Jane Mayer to Marc Thiessen: Your Guys’ Ignorance Got Us Attacked

Jane Mayer has a great general purpose slapdown of torture apologist Marc Thiessen love letter to torture. She hits on most of the weaknesses of Thiessen’s arguments: his false claims about what prevented the 2006 liquid explosive plane plot, apologists’ very selective examination of what counts as an attack on American, the silence about Ibn Sheik al-Libi’s (and others’) false confessions, demonstrably false claims that no one at Gitmo was ever tortured.

But there’s a point she makes that really ought to be the focus of push back against all torture apologists: the Bush Administration ignored repeated warnings about the imminent al Qaeda attack in 2001, and any ignorance about al Qaeda–which Thiessen claims was general–belongs to Bush’s top leaders, not the intelligence community.

Thiessen, citing [Michael] McConnell, claims that before the C.I.A. began interrogating detainees the U.S. knew “virtually nothing” about Al Qaeda. But McConnell was not in the government in the years immediately before 9/11. He retired as the director of the National Security Agency in 1996, and did not rejoin the government until 2007. Evidently, he missed a few developments during his time in the private sector, such as the C.I.A.’s founding, in 1996, of its bin Laden unit—the only unit devoted to a single figure. There was also bin Laden’s declaration of war on America, in 1996, and his 1998 indictment in New York, after Al Qaeda’s bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa. The subsequent federal trial of the bombing suspects, in New York, produced thousands of pages of documents exposing the internal workings of Al Qaeda. A state’s witness at the trial, a former Al Qaeda member named Jamal al-Fadl, supplied the F.B.I. with invaluable information about the group, including its attempts to obtain nuclear weapons. (Fadl did so without any coercion other than the hope of a future plea bargain. Indeed, the F.B.I., without using violence, has persuaded dozens of other suspected terrorists to coöperate, including, most recently, the Christmas Day bomber.)

In order to make the case that America was blind to the threat of Al Qaeda in the days before 9/11, Thiessen skips over the scandalous amount of intelligence that reached the Bush White House before the attacks. In February, 2001, the C.I.A.’s director, George Tenet, called Al Qaeda “the most immediate and serious threat” to the country. Richard Clarke, then the country’s counterterrorism chief, tried without success to get Condoleezza Rice, Bush’s national-security adviser, to hold a Cabinet-level meeting on Al Qaeda. Thomas Pickard, then the F.B.I.’s acting director, has testified that Attorney General John Ashcroft told him that he wanted to hear no more about Al Qaeda. On August 6, 2001, Bush did nothing in response to a briefing entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.” As Tenet later put it, “The system was blinking red.”

(I would add that refusal of Thiessen’s precious CIA to share information about Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar also prevented us from acting on the biggest lead that could have prevented the attack.)

This point is not repeated enough, perhaps out of some sense of comity toward a guy, Cheney, who has spent the last year (really, his entire life) breaking every rule of comity in DC.

Out of ignorance of al Qaeda, arrogance that only loyal insiders should participate in setting security priorities, and plain old bad judgment about the potential threat of terrorists, the Bush Administration failed to act on clear warnings that we would be hit on 9/11. Those are, not surprisingly, precisely the same characteristics drove us to ignore our experts on interrogation and instead follow the word of a bunch of hucksters who wanted to get rich off of torturing other human beings.

Every time someone like Thiessen attempts to push his propaganda, we really ought to be asking why we should trust the propagandist of the guys who are still trying to overcompensate for having failed in the first place.

47 replies
  1. Mary says:


    One problem is that no network makes any effort to have journalists who know something about the topic involved in questioning when someone like Thiessen trots out. They get some admin official who blinks and says, “oh golly, Obama is going to try to be strong and he’ll do just anything, anything anything anything, to keep America safe, please don’t pick on us Mr. Cheney and Mr. Thiessen” or someone who is the admin’s version of *tough* who does the same except instead of “please don’t pick on us” says, “and Dick Cheney shot an old man in the face.”

    Never does anyone go toe to toe with these torture cheerleaders.

    It’s a mindboggling disgrace that after being tortured to give Powell a talking point, Congress, the Courts and the media have all basically ignored al-Libi. If he had given a statement that was used in Anna Nichole Smith’s case instead, there would be non-stop coverage of how he was tortured, how he was disappeared, etc.

    But since it was ‘only’ used for the mass killings and injuries Americans and Iraqis and the creation of millions of refugees – unimportant.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      So few newspapers employ actual reporters anymore so the threat of being cut off from inside information really frightens editors.

      In the old days, the editor would have politely declined to run this crap and sicced a couple of newshounds on Thiessen to see who hired him and why. And if there was anything provable.

      Politicians should fear newspapers, not the other way around.

      Boxturtle (Used to be the advice was to never get in a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel)

  2. klynn says:

    Every time someone like Thiessen attempts to push his propaganda, we really ought to be asking why we should trust the propagandist of the guys who are still trying to overcompensate for having failed in the first place.

    And every time a publication allows such propagandists on their op-ed pages, I see their own liability being opened up to accomplice status. Nuremberg did take down newspaper publishers BTW.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      But there’s a point she makes that really ought to be the focus of push back against all torture apologists: the Bush Administration ignored repeated warnings about the imminent al Qaeda attack in 2001, and any ignorance about al Qaeda–which Thiessen claims was general–belongs to Bush’s top leaders, not the intelligence community.

      I was going to highlight the same passage, so we’re both struck by this point.

      In addition, this point needs to be overlaid with:
      1. offshore accounts, bogus accounting, and opaque financial transactions
      2. the Secret Energy Task Force instigated by Cheney in 2001
      3. the preliminary hiring at DoD-OSP, where Feith told Col Lang that (Lang’s) fluency in Arabic was a disqualification.

      What I find interesting and significant is that a True Believer like Thiessen is ramping up his attempts to rewrite history.

      Here’s hoping that fatster’s links are the very tip of a quiet upheaval in the works. (Especially if ‘Cambone’ is the DoD official in question, although there are so many possibilities…)

      (This all reminds me that I’ve never quite figured out BCCI, but it fits in here somewhere…)

      • fatster says:

        It would be wonderful if all the investigations and such would lead to breakthroughs, the truth and righting all the damage that has been done, wouldn’t it?

        Or, within that context: if wishes were horses, we’d be the thundering herd.

  3. ezdidit says:

    This is supposed to make Cheney a tough guy?
    He shot his own man!
    There is a career-ender. There is no greater incompetence in intelligence or armed services.

    You get to burn only one op in a career, and Plame-Wilson was it for him.

    Friendly fire is recklessness & ineptitude – it disqualified Cheney years ago. He is a laughingstock!

    And Marc Thiessen is a discredited decade-old retread – a literate nobody who was nowhere when the firing started – he should be ignored. His creds actually rise only through disputation. NOTHING he asserts can be considered as valid.

  4. 4jkb4ia says:

    Re Citizen92 comments to post from 105 years ago: according to legistorm.com, Anne Tyrrell is Communications Director for Thaddeus McCotter and draws a small salary from the House Republican Policy Committee. Legistorm.com has a list of all of the staffers’ names and salaries.

    Appears to be a convincing smackdown to the idea that Thiessen’s book is the shadow “Dark Side” that Ross Douthat wanted to read.

  5. kindGSL says:

    In February, 2001, the C.I.A.’s director, George Tenet, called Al Qaeda “the most immediate and serious threat” to the country. Richard Clarke, then the country’s counterterrorism chief, tried without success to get Condoleezza Rice, Bush’s national-security adviser, to hold a Cabinet-level meeting on Al Qaeda. Thomas Pickard, then the F.B.I.’s acting director, has testified that Attorney General John Ashcroft told him that he wanted to hear no more about Al Qaeda. On August 6, 2001, Bush did nothing in response to a briefing entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.”

    OK guys that is too much to be a coincidence. It wasn’t a lack of attention, it was a deliberate diversion of attention. 9/11 was an inside job.

    The media has deliberately covered it up.

    This is really obvious, so why does everyone still talk about it like they were telling us the truth? Force of habit?

    • mike123 says:

      Inside job is a catchphrase. Makes a good T-shirt that really enhances ones’ credibility.

      It doesn’t even make sense in the context to which you replied. Ignored warnings=inside job? Ignored warnings=al Qaeda attack=not an inside job.

  6. bobschacht says:

    Jane Mayer hits another home run! (Sorry for the sports metaphor, but I’m at a loss for a more gender-appropriate figure of speech.)

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

    I guess this should be spotlighted to national journalists, especially those whose knees buckle every time the Cheney-Thiessen crowd tries to re-write history (which seems to be their raison d’etre).

    And oh, BTW, Sy Hersch has been quiet for about a year now, hasn’t he? Wasn’t he expected to launch some major expose once Bush & Cheney were out of the White House?

    Bob in AZ

    • Mary says:

      Well, since Sweet Sixteen is ongoing as well, you could have gone with slam dunk, but I kinda think that phrase has been approptiated.

  7. orionATL says:

    jane meyer and ew from “…out of ignorance of al-quaida…” on,

    say what has needed to be said for a decade.

    this is why i write that cheney is a fool. i do not mean that word as merely an annoyed, disparaging pejorative, but as a descriptive with the full weight of its meaning.

    dick cheney is a fool, a fool who has cost our nation enormously in lives, public funds that would have been better spent on social and economic growth, and, of most consequence in the long run, in severe damage to our 250 yr old constitutional compact between citizens and their government.

  8. JTMinIA says:

    I love many of Diane Rehm’s guests, but I can’t listen to her for more than five seconds without experiencing severe head pains. I know this makes me a bad person, since it sounds like she has Parkinson’s, but that’s who I am.

    Unrelatedly (but actually on-topic), it’s the catalog of pre-9/11 failures laid out nicely by Jane Mayer that feeds the tin-hat folks.

    Combinatorially, maybe a tin hat would help when listening to Diane Rehm’s voice.

    • nusayler says:

      Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger and you’re not a bad person. I, too, struggled with understandable cringing when I listened to the show. I was constantly fighting the urge to be a politically incorrect fag and scream, “Spit it out!!”

      My answer? I researched the pathology of her condition and found a little knowledge made me a lot more patient. Also I saw a picture of her..shockeroo. If you don’t know what she looks like, you’ll be surprised. Dunno, maybe just adding the humanity of the face to the voice was what did it.

      • bobschacht says:

        Thanks for saying something along the lines I wanted to say.
        Actually, compare Diane Rehm’s voice and conversational style with, say, Chris Mathews’ high volume, talk all the time especially over your guests when they’re trying to say something, and I’ll choose Diane Rehm every time. Mathews loves to hear himself talk, and in advertising his show, likes to brag about badgering his guests and tripping them up.

        Anyone who wonders about Rehms’ voice, do what nusayler did and do your homework. Her voice is the result of a medical condition that has nothing to do with her cognitive capacity, which is considerable. She is extremely popular for a reason.

        Bob in AZ

  9. kindGSL says:

    Thiessen never questions the wisdom of relying on C.I.A. officials to assess the legality and effectiveness of their own controversial program. Yet many people at the agency aren’t just worried about the judgment of history; they’re worried about facing prosecution. As a report by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility notes, the agency has a “demonstrated interest in shielding its interrogators from legal jeopardy.”

    Uhh … if we have an agency that is trying to shield it’s members from the law, and they do all these other awful and illegal things, how are they not in fact a terrorist organization? Isn’t this clearly and obviously treason?

    That has been something that has been missing all along from reporting like Jane Mayer’s.

    She keep pretending they should be allowed to get away with it. I haven’t been able to figure it our for years. Is this the spin of her editors, or does she really believe it?

    • skdadl says:

      That has been something that has been missing all along from reporting like Jane Mayer’s.

      She keep pretending they should be allowed to get away with it. I haven’t been able to figure it our for years. Is this the spin of her editors, or does she really believe it?

      Why do you say that, kindGSL? Maybe I haven’t read everything she’s written, but I’ve never thought she was making an argument that anyone should be allowed to get away with anything. How could she do that when she has worked so hard to expose so much? That would just not be logical.

      She may write in very cool reportorial style, seldom taking the last step to argument or advocacy, but in the very compilation of facts, she is going for the jugular, I’ve always thought.

  10. fatster says:

    O/T – Blackwater, et al.

    Gates says reviewing contractors’ role in intel gathering

    (This is in addition to the announcement last week that the Pentagon “was investigating “serious allegations” about a Defense Department employee who may have secretly channeled money to an off-the-books spy operation aimed at hunting militants.”)


  11. sundog says:

    When I would hear journalists say,”9/11 changed everything,” It would make me cringe. It did change one major thing; It got the GOP to join the Democrats in admitting that Al Qaeda is a threat. Bill Clinton was saying that OBL was the greatest threat to this country all through the 90’s, but the GOP kept insisting the gravest threat to our nation was a BJ in the White House.

    Let’s not forget that the Clinton Administration got all of the 9/11 attackers from the first attack without invading countries for their oil and tried them successfully in civilian courts.

    Let’s not forget that near the end of Clinton’s term, NORAD actually ran a simulation where hijackers had taken an airliner and were going to fly it into the WTC. Nor the fact that French intelligence had warned us of such plots uncovered against them in the mid 90’s.

    Also, it’s been reported, that the report, “Bin Laden Determined to attack the U.S” that was given to Condi, had an image of an airliner flying into the WTC. They knew, but they chose to ignore it, because they were still trying to fight a cold war that no longer existed. Remember, Condi’s an expert on Russia. A lot of good that did us.

    The simple fact is, the Bush administration chose not to take the threat seriously. The fact that the media get’s in a tizzy about sex in the WH, but not about a WH that fails to protect us still galls me to this day.

  12. Frank33 says:

    Then, thumbing his nose as the man Vanity Fair called “the bin Laden Brain,” Mohamed left — at which point Fitzgerald turned to Cloonan and called Ali “the most dangerous man I have every met.” More importantly, he declared, “we cannot let this man out on the street.”

    Patrick Fitzgerald is the DOJ Bin Laden expert and has been on the case for almost 20 years. During those years Ali Mohamed traveled the world for the Green Berets, FBI and Al Qaeda. KSM may take the blame for every crime ever committed, but Ali was part of the 1993 WTC attack, African Embassy bombings and moving Bin Laden. KSM has likely been driven mad by torture but Ali is out on the streets and retired to a comfortable Silicon Valley suburb with a comfortable government pension. The DOJ is trying to suppress the story and destroy Peter Lance.

    The activities of Al Qaeda, as a secret army for Saudi Arabia had to kept secret from our own government. Jamie Gorelick suppressed investigations that could have prevented 9-11.

    “In the days before September 11, the wall specifically impeded the investigation into Zacarias Moussaoui, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. After the FBI arrested Moussaoui, agents became suspicious of his interest in commercial aircraft and sought approval for a criminal warrant to search his computer. The warrant was rejected because FBI officials feared breaching the wall.

    “When the CIA finally told the FBI that al-Midhar and al-Hazmi were in the country in late August, agents in New York searched for the suspects. But because of the wall, FBI headquarters refused to allow criminal investigators who knew the most about the most recent al Qaeda attack to join the hunt for the suspected terrorists.

    “At that time, a frustrated FBI investigator wrote headquarters, quote, ‘Whatever has happened to this–someday someone will die–and wall or not–the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain ‘problems.’ ”

      • Frank33 says:

        Is Patrick Fitzgerald a phony neo-con shill, protecting Prince Bandar and Saudi oil dictatorship?

    • bobschacht says:

      Patrick Fitzgerald is the DOJ Bin Laden expert and has been on the case for almost 20 years.

      Really? What is your evidence for this?

      Bob in AZ

      • Frank33 says:

        His attempt to censor the truth about his decisions, and his vendetta against Lance. Various DOJ personnel let or allowed or ordered Al Qaeda, or at least Ali Mohamed run amok, with Bin Laden. Then there is the censored 28 page Congressional report, which is rumored to blame Saudi Arabia for acts of war, the WTC attack on 9-11. Who is keeping this report secret? Fitzgerald?

        Or is this similar to so many other government security officials whose utter incompetence resulted in the murder of 3000 people and countless Bushie wars. Is Fitzgerald utterly incompetent?

        • bobschacht says:

          Your theory about Fitzgerald is laced with rife speculation and guesswork. It has to rank up there with some of the more bizarre tinfoil hat theories that I’ve read. That doesn’t mean that you’re wrong, but it does mean that you don’t have all that much evidence to support your theory.

          Bob in AZ

  13. prostratedragon says:

    Lawrence Wright notes a little detail from the Hazmi-Midhar trail that I’d never noticed before. Seems Yazid Sufaat, the Malaysian businessman who owned the golf course condo where the Kuala Lumpur meeting was held on Jan. 5, 2000, also collaborated with Ayman Al-Zawahiri in efforts to create anthrax weapons.[The Looming Tower, p. 351] Yet another nest that might have been disturbed by the seeming follow-on anthrax attacks.

    • Mary says:

      I hadn’t really followed any of that much, but after your post did a fast google.

      Apparently after picking up Yazid Sufaat in Dec of 2001, Malaysia released him as “reformed” in Dec of 2008 and I can’t find anything much about him after that – although he was wanted by the US in connection with 9/11.

      So he is where now? And the US applied for extradition or something, right? Or not so much -he was being released as Bush and Cheney were on their way out.

      • prostratedragon says:

        [sigh] It’s so hard to keep up with these things during administrative interregna!

        I’ve just been taking a quick tour of all the surveillance compartments reported at History Commons, both U.S. and allied, that converged on Hamburg, Yemen, Malaysia, etc. at critical times, only to result in incomplete passes, goal line fumbles, transient attacks of global amnesia, and the sudden failure to appreciate the potential significance of movements that had been watched for literal years.

        Since the Commission report came out* no part of the story has bugged me more than the Hazmi-Midhar trail, almost everything about it. Something might have to come of that soon …

        Some relevant entries at HC at this link, and here also. And nb: in Looming Tower, p. 315, Wright also puts in vivid terms the discovery by FBI of the phone at Al-Midhar’s father-in-law’s house through which eavesdroppers would learn of the impending Hazmi-Midhar trip to KLM.

        Seems FBI interrogators asked the man they eventually established as the driver of the truck-bomb in Nairobi to write down the first phone number he called after the bomb went off at the embassy. The man had also called the number shortly before beginning the operation. Bin Laden had called it on either side of the bombing as well, they later found.

        So clearly, info flows related to major Al Qaeda operational functions were routed through that number. Put that together with the fact that Midhar’s limited-time US visa was already known to CIA (they’d broken into his apartment; LT p. 351) and what was already known about some of the people whom one might meet in KLM and it’s hard to see getting an attack of the dumbs in the wake of a meeting set up there.

        * I agree with wavpeac, there’s plenty of food for thought even in that “official” version. I can hardly imagine that the members figured they had laid the matter to rest.

        • Mary says:

          I sure find it remarkable that Yazid Sufaat would be released by Malaysia as Bush is on his way out, and then his name just disappears.

          It seems like he’d be a pretty important witness and possible source of criminal charges himself. OTOH, I thought it bizarre that after it came out in 2006 or so that al-libi was back in US hands as of 2004, no one in Congress or with DOJ followed up with him at all.

          All theses so-called investigations and testimonies etc and yet Congress and our Dept of Justice just let al-Libi slip into another country without a murmer.

  14. wavpeac says:

    From the beginning it seemed to me, that the 911 report while it did not prove or even disprove that 911 was an inside job, and did not prove or disprove that the Bush administration “caused” 911, it absolutely did make a strong argument for the possibility of LIHOP (let it happen on purpose).

    the Bush Administration ignored repeated warnings about the imminent al Qaeda attack in 2001, and any ignorance about al Qaeda–which Thiessen claims was general–belongs to Bush’s top leaders, not the intelligence community.

    Doesn’t that sentence come awfully close to saying exactly that. I am not implying that a bunch of folks stood by and let 911 occur…not in a direct way. But there is awfully strong, valid evidence that Bushco did every thing they could to increase our risk by their “denial” of the risk.

    I thought the 911 report was pretty damning of the Bush administration in regard to the warnings it had received and their inaction in regard to them. At the time, this message was nullified but remained very close to treason, in my view. Now, in retrospect, it’s hard to deny. I don’t buy that bush was NOT culpable in 911…nor do I buy the idea of a complex conspiracy run by Bushco to “cause” 911. But I think that this is an example that gets as close to a real life LIHOP as it can get.

    When you consider what they had to gain (especially in retrospect) it seems only a matter of semantics that the Bush administration has not been held accountable. The Bush administration and cronies profited from 911 in almost every way possible. Motive. No you can’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they “let it happen”, but it seemed to me that you can very easily prove that they had ample warning, that they ignored, and that they then, profited from it after it occurred.)

    It seems responses to this issue are dichotomous. Either that Bushco…made it happen, or that all kinds of people were ordered to stand by and watch it occur, which is one extreme. The other extreme would be that Bushco was completely innocent and just couldn’t “fathom” that something like this could ever happen on our soil and was simply ignorant and incompetent. It seems clear to me that neither polar can be true. That their must be a better synthesis of these opposing ends. There is some truth to each side, but there are obvious problems each polar position on this.

    I propose that as time goes on, we will come to accept that the truth about Bushco and 911 is somewhere in the middle of these two opposing positions.

  15. JohnLopresti says:

    Several facets of the post and its Mayer cite, appeared promising for some reasearch threads in which I had incomplete projects long past. One interesting feature about FBI in September 2001 was it had a director who was newly installed for only 1 month, Mueller having received senate confirmation in August 2001. Still, the Ashcroft demand not to have to listen to a mere acting-director of FBI who was fretting about alQ menace, seemed somehow worse than inept, though perhaps in character for the obdurate Ashcroft. Congressional Research Service*s Hogue in 2005 wrote a tidy 6pp history of the nomination process for the directorship of FBI there [41KBpdf]. Incidentally, Mueller*s term expires August 2011, though serving at the president*s pleasure; cf op cit.

    For the purpose of contextualizing the way Ashcroft might have felt, as AG, and the wave of controversy through which Ashcroft acceeded to the AG-ship, it was illuminating to read senator Wellstone*s declamatory explication on the senate floor, of why he voted against the former senator from MO*s nomination as AG, there 2pp+ in the congressional record.

    Mueller himself seems to have enjoyed a typically expeditious approval process of 2 weeks duration; however, there were evidently some colorful, if distant past, background events involving president Clinton and AG Reno about eight years before, at the time Sessions left the post early and Freeh was the replacement; cf Johnston in NYT there.

    As for the criticism in one upthread comment directed at Mayer, my take is she is one of the straight-shooting women in journalism, and one of godsgifts to the trade.

    Yet, for the style critique of Ashcroft, Wellstone encapsulated a lot on those pages. Many similar voices at the time of the Ashcroft AG nomination hearings were foreshadowing what kind of administration Bush wished to assemble. Ashcroft was a sign of what was to occur, and how inattentive to input that administration intended to be. I have yet to find an article I read which claimed BushW depicted his decision to annoint Cheney as his VPrunningmate as having originated with pappyBushHW; at HW*s behest, one might say.

    • prostratedragon says:

      I have yet to find an article I read which claimed BushW depicted his decision to annoint Cheney as his VPrunningmate as having originated with pappyBushHW; at HW*s behest, one might say.

      I think I’ve read that article or a similar one. Something that put it in the treacly terms of a father-son guessing game from many decades ago, in which Poppy would pretend that the desired answer was not the thing he was pointing to, so little Georgie would pretend to have to think hard in coming up with a proposal. And of course I think it is generally known that Cheney was recommended to Bush by his father to head either the transistion or the VP search team.

      Any case, I’ve never bought in to the notion that HW thought Cheney was too right wing. Too overt, too clumsy, and probably insubordinate, yeah, but for the most part I think he knew his man’s objectives.

      • fatster says:

        and JohnLopresti @ 29.

        This it?

        “ABCNEWS has also learned that the elder Bush, who was instrumental in tapping Cheney to head the selection process, has been recommending for weeks that Cheney join his son on the GOP ticket.”

  16. onwatch says:

    Everyday I think that the Bush people were just coveringup their own ineptness, spending August 2001 bushwacking and such. There is no excuse for their being free.

  17. pdaly says:

    I liked the article. This paragraph had me laughing.

    Perhaps the most outlandish falsehood in “Courting Disaster” is Thiessen’s portrayal of Obama and the Democrats as the sole opponents of brutal interrogation tactics. Thiessen presents the terminiation of the C.I.A. program as a renegade action by President Obama [snip]
    …Yet Thiessen knows that waterboarding and other human-rights abuses, such as dispatching prisoners into secret indefinite detention, were abandoned by the Bush Administration: he wrote the very speech announcing , in 2006, that the [Bush] Administration was suspending their use.”

    (bold mine)

    Mayer shoots down so many of Thiessen’s lies with facts, that I lost count. The smack down from her New Yorker article will help students of history see through Thiessen’s retailing of this time in our country.

    But Mayer’s closing sentence is a barb correctly aimed at Obama:

    “By holding no one accountable for past abuse, and by convening no commission on what did and didn’t protect the country, President Obama has left the telling of this dark chapter in American history to those who most want to whitewash it.”

  18. dotmafia says:

    I agree that it could not have been just a major f*ckup by Bushco. With the OVP’s intense addiction to information (and there was obviously a lot of intelligence floating their way), it would seem completely absurd to think Cheney was unaware of something big going to happen, if not something actually specific. Cheney most likely knew, but purposely kept Bush in the dark for the president’s protection. I myself believe that there was an inside job between members of the CIA, Mossad, Saudi intelligence and Pakistani ISI, each playing their role with their own agendas. But if this is indeed wrong, then the only other conclusion must be that they knew, but allowed it to happen, so that the Neocons could finally enact their long-established plans. I’ve long believed that a major link to be investigated is former head of the Pakistani ISI, Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmed, who supposedly supplied the date of 9/11 for the attack to Mohammed Atta, after learning about the war games planned for that day, and who also allegedly ordered $100K wired to him in Florida. Ahmed might have been supplied the war game information from U.S. intelligence or Congressional officials, which would basically imply that it was U.S. officials who ultimately determined the date of the attack. Another key figure who needs more investigation, and who would be a link between U.S. intelligence and al Qaeda, is the F.B.I. informant who helped and lived with hijackers in San Diego.

    • AlexS says:

      I think the idea of a multi-faceted, multi-national, multi-agency attack is the only explanation that seems to fit the available evidence. Those who would seek to put the attack just on the Bush administration or just on Mossad are, like those who believe the official Conspiracy Myth, looking for a simpler solution than is realistic. The idea that covert paramilitary agencies might operate together out of mutual interests is written off as a paranoid fantasy, but there’s plenty of precedent. After all, the Mossad and ISI were the direct creation of the CIA! And neither Israel and Pakistan has had the luxury of a Church Committee or committee on political assassinations to air the dirtiest laundry of these organizations to the populations these organizations ostensibly serve.

      A multi-agency attack offers so many advantages to the conspirators, regardless of how outlandish and complicated it might seem to those looking for simple, tightly-wrapped explanation packages. The sharing of resources, the diversion of paper trails and obfuscation of financial transactions, the confusion caused for those investigating the conspiracy after the fact… These are all amble benefits, and perhaps none are as important as the after-the-fact “mutually assured discretion”! The simple-minded argument that such a conspiracy would involve hundreds of Americans who would subsequently have an impossible time keeping their mouths shut about their participation in acts of treason ignores the greater realities of participation in covert attacks; not only would those insiders with knowledge of the attacks have more than enough reason to stay silent out of direct self-interest (i.e. to avoid prosecution), but the disparate elements of, say, Pakistani, Israeli, and Saudi “intelligence” forces would provide a mutually enforcing network of silence. These organizations would have ample motive for silencing any rogues in their midst to protect themselves from being implicated in the attacks, not to mention the fact that a failure to silence any leaks would be an invitation for intervention by one of the other conspiring parties, and possibly a more permanent loss of power.

      The idea that a whistle blower would have tried to come out publicly by now ignores the fact that covert agencies make a habit of terminating potential leaks before they can communicate with the public. Of course these murders are themselves generally covered up, so who knows how many may have taken place in the wake of 9/11?? There were at least 3 murders of Saudi officials likely to have taken part in facilitating the attacks; according to D.R. Griffin’s The New Pearl Harbor (pp. 78-79), a March 2002 interrogation session, aided by sodium pentathol, of Abu Zubaydah yielded the claim that Zubaydah, as an “Al Qaeda” member, was working directly for Prince Ahmed bin Salmen. Zubaydah also supplied phone numbers of 2 other Saudis who could confirm his claim, Prince Sultan bin Faisal and Prince Fahd bin Turki. Fast forward to July 22nd of ’02, and 43 year old Prince Ahmed is dead of “heart attack” at age 43. July 23rd, Prince Sultan dies in a 1-car auto accident. July 30th, 21 year old Prince Fahd dies of thirst!

      Anyway, without rambling any more, I certainly agree with the premise of a multi-agency attack (and am even willing to entertain the idea that Mossad’s destruction of the WTC was an unforeseen “piggy back” on the central plot). The idea that there must be a single group or planner to point fingers at is simply to ignore the scope and complexity of the attacks. But you, dotmafia, forget one of the most important groups involved in the attacks: the Pentagon brass (NORAD) and DoD officials that insured the violation of protocol which allowed the planes to reach their targets, and who had in advance of the attacks quashed the Able Danger project, which had already identified in advance at least a few of the eventually alleged hijackers and whose investigators had been silenced when attempting to bring the information to the FBI for the appropriate counter-terrorism law enforcement procedures. And of course who planned the confusing, radar-manipulating Vigilant Guardian exercises you mentioned. It seems to my mind that, aside from the connection to the patsy Bin Laden, the US military and DoD neocons (not to mention the VP’s office) may have had more to do with the attacks than the CIA itself.

  19. mike123 says:

    CIA withholding in relation to al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar started in January of 2000. So to pin all the weird conduct on the Bush administration is not accurate. Clarke was a bigshot at the time. He and Tenet are two of the key officials who made the transition from Clinton to Bush.

    If Tenet’s CIA was so on the ball then why did they withhold information about al Qaeda operatives inside the US? Wright described CIA conduct in relation to the Cole investigation as “tantamount to obstruction of justice.” The guy who oversaw all the withholding (from mid ’99 on)–Richard Blee–was promoted after 9/11! To date, his 9/11 Commission MFR (in addition to Scheuer’s) is pending classification review.

  20. dotmafia says:

    ‘War on terror’ is a catchphrase too which isn’t any more credible than ‘inside job’.

    You have simplified your criticism of ignored warnings equaling an inside job. Warnings could have been purposely ignored by the government because they had foreknowledge of the coming attack and allowing it to happen. It’s no great stretch of the mind to believe that persons or groups within the U.S. government helped al Qaeda to carry out their plan through proxy individuals in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, and Bin Laden wouldn’t even know about it. For instance, ask yourself why the date of 9/11? Why that particular DATE and not the day before, or the day after? For one thing, U.S. war games were planned for that day. It could not have been a grand co-incidence. How did al Qaeda find out about those planned war games to be able to choose that day? Well, we know that lead hijacker Mohammed Atta did not himself choose the date of the attack, and neither did Bin Laden for that matter. The date of the attack was given to Atta in late August 2001. Who by? Probably the head of the Pakistani ISI, Lieut-Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, who had been meeting with the CIA’s Tenet and US Congressional members in the weeks before the attack. I’m not aware how secret the pre-planned war games Vigilant Guardian and others were, but if it was highly classified info then somehow al Qaeda found out about it.

  21. AlexS says:

    And to tie this all back to the actual topic at hand, let’s not forget who authored Mark Thiessen’s (and all neocons’) favorite fiction: Khalid Sheik Mohammed, assisted by the waterboard, and edited by Zelikow, Rice, Cheney, Addington, and Rove.

    Not only is the torture inhumane, illegal, and arbitrarily applied, it has also been used to provide the bulk of the moronic official mythology of 9/11. Sure, it was certainly also used to try to link Iraq to Al-CIAda, but unlike those ineffective attempts, the use of “evidence” obtained by torture as regards the planning and commission of the 9/11 attacks has been all too successful in providing a simple, easy-to-swallow narrative that has been accepted not just by chickenhawking, anti-Muslim bigots, but by Democrats, and ostensible liberals and progressives alike.

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