!

    FBI Whistleblower Testimony: Gonzales Imposed Brutal Interrogation Tactics
    Ali Soufan Also To Testify CIA Torture Program Architect Was Unqualified

    May 12, 2009

    “As President Bush’s top lawyer, Alberto Gonzales pressed counterterror officials to use brutal interrogation techniques on terror suspect Abu Zubaydah in 2002, even when those techniques hindered Zubaydah’s cooperation, a former FBI agent who was present is expected to testify Wednesday before Congress.”


  22. patg says:

    cheney is in this up to his drooping ears…if an enterprising journalist wanted to dig into this, lots of money could be made. of course he or she could also do suicide ala allende (shoot yourself 76 times)…

  23. Loo Hoo. says:

    Worse than the freaking Mafia. I wonder how people who voted for these criminals feel now.

  24. JimWhite says:

    It turns out Brian Ross was saying in 2005 that a dozen al Qaeda figures had “enhanced interrogations” and that al-Libi was waterboarded. He continued saying al-Libi was waterboarded in 2007, when he went down to the story that only three were waterboarded. A few months later, Hayden testified in February, 2008, and changed al-Libi to al-Nashiri.

    I wonder if al-Libi’s “tuberculosis” was a persistent lung infection resulting from waterboarding?

    See my Oxdown for the links.

    • Petrocelli says:

      Hi Jim, good connection between possible waterboarding and TB. I haven’t said it in a while, many thanks to you, Valtin/Jeff Kaye, drational and of course, Marcy & bmaz.

      The Blogs have exposed what the MSM have worked really hard to paper over. When that final report is published, this thing is going to take on a life of its own. The Blogs have to ensure that that ‘life’ leads to indictments and convictions.

      Brief periods of awakening by Tweety, Frank Rich et al are inadequate at best.

      • JimWhite says:

        Thanks, Petro. I find Ross’s evolving story to be very interesting. He’s widely seen as a CIA mouthpiece, so watching his story change over time will probably yield us several more interesting nuggets about how the CIA wanted to change the spin.

    • Rayne says:

      While we can’t discount the chance that TB infection could have resulted from waterboarding, as Americans we are pretty uneducated about the rate of TB in other countries.

      Europe and Eurasia combined have a rate of TB which is five times greater than the U.S., suggesting more opportunities for infection without the addition of waterboarding as a factor.

      Further, while it may be said that al-Libi suffered from TB, there is no apparent indication from HRW that he was coughing (if he was, we could reasonably believe it was untreated or that he did not have a latent caselike 90% of all cases) or suffering from other obvious symptoms. People can carry latent cases for years and years.

      There’s also no suggestion so far that TB was the cause of death. It would be nice if the family permitted an autopsy, but it could be culturally challenging.

  25. alank says:

    It’s interesting that Osama bin Laden has, according to press coverage, urged Iraqi Sunnis to attack Iraqi Shia. It seems counter-intuitive for a fundamentalist Islamic leader to forward such a cause, but it’s consistent with the Washington claim of a connection between the two groups. The fact that the Washington government installed a Shia government in Iraq was a logical choice given their thesis that the two minor groups were linked.

    We can postulate that bin Laden has been an instrument of the Washington government to further a wider cause, viz., the control of former republics of the USSR. Only someone of such ilk as Cheney and Rumsfeld would feel so compelled to pursue such a grandiose goal, suffering as they do from delusions of grandeur and Napoleon Complex — that is to say, as a result of being under-medicated. It is a sound postulate, to be sure. There are many resources in the region of keen interest to the west.

  26. Mary says:

    al-Libi has been the lynchpin in the case against the torturers. Not only does he counter, devastatingly, the theme that you get good intel and save American lives with torture but his case also makes it very clear that there was no “good faith” or “necessity” or “ticking time bomb” basis for the torture, but instead a decision to use 911 as a vehicle to gather up torture/coerced/manufactured intel to go to war with Iraq.

    He has always been the (with a capitol T) response to the torturers and one that Americans find easy to understand and one that makes even the most rabid apologists back off. They want to talk about waterboarding KSM – they don’t want to talk about al-Libi, el-Masri, Arar or KSM’s children. Unfortunately, the public/media discussion tends to dwell on the battleground the torturer have chosen and they are almost never pushed to have to stand their ground on less favorable footings.

    From a different source, the Telegraph, the British Reprieve (which represents many GITMO detainees) offers up a little more about al-Libi. It seems that HRW wasn’t the only org that has had recent contact with al-Libi and the org that has had contact with him hasn’t been shy about highlighting embarassing and criminal information involving the Bush admin:

    He had been visited recently by a team from Human Rights Watch at the Fakheri in jail in Libya, and had been in contact with the legal charity Reprieve.
    Clive Stafford Smith from Reprieve, said: “We are told that al Libi committed suicide in his Libyan prison. If this is true it would be because of his torture and abuse, if false, it may reflect a desire to silence one of the greatest embarrassments of the Bush Administration.
    “Reprieve has been exploring tentative contacts with al Libi, and his death may have been a result of the pressure to allow him to speak openly about his torture.”

    emph added

    Having a Reprieve lawyer like Stafford Smith start representing him and raising the profile might have made Cheney and the CIA torturers less than comfy. Add in a UK court being petitioned about things like the sharing of Egyptian torture info from al-Libi between the US and the UK in that kind of scenario and the fidgets turn to squirms.

    What has always baffled me about al-Libi, though, is that Congress has done almost nothing about him, despite wide reporting for years of his torture as the basis for the Powell fibs to the UN and world. How could any committee even pretend to have had a real investigation into the false intel and its uses for a run up to the war without getting some kind of access to al-Libi.

    Another issue, arguments re: torture aside, is how the hell there was any legal basis for sending al-Libi to Egypt to start with. One of the things I’ve brought up on all kinds of these cases is no one in Congress has really pushed on the issues of assurances we received from foreign countries, who got them or did not, how our domestic laws and procedures were followed or not in those turnovers, and, with respect to several (like al-Libi and Binyam Mohamed) who had no connection with the country they were renered to for torture, how the hell anyone thought that was legal.

    • DWBartoo says:

      “…Congress has done almost nothing …”

      Ah, the universal, almost timeless, applicability of that statement.

      [Also bearing in mind the ‘thought’ (and likely ‘history’) raised by lysias @ 55]

      It appears not to matter ‘when’ any particular ‘one’ in Congress ‘knew’ something. They are all having to claim that they didn’t know anything.

      The next ’step’ will, likely, be appeals to stupid.

      But, at some point, when enough is ‘known’, generally, that it cannot be denied, Congress simply must begin to behave as if they do know something.

      Or care about something… besides themselves.

    • alank says:

      Congress seems incapable of oversight wrt Treasury down the road a short piece, much less a foreign government.

  27. lysias says:

    Congress’s reluctance to investigate extraordinary rendition may have to do with the fact that it originated in 1995, under Clinton (even if Mary Jo White’s legal blessing of the process apparently rested upon people being sent to their own countries). The Republicans certainly raised this matter in grilling Holder last week.

  28. Mary says:

    That’s a point I make pretty frequently and why it seemed like the Obama path was set when he put Clinton in at State. If he had planned on ever letting any kind of investigation go forward that would really expose the underbellies, he wouldn’t have done something so potentially crippling.

    • Rayne says:

      Or putting Clinton in at State could have been a great neutralizer, forcing a division between the spouses and obtaining a level of loyalty (fealty?) while ensuring that the current administration both obtained maximum utility from the Clinton mojo overseas.

      A unified field of interests against the Bush/Cheney monsters.

      • Mary says:

        No – it’s not a matter of a political wedge between Clintons; it is having as the head of your STATE DEPARTMENT (the department charged with human rights issues, treaty issues, international community issues, etc.) as the spouse of someone who ordered/allowed renditions to torture in violation of CAT. That pretty much cripples the credibiity of your own administration – and is separate and apart from the the political fallout of having someone with control of one of your major cabinet slots and with a lot of “Clintonites” seeded in the admin in gneral, getting pretty damn mad at you.

        Political infighting is something to deal with on a neutralize/not neutralize basis – but when you Sec of State in travelling the world keeps getting questions from foreign press about her husbands role in Extraordinary Rendition investigations pending and her personal knowledge of same — you cut off State’s ability to function credibly.

        • Rayne says:

          Sorry, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I think putting Clinton at State does accomplish some compartmentalization between spouses — and frankly, in history.

          Bill Clinton’s Presidential Directive 39 is wholly different than those we’ve seen so far from the Bush administration. Rendition was also infrequent.

          Under the Bush administration, rendition was not only frequent, but could reasonably be expected to result in torture — and all while abusing the relationships the U.S. has with other countries on which it might have relied for cooperation, by asking them to be co-conspirators in a standard operating policy of rendition and torture. Where rendition might have been something negotiated in advance and agreed upon by a few parties, it was now expected and demanded carte blanche by the U.S. over many European, African and Asian country borders.

          All the more reason to use the Clinton mojo; the understanding then was entirely different. We’re talking about an administration which struggled to pull the trigger on a number of occasions, constantly belittled for “wagging the dog”, versus an administration which overreached constantly unapologetically.

          Jeebus, I fucking hate being put in a position of defending either Clinton, but there’s a big damned difference between either of them and the neo-conservatives of the Bush administration even if the Clintons are Republican-lite. The rest of the world certainly understands this.

          • Mary says:

            I don’t know that we have to agree to disagree about compartmentalization of the spouses, since I’m not talking about that. ???????

            Clinton was involved with *ordinary* renditions, which, while I think they have issues, aren’t something that bothers me much. However, his admin also was involved with the much less discussed renditions to places like Egypt for torture. And they did it on nothing much more of a legal basis than Mary Jo White giving a thumbs up. The “Albanian Incident” where Clinton had five guys snatched from Albania and shipped to Egypt for torture and execution of some, was used by Zawahiri as propaganda in the embassy bombings – claiming that they were in retaliation for America’s role in those renditions to torture.

            So the issue in my mind isn’t about compartmentalization of spouses at all – it’s that if you have a real investigation of extraordinary renditions, you would be having an investigation that includes the Clinton renditions to torture and execution and which were not supported by even an OLC fig leaf and at the same time sending his wife around the world as, in effect, the US’s Human Rights figurehead. That destroys our Dept of State’s credibility and would leave H. Clinton in a position where that would be the constant topic of questioning for her.

            You might think that this is *smart domestic politics* and if that is the case, then I guess we do have to disagree. I don’t think it is smart to further destroy an already decimated and tarnished Dept of State and leave it unable to effectively function while we have such huge issues that need State input like AFghanistan, Pakistan, etc.

  29. lysias says:

    What’s the incidence of TB like in hot, dry countries like Libya, Egypt, and (I assume) Mauritania? (Which leaves Poland and waterboarding.)

    • Rayne says:

      It’s not climate which is a predictor of TB’s incidence as much as availability of health care and government proactivity in prevention of TB.

      The ancient Egyptians frequently suffered from TB and died of it.

      Here’s an excerpt from a recent study based on screenings of asylum seekers traveling through Heathrow Airport:

      The overall prevalence of active TB in political asylum seekers was 241 per 100 000. There were large variations in prevalences of TB between asylum seekers from different regions, with low rates from the Middle East and high rates from the Indian subcontinent and sub-Saharan Africa. The frequency of drug resistance was high; 22.6% of culture positive cases were isoniazid resistant, 7.5% were multidrug resistant (resistant to both isoniazid and rifampicin), and 4% of cases diagnosed with active disease had multidrug resistant TB.

      Emphasis mine. Note this refers to active TB, not latent.

      al-Libi could have had a latent case picked up prior to his rendition which flared into an active case under stress, too, but we don’t have adequate information to confirm this one way or another.

        • Rayne says:

          What’s sub-Saharan Africa?


          What’s the Indian sub-continent?

          Afghanistan and Pakistan?

          Personally I lean towards exposure in the Polish facility, but waterboarding wouldn’t be necessary, just being in a filthy site or around others who have active cases would be enough.

          • TheraP says:

            To give an example of how our govt mandates hospitals deal with a case of TB and how infectious it is: If someone has been in a hospital and is later discovered to have TB, everyone, I mean everyone, who’s been in that hospital, patient, staff, people who might have moved on, are contacted and told to get a TB test. All staff, even volunteers, are tested for TB yearly. Every hospital must have rooms with special ventilation so that a TB patient’s air is never mixed with other hospital air and is ventilated directly outdoors. It’s that dangerous. It’s that easily transmitted – via breathing air with TB droplets in it. Very special masks are worn by hospital workers who have contact with the patient. This is in the US. Picture poor countries. TB has some strains now that are resistant to most antibiotics. It is especially prevalent among people who are HIV positive (for obvious reasons). And prison populations in poor countries often have inmates with both TB and HIV.

            @77: Hepatitis is also endemic in many of these places. (a liver disease, highly contagious)

            • bmaz says:

              I fail to see the fixation on TB here. Seems somewhat of a tangential discussion to me. But, then again, I could be completely wrong.

      • cinnamonape says:

        TB can occur in even dry climates. But Libya, particularly along the coast, can be quite cold and wet at various times of the year (I’ve lived there).

        Cells in the “secret prisons” are frequently moist, with standing water and waste. Recall that prisoners reported that they frequently had to use a “can” to go to the bathroom. And they were frequently doused with buckets of cold water, or sprayed in the face to keep them awake.

        Prisoners in close confinement can easily act as vectors, and if prisoners are moved repeatedly between cells (one of the actions used in the EITs to discombobulate the detainees) their chances of encountering germs from another prisoner would increase. Insects, like cockroaches, can transmit bacteria. Poorly presented food; unwashed cells, bedding, clothing and bodies are all likely to be hospitable harbors for bacteria and other pathogens.

  30. drational says:

    Hate to break out the IAAD, but you don’t get TB from waterboarding.
    And it is also physiologically unlikely to get a chronic lung issue from near-drowning. Becuase we have multiple corroborating documentation that the CIA waterboarded only 3, if Al-Libi was waterboarded it would have been by a foreign Gov or agency working apart from the CIA. This latter possibility should be kept open, but we have no evidence.

    • JimWhite says:

      I’m not saying it would have to be conventional TB. I am saying that in waterboarding, especially as it appears to have been carried out, significant volumes of water could have been driven far into the lungs of the prisoners. I pointed to an abstract from the literature showing that opportunistic pathogens very similar to the TB bacterium are known to be widespread and even in water supplies. These normally would not be delivered so deeply into peoples’ lungs, so there usually wouldn’t be much concern about lung infections. We don’t have details on al-Libi’s medical care, so we know nothing about antibiotics that might have been tried, whether a lung culture was carried out or even if there were X-rays to assess lung damage that might have been considered to be TB without a full diagnosis.

  31. lysias says:

    Then why did Brian Ross keep reporting that Al Libi was waterboarded? Who do his sources tend to be?

  32. WilliamOckham says:

    Here are a few bits of information to keep in mind about al-Libi, Egypt, and torture.

    We know quite a bit about the way the Egyptian torturers work, based on the testimony of lots of victims. Their typical MO is apply mostly pyschological torment first. For example, with the guy that the CIA kidnapped in Italy (I forget his name and don’t have time to look it up), they made very credible threats against his son to break him. Then, after they get want they want out of the victim, they apply brutal physical torture. I won’t even speculate why they do it this way.

    I doubt that al-Libi was in very good shape when the CIA got him back. Furthermore, the Egyptian torturers are known to leave scars and other evidence of the physical torture, probably because they want people to know what happens to their enemies. When the details of this story come out (and I actually think that his death makes that more likely), it will not be a pretty picture.

    • Mary says:

      [The guy kidnapped in Italy is usually called Abu Omar – which I guess is what you call a boatload of guys whose oldest son is named Omar?? – but wiki-name is Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr]

      I also wonder how the “success” that the Egyptians had with the live burial approach and getting the Iraq tie info was communicated back and forth, who knew about that kind of torture being used, if it was communicated to the interrogators who had Zubaydah and if it led to the incident reported in Vanity Fair’s Rohrsach and Awe about the building of a live burial box, which is now being reported in the Newsweek article on Soufan to be what triggered his outburst that he was going to arrest people.

      If you link in the interrogators with Egyptian torturers and torture that was being used to get false intel to gin up a war in Iraq, and you have old transports to Egypt from the US where there was reported torture and now maybe some communications trails proving that the US knew about live burial and other tactics vis a vis Egypt’s handling of those they handed over, it opens up illegality on a lot of fronts.

      Meanwhile – just what happened to al-Deen after we sent him to Syria and how about some details on the al-Faruq torture that conveniently yielded the “info” about things like Zubaydah’s status that would make him “fit” into the OLC AUg 2002 opininion “requirements” for torture.

  33. Mary says:

    I know I brought it up, but in addition to the TB issue that we can’t do much about other than have some interesting spec, this story that fatster linked in an earlier thread brings out a GITMO related health issue that someone might still be able to address:

    Al-Ghizzawi, Candace Gorman’s client, has been subjected to a different kind of torment. She bitterly describes it as “kinder, gentler torture.”

    The beatings have ceased. Instead, Al-Ghizzawi is being allowed to slowly and painfully succumb to an untreated liver disease, according to a Red Cross doctor who has seen him.

    Gorman lined up a Swiss clinic that was willing to treat Al-Ghizzawi, and successfully lobbied the Swiss government, which agreed to accept Al-Ghizzawi if the Bush administration made an official request. The White House insisted that the Swiss government had to make the offer first. The deal collapsed.

    At one point, Al-Ghizzawi’s guards told him — falsely, it turns out — that he had AIDS.

    Razak Ali, her Algerian client, seems to be holding up well, but she fears that Al-Ghizzawi won’t last much longer. Kept in solitary confinement, he spends his days washing and rewashing his clothes. He recently told Gorman that he has started talking to himself, that he is losing his grip on reality.

    Gorman has urged him to fight for his sanity while she fights for his release. But she fears this is a race she cannot win. Al-Ghizzawi has given her his last will and testament.

    No change yet under the Obama admin.

    It’s a very good article – and also describes something I wish I could find on Youtube. One of the lawyers in testimony before the MCA quit playing deferential to Cornyn and tossed the truth in his face like a pie:

    In a moment as dramatic as any since attorney Joseph Welch took on Sen. Joseph McCarthy in 1954, Sullivan focused his scorn on Sen. John Cornyn (R- Texas), the silver-haired former Texas Supreme Court justice and faithful advocate for the Bush administration’s anti-terror policies.

    “You were a Supreme Court judge; you know what [judicial] review is,” Sullivan said with quiet fury. “You call this due process, Your Honor? Do you?”

    Cornyn was speechless, and refused to shake Sullivan’s hand afterward. Three days later, the Senate, by a vote of 65-34, passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which again denied habeas corpus to “enemy combatants.”

  34. 4jkb4ia says:

    OT: Opel stakeholders skeptical about Fiat deal

    About HRC at State: After all the work that she put in to get Obama elected, Obama had to make her some kind of offer. Any cabinet position for HRC, even HHS, or any person high up enough in the Clinton administration for State would create the same problem of knowledge of rendition. In the category of “the ‘impression’ they gave you’, this is HRC’s greatest chance to be a player in her own right, not because of what her husband did, and the controversy over the foundation is more motivation to separate herself from what her husband did. HRC must think that she can be effective at State despite her support for the Iraq war, even, which she did by herself.

    • 4jkb4ia says:

      Not to mention that global warming and other global issues have been crying for American involvement of any sort for the last eight years.

  35. JEP07 says:

    “But it also means al-Libi’s return to Libya happened in the same year that the US restored relations with Libya, and Stephen Kappes–who had played a key role in restoring relations–returned to the CIA, both in May 2006.”

    Sounds like a chess game from hell, with human rooks and knights and pawns and a chessboard that swapped it’s colors around every now and then.

    So, was November 2006 the beginning of the end of this human shell game?

  36. Mary says:

    An old piece from Obsidian Wings that gives a bit more info on the Albanian incident which was not the only Clinton era extraordinary rendition.

    BTW – I think the Bush crew was still using the Mary Jo White justification when they first sent al-Libi to Egypt. That would explain why the CIA apparently tried to claim when they shipped al-Libi to Egypt that he was Egyptian. And then when hal-libi came back to US custody and recanted and they didn’t need to have him tortured for lies bc they already had given Cheney his Iraq war, AND they had bagged a deal with Khaddafy, they suddenly realized he might be Libyan and ship him there.

  37. cinnamonape says:

    BTW Human Rights Watch has a very good report on what they know about the Fakheri (aka al-Libi) “suicide”. They suggest that Fakheri was renditioned to Egypt, and only later ended up in Libya. They don’t mention Mauritania. Relations between Mauritania and Libya have been problematic since late 2006, when they were both trying to obtain the UN Security Council seat. The recent coup in Mauritania is thought to have had Libyan backing…they are the only African Union nation to recognize the new regime.

    • Rayne says:

      We’ve seen reporting indicating al-Libi had been in Eqypt, but we still had conflicts between reports on his presence in Gitmo and in Mauritania. Sounds like there are more conflicts with timing as well.

      More indications of a high-stakes shell game of shuffle-the-detainee.

  38. 4jkb4ia says:

    Or you can accept Valtin’s take and say that a “real investigation” will go back thirty or forty years. It will not stop at the Clinton admin and it will not destroy the Clinton admin as much as it will destroy the CIA and many of their practices. Ironically enough, a special prosecutor may not conduct such a “real investigation” and so the abject terror of having to restructure the national security state would be avoided. The special prosecutor may be given a limited mission such as the prisons that we ran ourselves. In the eyes of the public the people responsible for that may be greater criminals than those who sent people away to another country not wanting to know. The torture memos we already have showed that some people had no choice but to know about what had happened and what could happen.

  39. shekissesfrogs says:

    Cheney is going on TV and says they didn’t torture, and besides- it worked.
    He is admitting it was signed off by Jr.

    It’s been a long time since this was exposed for the first time.
    In reading Seymour Hersh’s report about General Taguba, did dick just give away the big picture?

    Shortly after September 11th, Rumsfeld, with the support of President Bush, had set up military task forces whose main target was the senior leadership of Al Qaeda. Their essential tactic was seizing and interrogating terrorists and suspected terrorists; they also had authority from the President to kill certain high-value targets on sight. The most secret task-force operations were categorized as Special Access Programs, or S.A.P.s.

    The military task forces were under the control of the Joint Special Operations Command, the branch of the Special Operations Command that is responsible for counterterrorism. One of Miller’s unacknowledged missions had been to bring the J.S.O.C.’s “strategic interrogation” techniques to Abu Ghraib. In special cases, the task forces could bypass the chain of command and deal directly with Rumsfeld’s office. A former senior intelligence official told me that the White House was also briefed on task-force operations.

    The former senior intelligence official said that when the images of Abu Ghraib were published, there were some in the Pentagon and the White House who “didn’t think the photographs were that bad”—in that they put the focus on enlisted soldiers, rather than on secret task-force operations…
    A Pentagon consultant on the war on terror also said that the “basic strategy was ‘prosecute the kids in the photographs but protect the big picture.’ ”

  40. manys says:

    i’m curious whether the 5 people shot yesterday by the sergeant had any connection with interrogations.

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