Feinstein and Levin: Hassan Ghul Revealed Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti’s Role, and Then We Tortured Him
Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin have released a statement that basically says Jose Rodriguez’ Big Boy Pants are on fire for the lies he has told about the torture program.
The statement is interesting for two reasons. First, it gets closer and closer to saying that the torture program was successful primarily in eliciting false confessions.
Further, it’s worth repeating, as discussed in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s 2008 report, the SERE techniques used in the CIA’s interrogation program were never intended to be used by U.S. interrogators. Rather, the techniques – which are based on Communist Chinese interrogation techniques used during the Korean War to elicit false confessions – were developed to expose U.S. soldiers to the abusive treatment they might be subjected to if captured by our enemies. An overwhelming number of experts agree, the SERE techniques are not an effective means to illicit accurate information. [my emphasis]
It’s really time for them to be as clear as their leaking aides are in saying, anonymously, that the torture program got–and was designed to get–false confessions.
Hopefully, as Jose Rodriguez’ torture tour continues, they’ll get over this reticence.
The statement also confirms what was described in this AP report: that the CIA detainee who provided the most important intelligence leading to Osama bin Laden–who has been reported as Hassan Ghul–did so before we tortured him.
The CIA detainee who provided the most significant information about the courier provided the information prior to being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques.
So we tortured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and he gave up invented locations for OBL (while hiding the courier). But we got key evidence from Ghul that might have led to OBL and … we tortured him anyway.
I wonder how many books Rodriguez is going to sell claiming that this program was effective?
I just came here from firedoglake and reading David Swanson’s diary on Sibel Edmonds:
And thinking too about Jeff Kaye’s report not so long ago about [Iron Man?] — a military intelligence unit that was tasked with following Osama bin Laden and was trying to report intelligence about him prior to 9/11 but was shut down — and then later their evidence to Congress was mangled and squelched? And FBI Ali Soufan, crying when 9/11 happened and he was finally handed information from the CIA that he had been requesting over and over about a key meeting.
Come on. No one accountable wanted Osama bin Laden stopped. They needed that event and that villain. And then they needed “intelligence” beyond evidence. Because evidence is something you use in court, and that wasn’t the plan. They needed unaddressable fear and authority beyond anything the Constitution’s checks and balances could handle.
@thatvisionthing: And, if the powers that be did deliberately allow 9/11 to happen, the decision to torture — so very soon after 9/11 — makes a lot more sense. They needed to make sure they could control the narrative, so that people would not realize that they had allowed 9/11 to happen.
From a long comment I left earlier: http://www.emptywheel.net/2012/04/03/the-national-security-committee-knew-they-were-going-to-get-false-confessions-from-torture/#comment-343756
Craig Murray, who was the British ambassador to Uzbekistan in 2002-3, saw American intelligence reports, recognized that it was based on torture and false to boot, and tried to stop British complicity, tried to blow the whistle. It cost him his career.
In testimony to Parliament three years ago (transcript at http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/Uncorrected%20Transcript%2028%20April%2009.doc), he said this:
And at a speech in Berlin earlier this year he made the point that what freaked them out was not so much that he was bringing attention to torture, but that he was saying the intelligence WASN’T TRUE:
@thatvisionthing: I believe this is Jason Leopold and Jeff Kaye’s Iron Man article that I read, but several other results show up on search too.
quite a bit there
@thatvisionthing: Don’t forget LCOL Anthony Shaffer’s claims about his Able Danger operation.
Thinking again about other comments I’ve left, about Detainee 001 — John Walker Lindh — and what his dad had to say on Democracy Now, about Donald Rumsfeld’s “Take the gloves off” order:
and what Frank Lindh had to say earlier in a 2006 speech, that they tortured someone who was already willing to tell them anything he knew:
@lysias: They needed a show and they scripted one.
Was thinking about what Lawrence Wilkerson said on Antiwar Radio about Rumsfeld and Rove and why we kept hundreds of innocent prisoners in Gitmo even though we knew they weren’t terrorists: Because Rumsfeld didn’t want to admit we made mistakes, and because Rove wanted orange jumpsuit terror theater. I think I gave the fullest Wilkerson quote here ( http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2011/02/21/who-was-and-was-not-in-on-rummys-plan/#comment-275972 ) — and in light of the 2008 SASC report DiFi and Carl Levin refer to above, the comment below that is worth revisiting, Jeff Kaye’s question to Carl Levin about December 2001 SERE documents that were referenced in testimony but then disappeared? I hope Jeff Kaye stops by here, he would be able to tell us what that story is and whether those docs ever showed up.
And here’s another comment I left earlier about that terror theater — http://my.firedoglake.com/valtin/2010/09/15/whats-up-with-transparency-government-hid-report-on-drugging-of-detainees-for-months/#comment-44 — I seem to think in a nest of linking facets, find one and you see the bigger picture in the facets around it. In this one, powwow’s comment directly above mine is right on target, how detainees and their lawyers are kept from communicating with the world and even with each other — no unallowable knowledge allowed. And how to get rich, convincing false testimony.
Also, the idea that the interrogations were scripted to get the desired story, I was thinking how the CIA’s code name for Cheney was Edgar, as in the ventriloquist Edgar Bergen. When ex-CIA Glenn Carle had his book salon at FDL, I asked him who wrote the interrogation scripts, and he answered: http://fdlbooksalon.com/2011/07/09/fdl-book-salon-welcomes-glenn-carle-author-of-the-interrogator-an-education/#comment-2207982
You got that right EW!
And they said the same about Mikey Hayden and Mikey Mukasey.
On a side note, I am so tired of Freinstein, Levin and others repeating the old canard that the SERE techniques were based on Chinese Communist torture to produce false confessions from Korean War prisoners. The historical record, as written contemporaneously by Albert Biderman, Robert Jay Lifton, and Edgar Schein, shows Chinese interrogation techniques were based on group pressures and not physical torture. Psychological forms of coercion were used, but most of those used by SERE came from Stalin’s camps, as well as “ordinary” police abuses through the ages, as Biderman pointed out.
Nor were the supposedly false confessions of the airmen that testified to US use of biological weapons in the Korean conflict actually false, as a number of historical observers now admit.
The top secret origins of the US coercive interrogation research and operations program is still shrouded in some secrecy, particularly on the DoD side. I recently discovered that a Russian NTS leader (NTS famously collaborated with the Nazis in occupied Russia) taught interrogation resistance to US officers at Georgetown Univ. in the early 1950s, before, it seems, the institution of the survival school (later called SERE) programs. The latter were sites of CIA behavioral research (as I’ve documented in the case of Harry Harlow and Louis West’s DDD paper on breaking down prisoners.
@thatvisionthing: I appreciate Edmond’s comments on the Fethullah Gülen and the various axes of power both pre and post 9/11. It also seems the “Gulens” have been successful getting support from a number of politicians in the US.
@Jeff Kaye: Hi Jeff, good to see you here. Did you see my question for you in #7? Did the actual December 2001 documents ever get released, or does that matter? I see they’re referred to in the SASC report, so that part of the narrative wasn’t lost.
@thatvisionthing: Thanks for remembering all that. The only relevant document released by the SASC was the fax cover sheet for the Dec. 17, 2001 “exploitation” document Lt. Col. Dan Bumgarner of JPRA sent to Dan Shiffrin in the Office of the Secty of Defense, General Counsel. The actual document (5 or 6 pgs.) is still classified.
The description of the document Bumgarner sent is in the SASC final report:
your comment on the origins of sere is very interesting.
there are however two messages here:
– one involving the origins of u.s. coercive interrogation tactics,
– the other, by far the more important message politically at this time, is that the interrogation techniques the parts of the american gov’t used on gwot detainees was intended to elicit false confessions
which were, in turn, intended to be used as justificatory propaganda by cheney-bush-rumsfeld.
@Jeff Kaye: Well, if the ultimate source of the techniques was Soviet rather than Chinese Communist, it’s well known how Stalin’s secret police used torture and other kinds of pressure to coerce false confessions.
@Jeff Kaye: Thanks for that clarification. One needn’t have read only the reporting of Wilfred Burchett to realize that the Shirley Templeish US version of its conduct in the Korean “police action” did not match its actions on the ground. It experimented there, too, and lied, notwithstanding the significant sacrifices of its men and women in country.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012 10:12 AM MDT
Since bin Laden’s death
The War on Terror and its various civil liberties assaults have escalated, not been reversed or even slowed down
“Does it sound like the War on Terror and its accompanying civil liberties erosions are ending, or going in the opposite direction? The morning after the bin Laden killing, I wrote that the killing of bin Laden would likely re-ignite American excitement over militarism and would thus likely further fuel, rather than retard, the War and its various implications. As always: combatting Terrorism is not the end of the War on Terror; the War on Terror is the end in itself, and Terrorism is merely its pretext.”