The 9/11 Commission and Torture

The Daily Beast is out with a story reporting that much of the information from the 9/11 Commission Report came from detainees who had been subjected to torture. That story has been picked up by people claiming, "Much of the material cited in the 9/11 Commission’s findings was derived … during brutal CIA interrogations authorized by the Bush administration," which is not what the Daily Beast reports (though the original NBC report uses similar language, stating that the "critical information it used in [the 9/11 Report] was the product of harsh interrogations."

As someone halfway through such a study myself (and who spent much of last week combing through the 9/11 Archives), let me caution about the language used here. Much of the material cited in the 9/11 Report came from detainees–particularly KSM–after they had been tortured.  But we have no evidence that the evidence came exclusively from torture, and we have a great deal of evidence that little of the information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah came from waterboarding.

I’ve written about how little the 9/11 Commission actually used from Abu Zubaydah here (just 10 pieces of intelligence in the entire report, one of which almost certainly came before he was waterboarded), and how the Commission used just slightly more from al-Nashiri (16 pieces of intelligence, almost all of it either corroborated with other reports or–in two cases–the accuracy of which the Commission questioned). So the story for Abu Zubaydah and al-Nashiri is that while the 9/11 Commission may have gotten a lot of information from them (though as late as 2004, they said they hadn’t gotten much from al-Nashiri), they didn’t use it. 

The story with KSM, though, is different. Huge swaths of the report rely on interrogations of KSM. Here’s an incomplete compilation of the intelligence the 9/11 Commission got from KSM (this hasn’t been proofed).  It shows:

  • Hundreds of claims in the 9/11 Report rely on KSM’s interrogation reports
  • The most productive interrogations with KSM came several months after he was waterboarded, in sessions in July, August, and November 2003 and February 2004
  • Just five of 127 citations of KSM interrogations catalogued thus far (remember, I’m only halfway) came within the month after he was waterboarded
  • One of the early citations–asserting a year-long al Qaeda anthrax program–may have come as a result of waterboarding
  • The only KSM reference to Moussaoui thus far (there are others, I think) came from the month of the harshest torture

That’s significant for a couple of reasons. We know from KSM himself that after the first month of intense torture, the waterboarding, beatings, sleep and food deprivation, and stress positions largely stopped.

After about one month I was moved to another cell. I was given clothes to wear. I was no longer kept in a standing position. I was only shackled by the ankles. I could shower once a week. The interrogation became less harsh. No more physical assault, but threats along the lines of “we will take you to another room”or by having the plastic collar put on the table in front of me during the questioning. I was provided with a Styrofoam mattress. They started to give me food twice a day. To begin with the it consisted only of rice and beans. Later, after June 2003, I began to receive some meals with sardines, canned meat and bread buns. The guards would sometimes bring the food already bitten, and would handle me roughly when they took me to the shower. These things improved after I complained to one of the ‘emirs’.

On June 4th I was moved to a third cell. This move occurred after I complained about the constant music that was still being played outside my cell. The new cell was acage like structure built inside an underground room. I preferred it as there was no music and, as it was a cage structure instead of solid walls, the ventilation was better. I was again kept shackled by the feet, but not the wrists. Water was provided in two bottles. One for drinking, one for the toilet. Toilet paper was provided. Toilet still consisted of a bucket inside the cell. It was removed on a daily basis.

Given that by far the bulk of information KSM provided came after June 2003, we can say that information came after the worst torture, at a time when carrots and the threat of sticks–and a great deal of rapport building–were being used, but not directly as a result of the harshest kinds of torture. 

And KSM himself points to the "harshest period of … interrogation" as that period when he gave false information, suggesting that, speaking in 2006 to the ICRC, he stood by the veracity of what he said after that point. 

During the harshest period of my interrogation I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order to make the ill-treatment stop. I later told the interrogators that their methods were stupid and counterproductive. I’m sure that the false information I was forced to invent in order to make the ill-treatment stop wasted a lot of their time and led to several false red-alerts being placed in the US.”

Now, that doesn’t mean the 9/11 Commission shouldn’t have raised flags about possible torture (though I can tell, having looked at the materials, the real doubts came fairly late in the process, not long before the Abu Ghraib story was breaking). I’m much more concerned, however, that the Commission didn’t raise public concerns about evidence of the sheer incompetence of those conducting the interrogations. By October 16, 2003, the 9/11 Commission was asking direct questions about the linguistic skills and knowledge base (and, possibly, biases) of the interrogators. As Ali Soufan reported yesterday, the CIA’s interrogators were not just brutal, they were also amateurish. That was clear to the 9/11 Commission by fall 2003.

The Daily Beast story is correct in reporting that much of the information in the 9/11 Report came from detainees who had been subject to torture. But most of that information came after the torture had largely stopped.

51 replies
  1. TheraP says:

    EW, this is off topic. But I am unable to access Ali Soufan’s prepared statement from yesterday. I linked to it. So did you. I bookmarked it. Our links are not working this morning. Indeed, it would seem the website where it was is not working this morning. Can anyone find a link? Did anyone save the document in another form?

  2. behindthefall says:

    God help the next American troops who fall into enemy hands and who might seem to have ‘information’.

  3. allan says:

    As Ali Soufan reported yesterday, the CIA’s interrogators were not just brutal, they were also amateurish

    Medal of Freedom winner George Tenet needs to answer some questions.
    Under oath.
    Without immunity.

  4. TheraP says:

    O/T – sort of: Huge one page NY Times ad (paper edition, mine is on page 19) by Conservative Group: Accuracy in Media. Calling for media to stop discussing torture – “spreading an incalculably harmful lie that can only motivate terrorists to further attacks on America”. (is it in other newspapers?)

    I can’t find it through the Times website. Or theirs.

  5. dmvdc says:

    Incidentally, this is precisely the reason why we need the photographs released.

    It’s easy for torture apologists to claim whatever they want. You’re doing an admirable job refuting a majority of the B.S. out there; of course, the MSM needs to be struck forcefully with the clue-by-four, and soon.

    But if the photographs were released, I’m imagining they would be the argument-ender. Normal people who think, “Yeah, ticking time bomb, my mom and my dog are at risk, torture!” won’t be thinking that if they see imagery. Consider the Abu Ghraib phenomenon. Those pictures were of humiliating and degrading treatment, and they elicit strong reactions from people who see them. You can’t deny the visual evidence, and visuals are extraordinarily powerful.

    So as long as the photographs stay hidden, this chattering will go on and on. I predict that if the photographs get released, a large portion of people who are on the fence will get off it. Theory is one thing. Seeing the reality, another.

  6. rxbusa says:


    Congratulations on your well-deserved award from another long-time addict. Keep ‘em paying attention!

  7. wavpeac says:

    Without the pictures the right wing can continue the lie.

    The pictures would create a visceral response just like showing the coffins. There is something deep inside the human psyche that tells us this behavior is wrong. It’s much easier to maintain denial without the pics.

    • Waccamaw says:

      This is the by-product of Obama backing down/flip-flopping……..he can abandon all hope of getting anything accomplished in the foreseeable future. All the reich wing has to do is protest loud enough (in numerous ways) and he will fold like a wet dishrag.

  8. jackie says:

    Morning All
    Quick question.
    Do Lindsay Graham’s active* duty dates match up with anything on any of the time-lines? Because he seems to have been doing ‘detainee and military legal* stuff’ whilst playing Col. for those few days..

    ‘Graham served in Iraq as a reservist on active duty for short periods during April and two weeks in August 2007, where he worked on detainee and rule-of-law issues.[2] That makes him the only Iraq war veteran serving in the United States Senate. In December 2008 Graham served 5 days at Camp Eggers in Kabul, Afghanistan, working with military lawyers.’…..-timebomb/

  9. wavpeac says:

    Yes!! Marcy Congrats!! You deserve so much more. This site more than any other kept me sane through the bush years. Thank you for all you do…I hope more accolades are coming. Your work absolutely validates the entire reason for journalism. I used to sit in class and “hear” about it’s importance, all the stuff our forefathers said about free press. Your work embodies that spirit in a way that is incredibly inspiring.

  10. tanbark says:

    I don’t know if this has been up here, yet, but here’s a good piece by Ray McGovern, on AW.Com, on a little “talk” he had with Gen. Richard Meyers, the former Chairman of the JC’s, who wanted only to flack his book, but McGovern evidently had no interest in getting HIS copy autographed :o) :…..gen-myers/

  11. dmvdc says:

    Hey, EW, looking at your spreadsheet on interrogations from 9/11 report. You missed an entry for KSM on 09/27/03. Chapter 2 fn. 63.

  12. dmvdc says:

    Of course, were I paying attention, I would have seen that you’ve already said it’s an incomplete compilation. Heh. I’m smurt.

    • emptywheel says:

      No, but I thought I got through Chapter 2–I’ll go back and look. There are some inaccuracies with the 2004 dates, too, I’m fairly certain.


  13. fatster says:

    O/T: Bailout mess

    Paulson Told Bankers to Take U.S. Taxpayer Aid or Be ‘Exposed’

    By Elliot Blair Smith

    “May 14 (Bloomberg) — Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, saying nine U.S. banks were “central to any solution” of the credit crisis, told their leaders to take government aid or be forced to by regulators, according to a memo prepared for an October meeting.”…..refer=news

  14. fatster says:

    KKKKarl on who’s to blame.

    • MAY 14, 2009
    Congress and Waterboarding
    Nancy Pelosi was an accomplice to ‘torture.’

    “Someone important appears not to be telling the truth about her knowledge of the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs). That someone is Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. The political persecution of Bush administration officials she has been pushing may now ensnare her.

    “Here’s what we know. On Sept. 4, 2002, less than a year after 9/11, the CIA briefed Rep. Porter Goss, then House Intelligence Committee chairman, and Mrs. Pelosi, then the committee’s ranking Democrat, on EITs including waterboarding. They were the first members of Congress to be informed.”…..18193.html

      • phred says:

        Good luck with that… As they say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Rove is being deceitful on purpose, that’s his line of work. Just as Wilkerson is baffled that Cheney gets so much air time, I am baffled why anyone would give KKKKarl air time or print space. It’s not like the guy isn’t known to be a political operative, so why should anyone take what he says at face value? It’s a mystery, unless of course one assumes the news outlets that hire him are doing their best to help sell KKKKarl’s message…

    • Mary says:

      I don’t think anyone can call Pelosi an actual ‘accomplice’ to the torture.

      I think she did do a lot of very bad things, though, and her sales pitch that, “well, I knew they were saying they *could* legally torture, but I didn’t know that they actually *were* torturing” isn’t believable. It’s lack of believablity doesn’t make her an accomplice to torture, but no reasonable person would believe that after she was getting a “hey, guess what we discovered we could do, just wanted to hold a super duper secret briefing on something we had OLC investigate and issue a secret opinion for us as” she can claim that channeling Dr. Rice with: “no one could have ever expected that meant the President would send out gangs to go out and torture ” is credible.

      Most of what she did that was bad imo stemmed not from the briefing and her initial nonaction and nonreaction, but to her ongoing and continuing inaction over the years as more and more circumstances came up and came out.

      From that standpoint, I think someone might very arguably claim that she was an accomplice to torture coverups.

      • emptywheel says:

        Credible or not, she still has the CIA dead to rights for lying to Congress.

        She took impeachment off the table. That’s the really critical thing, not anything she did in 2002, but what she did in 2007.

      • phred says:

        My biggest problem with Pelosi was her adamant opposition to impeachment. She may have sincerely believed that the only way to solve the problem was to regain control of Congress and the Executive Branch through elections and then try to redress what was done, but if that is the case why isn’t Obama tackling problems with torture and state secrets head on? The fact that neither he nor Congress has lifted a finger to establish either an independent commission or prosecutor belies the importance that Pelosi places on putting an end to the worst abuses of the Bush administration. Had she chosen to impeach, the abuses could have been stopped much much sooner.

        I also find it ironic that if the Dems think torture and warrantless wiretapping and other investigations of criminal conduct by BushCo are such a distraction, why don’t they do something to get those issues off their plate? An independent commission/prosecutor would free up the Congress and President to get on with the business of governing, while the independent review goes on without them. I for one would be enormously relieved to see such a review commence (provided it is established in such a way that prosecution may be pursued as warranted) and then I could devote more bandwidth to thinking about the legislative agenda. As it is, everything else pales in comparison while our elected officials spend every waking moment of every day trying to cover up torture.

  15. TheraP says:

    Oxdown software is goofing me all up on my attempts to reproduce the ad. I’ll try TPM software.

    They call themselves:

    A Grassroots Plea to the U.S. News Media

    I love the smell of right-wing desperation in the morning.

  16. tanbark says:

    And let us be honest about Obama’s caving to the generals. He is saying unequivocally:

    “I don’t want to continue with this investigation into torture. It’s tying me up and costing me too much political capital that I’m going to need elsewhere.”

    Is he going to push for more investigative light to be shown on questions about what did the current democratic Speaker of the House and other top dems know, and when did they know it?

    The SOFA requirement for U.S. forces to leave Iraqi cities is about 45 days away. Obviously, Obama and our military have the power to ignore it, and probably, to force Maliki to “ask” them to stay in some of the cities, but that will be the first little harbinger of push-coming-to-shove in Iraq for Obama, and if he opts to override Petraeus, Odierno, and the other warbots, and insists the we honor the SOFA agreement, then it will mean the lid coming off some, and that is likely to lead to a reality check that will transcend public interest in who sent or read, which memo about torture.

    Obama has handled himself pretty well, so far, and is obviously enjoying a generally high level of support from the voters. But if american troops, and Iraqis, start dying in anything remotely resembling the worst days of Bush’s lunatic attempt to turn the place into our 51st state, then the honeymoon will be on the ropes in short order.
    I would have liked to see the creators of Abu Grahib called to account for what they’ve done, but I just don’t see the will to do it, from the top to the bottom. Too many powerful people, some of them, democrats, were aware of it, and if not actively supporting it, they had jack to say about it. And nothing has changed in Iraq; it’s a ticking time bomb, and I think there is no way to defuse it.

    As we speak, the democratic leadership should be talking about how there is not going to be a happy ending in Iraq (nor, Afghanistan, for that matter) and they should be laying the groundwork for the bandaid-on-the-hairy-leg solution that is almost certain to be forced on Obama, unless he plans to continue Bush’s policy of issuing optimistic statements…
    “Friedman’s”…about how it takes time for Jeffersonian Democracy to take root in a Muslim country which George Bush invaded based on a pack of lies and bullshit, in a media ops that would have given Joseph Goebbels a hard-on that a cat couldn’t scratch, and which we are occupying with 130,000 troops, and in which we have killed hundreds of thousands of it’s people in the effort to make it safe for the Fortune 500. Not fertile ground for the Kumbayah Chorus, I’d say.

    I’m sorry, guys, but this is going to be the crunch for us; not succeeding or failing in creating a groundswell of opinion strong enough to put some of the BushCo leadership in the dock. The two are related, of course, but the question we need to ask ourselves (and we NEED to ask it) is how this will affect our leaving Iraq, with it’s huge attendant problems.

    Honest answers, please.

    • Mary says:

      I think the issue you raise on the SOFA agreement is pretty important.

      Right now, Iraq is saying they want strict compliance with the SOFA and they want us out of the cities. Keep in mind what the SOFA does – it says that Americans who commit all the kinds of acts shown in the photos do so with absolute impunity from Iraqi response. It was the American SOFA in Iran that helped lead to the overthrow there – with the Ayatollahs making the point over and over that an American dog had more rights and protections than an Iranian being abused by Americans under the SOFA.

      So if the US is trying to stay on, it only wants to stay on under a SOFA. That was already a hard sell in Iraq. Go sell it with pictures of things like (what has been reported, at least, if this is what is shown) detainees being sodomized with a baton, detainees being smeared over their faces with feces, detainees having ropes tied to their penis and drug, etc.

      Add in any pictures women or children; or showing that Odierno fibbed about his 4th in the field; etc. and you really don’t have a great posture for anyone. Imagine the photos out right as Maliki is supposed to be enforcing the SOFA and he has to fish or cut bait.

      Not releasing the pics may be as much about Obama insuring that US troops stay in Iraq under the fig leaf of a SOFA instead of in a blatantly illegal posture, as anything.

      A big part of the problem is that these are all the kinds of issues that have been around and been clear as issues for a long time and all his campaign rhetoric showed that he either had not dug in and really figured out a gameplan or that he was just doing talking points to KISS for the masses but did have gameplan. I think we’re seeing things that are repeatedly indicative of the former, rather than the latter.

      • phred says:

        You may be right, but what doesn’t make sense to me with your hypothesis is that somehow the Iraqi’s don’t already know all of this. They live this treatment. They know all about it from family and friends. Humans are inherent gossips. The local population knows how they are treated, which is why they want us out.

        The only people who don’t know are Americans. That is why I am convinced that keeping the wraps on the pictures is solely to keep that information from the American public. Will it make us look bad everywhere else? Yes. But the biggest problems that will arise from the release of those pictures will be here.

        • Mary says:

          Sure they know, but part of politics and propaganda is timing. They will cause another stir (esp if there are some that show depraved variations on sex acts) and if that stir hits while we are trying to argue that we should be able to extend the SOFA vis a vis our presence in cities, it’s going to make it much harder politically for anyone in Iraq gov to line up behind that. But that’s just one aspect.

          I also think it’s clear that the tactics in Afghanistan are going to be leading to more deaths – Obama doesn’t want anyone to claim those are because of his release of the photos (let them go after the judge instead – he’s happy with that – did I mention SOB somewhere?)

          Then you have Odierno and his possible ties with the photos. Not all that appetizing to be revisiting the role or roles of your top dog in Iraq and his 4th infantry command, especially if anything highlights any of the issues like hostage taking for which there has never been investigation or punishment.

          Then you have the fact that Obama and the Pentagon lie by implication when they say that there was only a small handful of people involved in detainee abuse – there has NEVER BEEN ANY investigation of MI (read Fear Up Harsh and all the things he tried to do and report and writes about in the book, all with no investigation or response and that wasn’t a part of the Rumsfeld program). If pics show anyone who is MI and not MP, how do you keep the lie of investigations and punishments alive?

          Then you have the fact that if you are out there with the pictures released, constantly trying to sell the storyline that 400 soldiers were disciplined in connection with those photos, invariably someone is going to ask, things like a) why were we told in the AG trials it was just a small handful of soldiers there when, on just the things people were stupid enough to photograph, there over 400 soldiers involved; b) how come over 400 soldiers were ok to punish but you won’t even open an investigation of Rumsfeld or the CIA; or b) where were the officers?

          And that’s a quickie shortlist.

          OTOH, no matter how long you make the list, though, it doesn’t excuse what he’s doing. It just shows that he hasn’t come to grips with all the layers in any real or substantial way that will give him a gameplan.

          • fatster says:

            Those 400 soldiers is very telling, indeed, and I wish it would get more press. How can you have 400 soldiers running around amok without at least some people up the chain of command not knowing? Doesn’t our military have pride itself on strict discipline, etc.?

            • Mary says:

              Well, there was Miller taking the military version of the fifth.


              And he did go to “GITMOize” Iraq.

              And Papas getting an immunity deal with some background murmers that he had the CIA locked in on going down with him bc of the Jamal killing.

              Odierno’s crew was tied to a lot of things, including the incident where soldiers took two guys, tied their hands and had them jump off a bridge, reportedly to the death of one and the evidence that their commanding officer told them to go kill some guys in retaliation for an American soldier who had been killed. Officer and underlings walked There’s also the spec that CIA was very tied in with the death of the Iraqi general who was suffocated in the sleeping bag torture with stories that CIA was getting access to him as well and using some old Hussein insurgents, maybe MEK, to “interrogate” him (this is a guy who turned himself in) and the death might have been partly related to injuries from those sessions that the soldier who was suffocating him may not have known about.

              So lots of tangled threads.

            • phred says:

              How can you have 400 soldiers running around amok without at least some people up the chain of command not knowing?

              You can’t. That’s why the commanders are in deep serious shit here. As Mary lays out above, if you’ve got 400 soldiers who are out of hand, it’s because their commanders let ‘em off leash.

          • phred says:

            Ummm, yeah I think you may have mentioned SOB… once or twice ; )

            I agree that the pics would complicate SOFA negotiations, but I still think the principle worry is what effect those pics would have here.

            Protecting the likes of Odierno and McChrystal is only necessary because Obama has retained the command personnel (from Gates on down) that he inherited from Bush. How Obama expects to end the war and detainee abuse with that approach boggles the imagination. One wonders whether Obama really has turned to the dark side in all things military and intelligence related, or is so unfamiliar with personnel that he requires the time to figure out who to put in place instead.

            I fail to see what Obama has to gain by protecting these people, when it is so clear that he has a lot to lose in terms of popular support in the long run if he appears to be aiding and abetting torturers. Torture isn’t going to go away. Obama needs to step up and bat for the right team. His lack of courage here is deeply worrying.

            • Mary says:

              Obama needs to step up and bat for the right team. His lack of courage here is deeply worrying.

              pretty much in agreement on that

  17. fatster says:

    EW, my old high school friend’s response upon learning of your award:

    “A religious person says “God, please have mercy on me”.
    “A crooked politician says “God, please don’t put Marcy on me”.”

  18. tanbark says:

    We all despise Rove; no doubt of that, but he makes a good point, in tying Pelosi to the waterboarding, etc.

    He’s saying: “Hey, you want us? Fine, we’ll save your current Speaker of the House a seat in the dock.”

    Hard to blame him, for that.

      • klynn says:

        Oh you will have to school him. Nonetheless, he the one making the argument that he’s making and I do not see it as a threat. We know he is not correct. Even if he was, clearly, let the Rule of Law decide, not the rule of Karl. Neither Karl nor Pelosi are above the law.

        And he is the last one to be writing an opinion piece on “appearances of not telling the truth.” Karl, pot-kettle… Wow, the projection in that piece oozes.

  19. radiofreewill says:

    Imvho, the WSJ Opinion Piece by Rove puts him ‘on the hook’ for Aiding and Abetting Torture, along with Roberts and Huckleberry from yesterday:

    “If Mrs. Pelosi considers the enhanced interrogation techniques to be torture, didn’t she have a responsibility to complain at the time, introduce legislation to end the practices, or attempt to deny funding for the CIA’s use of them? If she knew what was going on and did nothing, does that make her an accessory to a crime of torture, as many Democrats are calling enhanced interrogation?”

    Call that Pot black, Karl! Say it loud and proud in the WSJ!

    And No Matter what Turd Blossom thinks he knows about Pelosi, he can’t get around his own Knowing that Bush Waterboarded Zubaydah – Statutorily Torture and a War Crime – before informing Congress At All.

    So, in his lust to ‘get Pelosi,’ Rover jumped on a Thorny Rose.

    Our Big-Mouth Trout line is getting crowded…

  20. TheraP says:

    Ok. Took me forever but here’s the AD, as best I can put it up. Together with a preliminary accounting of all the lies.

    EW, you are always most welcome to any of my ideas. Steal with impunity! I am doing this for the cause, not for me. If there’s a way to put this up here and attack all of it, be my guest!

    Or I could do an Oxdown diary here with a link to that post. Any suggestions?

  21. tanbark says:

    Marcy: They are, no doubt, liars. But I think at this point, Pelosi is futzing around about her contacts with the CIA, and what was said in them, in a very Bushian manner. The current lead thread, in which you defend Bob Graham (probably fairly; I haven’t read it yet) is still an indicator of the contacts that were made between the CIA and the dems. How many of those meetings would cast the democratic conferees in a bad light, is not yet known, for sure.

    Political cartoons can mean something or nothing, but if you watch them, and pay attention to the track record of the people who are drawing them, they can be a pretty good indicator of what’s going on. Here’s Oliphant, whose progressive credentials are impeccable:…..arUuYDwLAF

    What IS known is that our president is backing off the investigation. As we all know, he’s a pretty savvy dude (nice to use that word, and NOT to apply it to Hillary Clinton. :o) )

    If we want to hammer on him for doing that, fine, but as I pointed out, the real hammer for Obama and the dems, is not going to be a failure to put the bushmasters in the dock, but a failure to honor his campaign promises to extract us from Iraq. And we are not far from having that begin to kick in. What I’m saying, is this:

    That little chore is going to determine what kind of administration Obama has in his first term, and it may determine whether or not he has a second one. That is not the case with getting or not getting indictments of some of the top members of the Bush administration. Which indictments, if we got them, would certainly be dragged out in the courts for years, during which time Iraq is going to rear it’s ugly head, big time. Also, we should keep in mind that the makeup of SCOTUS is not going to change substantially with Obama’s appointment. About all we can hope for is that Souter, a basically liberal justice, will be replaced with one more or less the same, and that won’t change the voting profile of the court. We could spend zigagigs of piss, vinegar, and bandwidth trying to gin up enough outrage to lure Obama and his DOJ and the dem congress, not to mention, the cottage people, back to the criminal-action trough, and a couple of years from now (if we’re lucky) wind up with the court finding for these assholes.
    If we get indictments, this will probably be creeping along at about the same time that Obama is having to make that Hobson’s choice of following in Bush’s footsteps and trying to run the bullshit to keep us in Iraq, or of withdrawing substantial numbers of our troops, and taking the consequences…which consequences, on which I think most of us would bet, won’t be positive for us. Nor, at least in the short-term, for them.

    In a way, the torture issue is OUR little Hobson’s choice. Do we put our eggs in that basket, and then watch the basket rot out in the delaying tactics of the Bushheads, and probably wind up thrown out by the same justices who put them in power, or do we take a good look at the cost/benefits and decide if it’s worth it.

    Again, I think we need to ask the question.

  22. lysias says:

    After somebody has already been tortured, isn’t any information an interrogator later gets from him unreliable? After all, there’s always the implicit threat of resuming the torture.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yes. But consider what unreliable means. It means the interrogator can’t assume the information is true (that’s true of persuaded interrogation too, but it’s reliability is higher). But if KSM is saying in one breath, the stuff I said before June 2003 was a lie, but not the stuff I’ve said since, and he has told an independent third party that his treatment improved greatly after the fact, then it suggests taht KSM, at least, is making a distinction between what he said in March through June 2003 and what he said after.

  23. JohnLopresti says:

    Rove’s patently specious hype referenced, serves as a reflection of the lame rhetoric factories of that time in 2002, 2003, when the guys were bullying two infocomparmentalized women in congress, Harman, Pelosi. Graham’s recordkeeping disputes reveal the factoidality of the ‘documentation’stream; and Zelikow’s parsing adds dimension to the effort to deflect. Illustrative of the latter, Z’s remarks at the hearing yesterday concerning Gitmo as symbol were a reverse form of evasion, which actually was supporting SenLGraham’s fictions framed as questions, much like SenLGraham’s colloquies inserted in the congressional record in re Hamdan which spurious legislative history Scotus itself dismissed instantly, following Daschle’s clear obliteration of the gossamer tale Graham et al tried to foist upon Scotus. Maybe the then president appreciated the added pressure upon Harman and Pelosi as congress began to elicit increments of what the administration’s incentives really were, with respect to the slippery slope which is state sponsored tocha. Rove simply would call it effectiveness in relations toward congress, in a texted message stored in one of fifty offsite accounts on a partisan server later deleted by R himself, State secrets, confidentiality among advisors.

  24. tanbark says:

    Mary, well said. I fear you’re right.

    Here’s a good piece from this Morning’s…

    I think “mixed signals” is the operative phrase here. The Iraqi “government” is all over the lot, one day, and then all over it in the other direction, the next.

    Odierno, at least, is upfront in saying flatly that CentCom can (will?) ignore the SOFA on the matter of pulling U.S. troops out of the cities.

    Of course, this is the runup to the power struggle about who decides whether or not we start taking REAL steps in getting out of Bush’s shitmire. Obama can put his foot down and force the issue, but if he does that, and the factional shit hits the fan, as I would bet it will, then the ensuing bloodshed and chaos, to some extent, will be on him.

    I’ve been saying that within the next 6 months, and maybe sooner, he needs to farm Petraeus and Odierno out to Fort Bumfuck, Arizona, and get some brass in there who will back him up by saying what is obvious:

    “We’ve done all we can do here. We need to leave and let, nay, FORCE, these people to face up to the choices of making some huge compromises about oil, etc., or having one hell of a civil war.”

    But this, too has problems. The republicans have NO one of presidential stature to take on Obama. Palin has become nothing but a running trailer-trash joke. The progressive bloggers should stop wasting bandwidth on her.
    Petraeus is another story. He could make a formidable candidate in 2012, and I think he’s well aware of it, and is moderating his statements and his support for staying, a bit.

    If Obama left both he and Odierno in their roles, some of the tar for a resumed madhouse in Iraq, could adhere to them. Also, if Petraeus wanted to run, I believe he’d have to resign to do it.

    The entire mess is as latent as can be. Fraught with danger for all concerned.

    I think the best option is to partition the country. It was never one entity, but was cobbled up by the Brits after WWI, to make sure they had access to the oil that was being discovered in prodigious amounts…only, partition has it’s own downsides, to be dealt with, some of them, huge.

    Back to Pelosi. Here she is at a presser today, telling everyone that the CIA fooled her:…..si_torture

    Which at best, is her saying:

    “I was too dumb or cowardly to ask the tough questions in the briefing.”

    and there’s plenty of room for doubt about what SHE says she was told, and what the CIA says she was told.

    At any rate, as she points out, the senior democrat on the committee, who received the 2003 briefing on waterboarding, sent the CIA a formal letter of protest. Did Pelosi know that, then, and if so, why didn’t she join in the protest? The fact is, she’s done little, if anything, to try to call Bush and his people to account for their wretched policies. In essence, she has been part of the problem, not the solution. (If there is one…)

    OTOH, she wasn’t fooled on the War Authorization Vote in 2002, when she voted with 126 other House dems–61%–of them, to OPPOSE authorizing the invasion, so there’s that.

  25. lysias says:

    Windrem’s claim in the Daily Beast story that

    *Much of the information in the report of the 9/11 Commission was provided through more than 30 sessions of torture of detainees.

    immediately follows two paragraphs that cite sources

    *Two U.S. intelligence officers confirm that Vice President Cheney’s office suggested waterboarding an Iraqi prisoner, a former intelligence official for Saddam Hussein, who was suspected to have knowledge of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection.

    *The former chief of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer, in charge of interrogations, tells The Daily Beast that he considered the request reprehensible.

    Granted, Windrem uses the passive voice and does not attribute that third paragraph about torture for the 9/11 Commission directly to any of the three sources, but he certainly strongly implies that the information comes from them.

  26. timbo says:

    Yeah, she took impeachment off the table because the economic numbers were see-sawing around so much that it made the scared patsies in Congress too scared to act to right much of anything. Reward? Another Great Depression…and no investigations of the Bush Regime. Surprised? Intentional? Will anyone be allowed to reach a legal verdict…ever?

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