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Focusing on the Big Stuff

There's so much movement on the torture front these days that it's hard to keep track. It also can be hard to distinguish between what has long-term significance and what doesn't.

A big media focus today is on whether President Obama's reversed himself on Tuesday when he said he is not opposed to some "further accounting of what took place during this period" and said he could not rule out criminal prosecution for senior officials. There's also a lot of attention on whether Obama has lost control of the message.

No one will remember either of these issues a few days from now. What is significant, however, is that the idea of launching some sort of investigation into torture and other abuses committed by the Bush administration is now very much back on the national agenda. So which way should we go? It's an exciting debate we have ahead of us.

Also significant is yesterday's release of a new official timeline establishing that waterboarding, which is nearly universally considered to be torture, was explicitly approved by senior White House officials in the summer of 2002.

But to me, the most significant news of the day can be found on today's New York Times op-ed page, where former FBI supervisor Ali Soufan persuasively and memorably rebuts the misinformation being spread by those complicit in torture.

A question from a reader in my live chat yesterday helped me clarify my own response to the dead-enders, led by former vice president Dick Cheney, who insist that what they call "enhanced interrogation techniques" averted further terrorist attacks.

The point is this: Any assertions from these people should presumptively be considered misinformation. These are the same people who lied to us over and over again about the reasons for going to war, about the war, about our entire detainee policy (remember: "we don't torture"?) -- and about who was responsible for the endemic abuse.

As most of us recoiled with horror over the soulessnes of the legal memos released last week and their repulsive attempts to rationalize the indefensible, it was easy to overlook how much of what the lawyers said they'd been told by the CIA was lies.

Among the many lies that jumped out for me, but hasn't gotten attention, was the CIA's assurance to Justice Department lawyers, quoted in the August 1, 2002, memo that Abu Zubaida, the first detainee to be tortured by direct order of the White House, was mentally healthy enough to be able to withstand waterboarding and the like without any long-term mental health effects.

Here's what the memo said, documenting the CIA's recitation of facts: "Through reading his diaries and interviewing him, you have found no history of 'mood disturbance or other psychiatric pathology[,]' 'thought disorder[,] ... enduring mood or mental health problems.' He is in fact 'remarkably resilient and confident that he can overcome adversity.'"

And yet, according to investigative reporter Ron Suskind, in his book The One Percent Doctrine, Zubaida was overtly mentally ill. In fact, in that diary the CIA mentioned, Zubaida "wrote of his exploits in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" -- a boy, a young man and a middle-aged man, Suskind wrote. He also quoted the FBI's top al Qaeda analyst as saying: "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."

Anyhow, so along comes Soufan, who shares his first-hand knowledge of the interrogations.

"One of the most striking parts of the memos is the false premises on which they are based," he writes. The first, dated August 2002, grants authorization to use harsh interrogation techniques on a high-ranking terrorist, Abu Zubaydah, on the grounds that previous methods hadn't been working. The next three memos cite the successes of those methods as a justification for their continued use.

"It is inaccurate, however, to say that Abu Zubaydah had been uncooperative. Along with another F.B.I. agent, and with several C.I.A. officers present, I questioned him from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August. Under traditional interrogation methods, he provided us with important actionable intelligence.....

"There was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn't, or couldn't have been, gained from regular tactics. In addition, I saw that using these alternative methods on other terrorists backfired on more than a few occasions — all of which are still classified. The short sightedness behind the use of these techniques ignored the unreliability of the methods, the nature of the threat, the mentality and modus operandi of the terrorists, and due process.

"Defenders of these techniques have claimed that they got Abu Zubaydah to give up information leading to the capture of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a top aide to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and [Jose] Padilla. This is false. The information that led to Mr. Shibh's capture came primarily from a different terrorist operative who was interviewed using traditional methods. As for Mr. Padilla, the dates just don't add up: the harsh techniques were approved in the memo of August 2002, Mr. Padilla had been arrested that May."

Soufan concludes: "It was the right decision to release these memos, as we need the truth to come out. This should not be a partisan matter, because it is in our national security interest to regain our position as the world's foremost defenders of human rights. Just as important, releasing these memos enables us to begin the tricky process of finally bringing these terrorists to justice."

Scott Shane writes in the New York Times: "Senior Bush administration officials, led by Vice President Dick Cheney and cheered by many Congressional Republicans, are fighting a rear-guard action in defense of their record. Only by using the harshest methods, they insist, did the intelligence agency get the information it needed to round up Qaeda killers and save thousands of American lives.

"Even President Obama's new director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, wrote in a memorandum to his staff last week that 'high value information came from interrogations in which these methods were used,' an assertion left out when the memorandum was edited for public release. By contrast, Mr. Obama and most of his top aides have argued that the use of those methods betrayed American values — and anyway, produced unreliable information. Those are a convenient pair of opinions, of course: the moral balancing would be far trickier if the C.I.A. methods were demonstrated to have been crucial in disrupting major plots."

I disagree: The moral balancing isn't the least bit tricky if torture didn't work. In fact, in that case, there's no argument at all. Even if it did "work," of course, there are plenty of reasons to oppose it. But this is why Cheney is trying so desperately to keep his argument alive; if he concedes it, it would be like forfeiting the whole game.

Shane also points out, by the way, that the CIA apparently didn't give traditional interrogation much if any time to work on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. "The memorandum says that 'before the C.I.A. used enhanced techniques,' Mr. Mohammed 'resisted giving any answers to questions about future attacks, 'Simply noting, "Soon, you will know." '

"But the same memorandum reveals in a footnote that Mr. Mohammed, captured on March 1, 2003, was waterboarded 183 times that month. That striking number, which would average out to six waterboardings a day, suggests that interrogators did not try a traditional, rapport-building approach for long before escalating to their most extreme tool."

Meanwhile, R. Jeffrey Smith and Peter Finn write in The Washington Post about a new timeline released by the Senate intelligence committee last night.

"Condoleezza Rice, John D. Ashcroft and other top Bush administration officials approved as early as the summer of 2002 the CIA's use of harsh interrogation methods on detainees at secret prisons, including waterboarding...

"At a time when the Justice Department is deciding whether former officials who set interrogation policy or formulated the legal justifications for it should be investigated for possible crimes, the new timeline lists at least a dozen members of the Bush administration who were present when the CIA's director or others explained exactly which questioning techniques were to be used and how those sessions proceeded....

"After the leak in 2005 of a Justice Department memo that narrowly defined the type of activity that would constitute torture, Rice traveled to Europe in an effort to quell the international uproar. As her trip was getting underway, she said: 'The United States government does not authorize or condone torture of detainees. Torture, and conspiracy to commit torture, are crimes under U.S. law, wherever they may occur in the world.'"

And there's an awful lot being written on how all this effects Obama.

Dan Balz and Perry Bacon Jr. write in The Washington Post: "The legacy of George W. Bush continued to dog President Obama and his administration yesterday, as Congress divided over creating a panel to investigate the harsh interrogation techniques employed under Bush's authorization and the White House tried to contain the controversy over the president's decision to release Justice Department memos justifying and outlining those procedures....

"Obama has drawn sharp criticism from former vice president Richard B. Cheney, former CIA directors and Republican elected officials for releasing the memos. Those critics see softness in the commander in chief. He faces equally strong reaction from the left, where there is a desire to punish Bush administration officials for their actions and to conduct a more thorough investigation of what happened.....

"Obama apparently believed he could avoid what is now playing out." But now, Obama and his aides "have been drawn into a debate they did not foresee. The president has a full plate, domestically and internationally. He had hoped that, in winning the election and moving quickly to change his predecessor's policies, he could close the books on Bush's presidency.

"Instead, he has found in his first months how difficult that is. Hopes for an immediate change in tone have withered. Republican opposition to his economic policies remains nearly unanimous. With this latest controversy, he is learning that neither the opponents nor the defenders of Bush's presidency are ready to move on."

John Dickerson writes for Slate: "It may be time for an Obama do-over speech on the issue of torture. It's a form we've come to recognize—whether on the issue of bonuses for AIG executives or his relationship with his former pastor. He makes a declaration, the issue gets away from him, the political pressure builds, and he must rush in with a new declaration to contain the fallout."

Howard Fineman writes for Newsweek: "His response has been halting and hesitant. His message has been uncharacteristically muddied. And he is paying the price, at least in terms of message control."

Howard Kurtz writes for The Washington Post: "President Obama, who has called for looking forward, not backward, now finds himself in the situation he had hoped to avoid. By first ruling out and then opening the door to prosecuting officials from the previous administration, Obama has triggered political passions on both sides. At a time when his focus ought to be on the moribund banking system and the ailing economy, he has unleashed a furious debate about the past."

Sam Youngman writes for the Hill: "The day after opening a can of worms by saying he is open to a truth commission to investigate the authors of the controversial Bush-era enhanced interrogation memos, the White House stressed Wednesday that President Obama is neither proposing nor initiating those proceedings or the formation of a truth commission.

"White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, talking to reporters aboard Air Force One as the president traveled to Iowa, said any decision to prosecute the authors of the legal memos would come from the Justice Department and 'it has to be done outside of the realm of politics.'"

Stephen Collinson writes for AFP: "Gibbs said flatly that a flurry of news reports proclaiming the administration had switched course on delving further into those behind methods like near drowning, or waterboarding, were wrong....

"The spokesman also rejected calls by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for the appointment of an independent prosecutor to probe the torture issue.

"'The lawyers that are involved are plenty capable of determining whether any law has been broken,' Gibbs said."

For what it's worth, I have a fairly benign explanation for the ostensible reversal, as I articulated yesterday in my live chat.

Here's my guess. Obama has no appetite for "looking backward" as he has so much on his plate "looking forward." So he was never going to be the guy pushing for an investigation. On the other hand, he wasn't going to be the guy who actually blocked an investigation, either.

He thought he had found an acceptable compromise by releasing memos he was indeed morally bound to release, while making clear that the front-line guys who did what they were told was legal wouldn't be prosecuted. This was clever because the advocates of prosecution are focusing their efforts much higher up the chain of command.

Then, I think, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel stepped on it. His statement on a Sunday talk show indicated that all prosecutions were off the table. Not only was that not Obama's view, but it's not the White House's call to make. It's the Justice Department's. Then Gibbs, who lest we forget reports to Obama through Emanuel, chose not to disagree publicly with his boss.

At that point, Obama had no choice but to clarify a position that he had been trying to leave vague.

Meanwhile, Sam Stein writes for Huffingtonpost.com: "The central debate dominating discussions of a possible investigation into torture by the Bush administration seems to have shifted sharply in the past few days: from whether such an investigation should take place, to now what form it will have when it comes."

So what are the options? There's remarkably little discussion of that in the mainstream press. Although CQ notes that "Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy said Wednesday that if Republicans do not back an independent commission to investigate the George W. Bush administration's detainee interrogation program, he will launch a committee probe.

"'If we can't get a bipartisan commission to do this then we'll do it in the usual way,' Leahy said."

The New York Times editorial board writes: "When he was vice president, Dick Cheney never acknowledged the public's right to know anything. Now, suddenly, he has the full disclosure bug....

"Mr. Cheney claims that the waterboarding saved thousands of lives. Most accounts that don't come from officials involved in the formation of those policies suggest that that is not the case. The question needs to be answered so Americans can decide if they want to buy into Mr. Cheney's view that the ends always justify such barbaric means."

Gary Kamiya writes for Salon that torture can work -- but is still always wrong.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes: "Mark down the date. Tuesday, April 21, 2009, is the moment that any chance of a new era of bipartisan respect in Washington ended. By inviting the prosecution of Bush officials for their antiterror legal advice, President Obama has injected a poison into our politics that he and the country will live to regret."

And CNN host Ed Schultz, via Daily Kos, argues: "I think that Dick Cheney wants this country to get hit again for political gain...I think Cheney is that mean."

By Dan Froomkin  |  April 23, 2009; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Looking Backward , Torture  
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Next: Bush Is the Wrong Role Model

Comments

"President Obama has injected a poison into our politics that he and the country will live to regret."

That poison was injected by the Republican Party over the last 8 years.

A blatant lie by the Wall Street Journal to pass the blame and avoid responsibility.

Posted by: vigor | April 23, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

The moral balancing isn't the least bit tricky if torture didn't work. In fact, in that case, there's no argument at all. Even if it did "work," of course, there are plenty of reasons to oppose it.
------

I like how you hedge your bets Froomkin.

Its funny to see that over the past week or so your position has gone from “It didn’t work” to “even if it did work its still wrong”.

The average American doesn’t give a rat's rear if KSM was waterboarded 10, 100, or 10,000 times. If it stopped a potential attack the vast majority of Americans have no problem with it. That’s the reality you continually refuse to accept.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | April 23, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Mark the date. Tuesday, April 21, 2009 is the date a group of right wing extremists became outraged at the partisanship of the other side. This date is significant because it is the day after they became outraged at the partisanship of the Obama admin. and also the day after the previous date they became... Who cares? Why do they even need to publish anymore?

Posted by: Hebephrene | April 23, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

froomkin, you are the king of misinformation! Waterboarding is not universally considered torture - you and others like you think that it is, but a similar number of folks don't think it is.

Will you want Pelosi and others in Congress prosecuted since they were briefed about all methods of interrogation at least 30 times? No, I doubt you will get off your "i hate bush" horse long enough to call her out as well. Partisan hack, that's all you are.

Posted by: trjn30 | April 23, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I watched Countdown last night and a federal prosecutor said we should proceed slowly with an independent special prosecutor, citing the Scooter Libby case. Once the special prosecutor was appointed everyone shut up, citing an ongoing investigation. Libby fell on the sword for Dick Cheney and we never did find out Cheney's involvement. I say let Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld and ilk get on Fox Noise and keep running there mouths. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

Keep up the good work Dan. There may be some US citizens that condone torture in there name but this veteran does not. As Pogo said "We have meet the enemy and it is us".

Posted by: respect1 | April 23, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"So which way should we go? It's an exciting debate we have ahead of us."

Hopefully the DoJ will make the right call any time now, obviating the need for any further prattle. I am especially tired of hearing whether or not torture works debated.

Posted by: fzdybel | April 23, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Judging by the increasingly shrill tone of the resident trolls, I'd say the appropriate nerve has been struck on this topic. You can tell when they're really riled up because they angrily accuse the left of having all the right's worst qualities even more often than usual. See trjn30 for instance - he's already conveniently forgotten that it's conservatives who refrain from criticizing their own at all costs. They can't even criticize their own entertainment figures without having to apologize profusely. Laughable little dying party.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | April 23, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

As the truth comes out, many will have red faces. However, President Obama and the legion that believe that torture is torture and should not be used will have no reason for regrets either now or in the future. When I stand before God in the final accounting of my life, I'll not have to defend myself on this one. All of us were created in God's image. He allows us to use appropriate punishments to maintain a civil society. If torture should be defined as punishment, then it should be applied after a trial. Even our worst criminals are not subjected to torture to force confessions, otherwise the confession is thrown out of court. Even threats made that force confessions are hard to justify.

As for those in the religious right who see no wrong with torturing our enemies, they are wrong in their view. A Christian cannot have this view and follow the words of Jesus. Let those who believe in torture move to China, Cuba, Somalia, or other like place where their views agree with established policies. You see, many of these same people do not view the dragging of an underpriviledged person behind a pickup truck to his death as cruel. America has lowered itself to a depth that requires a lot of what President Obama is doing on his trips to rectify. Had President Obama not released the memos, many would still believe that we did not torture. Even with the memos, many people have said some hateful things to support their views.

Posted by: EarlC | April 23, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

The majority of Americans do not believe the lies of people who now claim that torture is the only way to gain valuable information from prisoners. Shame upon those of us who are morally bankrupt and who stand for nothing. Cowards are what we call people who abandon their values because they're afraid.

Posted by: sonny2 | April 23, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I agree with vigor... if this issue...torture... "poisons" our politics, then the culpable poisoners are those who authorized the torture, not those who denounce it.

Posted by: Observer44 | April 23, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"froomkin, you are the king of misinformation! Waterboarding is not universally considered torture - you and others like you think that it is, but a similar number of folks don't think it is.

Will you want Pelosi and others in Congress prosecuted since they were briefed about all methods of interrogation at least 30 times? No, I doubt you will get off your "i hate bush" horse long enough to call her out as well. Partisan hack, that's all you are."

I'm not sure who is part of this "similar number" that believe waterboarding is not torture, but certainly they are not on the courts, both U.S. and foreign, which have judged waterboarding to be torture, nor are they FBI agents who refused to cooperate in these activities, nor are they among those who, were these methods used on Americans, would be screaming bloody murder about our enemies' cruelty.
Oh, and now that we know much more about these methods, is it not time to reconsider how Charles Graner and Lynndie England were judged for their actions at Abu Ghraib? They seem to have been mimicking what was officially sanctioned. At worst, they were encouraged to help soften up prisoners. At the time, those who knew much better about how we officially sanctioned what they did and worse, called them a few "bad apples." Turns out the roots of that tree were rotten.

Posted by: gratianus | April 23, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

To SharpshootingPugilist:

The great majority of Americans don't agree with you barbarians. Let's face it, you are exactly the same as Bin Laden, just American.

As a veteran, I'm insulted that you don't think our military is capable of defending us according to the civilized behavior dictated by the Geneva Conventions.

To trjn30 - waterboarding is universally considered torture by all civilized peoples. That's why it's forbidden in the Geneva Convenions. It is not condemned by
Al Queda
Iran
Republicans.

Nice friends. It hasn't saved any livess - every intelligent person knows that (go ahead quote Bush and Cheney to the contrary - I said intelligent people) it's the reason people want to kill YOU and your ilk. The rest of us are the bystanders you endanger.

Posted by: bflorhodes | April 23, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Ahhh Respect... you are one of the very few who watch Countdown to No Ratings.

Posted by: alutz08 | April 23, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I agree with sonny2. Let me restate what he has said: you know the real character of a person when you find out how that person reacts to an adverse situation. Our government under Bush showed a total lack of character when we buckled to political fear to justify torture. You have to admit that our government failed to act on intelligence received before 9/11 and the actions on 9/11 were pathetic. Just go back and look at Bush sitting before those children when he got the news. Count those very long seconds. Then where was he for three days? Incompetence in action!

Posted by: EarlC | April 23, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

By the way, it cannot be overstated that the reason for torture is becoming very clear. It was not to get information to stop future attacks. It was to force a statement that al Qaeda and Hussein were acting together on 9/11. Basically, the Bush administration was looking for justification to start a war with Iraq. This is the short and simple reason.

However, if the truth comes out in all of its detail, there will still be about 25% of the American public who will believe that the truth is a left-wing conspiracy. It is amazing that our legal system works as well as it does, when one thinks about it.

Posted by: EarlC | April 23, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Great job with that Ali Soufan op-ed. I will be forwarding it to some of my right-wing Obama haters. But they probably won't read it, since it didn't come from Fox. Looks like some of your right-wing commentors didn't even read it either, as they are still claiming torture saved America. I am another veteran who knows the importance of the Geneva Conventions and our Constitution and hopes those who perpetuated these war crimes are brought to justice.

Posted by: cpusss | April 23, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

EarlC...

when incompetence... don't you mean that you don't think for yourself and would rather Michael Moore spoonfeed you opinions and mis-information.

Grow some gray matter and comeback later.

Posted by: alutz08 | April 23, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Cheney is trying so desperately to keep his argument alive because he's painted himself into a corner.

His repeated assertions (along with Shrub and the rest of the torture administration) that torture saved innocent lives, every time he made them, undermined his other claim that it wasn't torture. If it wasn't torture, why do we need results to justify it? If it wasn't torture, why did Dick's cries grow increasingly shrill that it got results?

The American people have figured that one out. The argument is simple "the ends justify the means" and it's already conceded that the means were torture. That leaves Dick and the torture crowd with only one defense: it got results.

Of course, when you look at the records, the results were unimpressive, never coming close to what Dick claimed. Some results are spectacular backfiring: sending emergency crews on wild goose chases against threats that never existed. Or costing thousands of American lives in Iraq: almost half of all troops killed there were killed by foreign fighters to went to Iraq because of Abu Ghraib, according to one senior military officer.

But it gets worse for Dick. We now know that we were getting results without torture, good results, life-saving results. His "end justifies the means" not only falls apart when you look at the means, but also the ends.

That's why Dick is so shrill these days. And so laughable: he has evidence, but you can't see it. He so wishes you could, but you can't. You just have to trust him.

Say what? Trust the guy who said the war would soon be over, that it would cost us little or nothing, that it was just a few dead-enders, that Saddam was scheming with bin Laden, that there were WMD in Iraq? If that guy said it was raining out, would you get your umbrella? Bet you'd check first.

And that's why Dick's game is up. The American people have seen through his lies. And they don't like what they see.

Posted by: jpk1 | April 23, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that Obama’s actions up until now seemed to be protecting the Bushies, yet they criticized him relentlessly so when he stopped protecting them nothing really changed except their main focus is now directed toward protecting the former president and his people in addition to attacking Obama. But one thing we as a public have been misled about for eight years, that the Bushies seem to have never understood is that the Justice department should be independent from the White House and not working for the White House. That Justice is the peoples lawyer, not the president’s. So when Obama deferred to justice he was actually doing the right thing. It really should be up to justice to make the call. And everyone needs to remember that no investigation (legal) has occurred and no charges have been brought…yet.

And the WSJ needs to take a flying leap. Bi-Partisanship? They need to explain exactly how the republicans have reached out to any of the overtures made by President Obama.

SSP What if these people were tortured just because the VP and his crew simply wanted to punish them? They simply wanted to torture them? What if?

TRJN30 you are correct that waterboarding is not universally considered torture. 30% of the people in our country, which amounts to a little over 1% of the worlds population do not believe it is torture.

Posted by: m_mcmahon | April 23, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Stooping to torture with the lame excuses and incompetent legal papers written to provide cover was an embarrassment. What we lost over that may never be recovered from. That those at the top will never be called to take responsibilty for their acts.
Will the lie of " A few bad apples" be put to rest at last?
What I fear most in the coming years is what may happen to any of our troops that are captured. Will they under go the same treatment or worse?
God help us!

Posted by: nstein1 | April 23, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

This sentence from the Ali Soufan article, if true, says a lot about the utter incomeptance of the Bush adminsitration...

"An F.B.I. colleague of mine who knew more about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed than anyone in the government was not allowed to speak to him."

Posted by: m_mcmahon | April 23, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

m_mcmahon: 30% of US citizens believe in UFOs, and more than that believe the world is less than 10,000 years old.

Posted by: whizbang9a | April 23, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

The torture apologists love to compare waterboarding of detainees to experiments done to American volunteers as part of their training.
That's apples to oranges and has no relevance. If you can't see the difference on a person's psyche, especially in cases of multiple occurrences, there's no hope for you.
Americans intentionally and cruelly drove people crazy during this torture.

Posted by: bdunn1 | April 23, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

The whole "works/didn't work" argument is totally irrelevant. Whether it "worked" or not, torture is still illegal and specifically banned by the U.S. Constitution, U.S. federal law, international law and treaties, not to mention the human conscience. The media can't decide which laws should be obeyed based on discussions of the moment.

In one area, torture works: to obtain false confessions. And according to McClatchy News Service (see rawstory.com), that is exactly what Cheney was looking for. With the WMD canard blowing up in his face, he was trying to torture "confessions" out of innocent detainees that they had ties to Saddam Hussein.

Posted by: motorfriend | April 23, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

The FBI recently lost a million dollar lawsuit for torturing Kenny Trentadue to death in a Federal prison.
His brother, attorney Jesse Trentadue obtained FBI documents during the trial showing FBI agents were communicating with
Timothy McVeigh weeks before the Oklahoma City bombing.
Attorney Trentadue has obtained a court order that will allow him to take a video deposition from Terry Nichols, serving a life sentence in a Federal prison for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing.
Nichols has identified FBI agent Larry Potts as Timothy McVeighs' FBI handler before the Oklahoma City bombing.
google
nichols potts trentadue berger

Posted by: mabumford | April 23, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

SharpshootingPugilist:
"I like how you hedge your bets Froomkin."

Better work on your reading comprehension. Dan hasn't "changed his position" on whether it works on not, he's responding to Shane of the NYT, who was saying that would matter.

It doesn't matter, which is why you won't catch me arguing with tinpot Torquemadas like you or Cheney about that. Either way, it's destructive to our values, to our standing in the world, to the effectiveness of all other means of influence we have in the world. It's destructive to military discipline, and to those who are ordered to participate in it. It's counter-productive in the broad sense, un-American, morally offensive, and illegal according to duly enacted laws of the land.

Before the argument even can get to then the matter of effectiveness, you have to be willing to ignore all of those, and that puts you well outside the boundaries of civilized behavior, even in a time of war.

Posted by: jimeh | April 23, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

"President Obama has injected a poison into our politics that he and the country will live to regret."

I can't find the words to express how totally irrelevant the Wall Street Journal's editorial page has become. Or the entire right wing, for that matter. They've always been a little nutty but lately they've transformed into a traveling carnival.

When the Bush White House's surrogates were busily impugning the patriotism of fellow Americans who weren't on board with their fool's rush into Iraq, was there any concern at the WSJ about poison in politics?

When Republicans were distracting Clinton from the bin Laden threat with their Whitewater witch hunt, were any breathless editorials about hyperpartisanship published within its hallowed editorial pages?

WSJ = Chicken Little.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | April 23, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

The only reason I could see the reasoning behind calling them harsh interogation techiniques versus torture. There needs to be some sort of differeniator between what people commonly associated with torture and this.

These guys were not tortured like the Japanese and Vietmaneese did to POWs. They were not beaten, eletrocuted, castrated, have appendages removed, bones broken, or have objects shoved into cavities or under fingernails. Those techniques were designed to use pain or the absence of pain as a motivation to speak.

What was used here, waterbaording, sleep deprivation, hot and cold enviromentals, noises, and lighting conditions were designed to put the person in a mental state where they would start talking without knowing where they were or who they were talking to.

While I won't argue (and I will ignore the comments of other posters that insisit on arguing with me) the ethics of whether or not the later constitutes torture, I do believe it is important to draw the distinction.

Posted by: akmzrazor | April 23, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Don't respond to the trolls, at least not directly. Pugi knows what he read, but he wouldn't have had an argument without twisting Dan's words to the breaking point. He and the others aren't here to learn something or better themselves; they're just here to agitate. Ignore them and they'll go find someplace else they aren't wanted.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | April 23, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

The fact that Nancy Pelosi was briefed on torture plans is interesting and I'd like to hear her explanation and reaction. But I'm not sure she's smart enough to have known at the time the significance of what she was being told. So let's hear from her what she thinks she heard and what her reaction and actions were. On the other hand, high officials in the Justice Dept, Dept of Defense, CIA, State Dept and White House staff should be experts in US law, the Geneva Convention, and international understandings and policies regarding torture. Because of their positions and responsibilities, they are culpable for breaking the law, knowingly and with forethought.

Posted by: gjhinnova | April 23, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Good coverage of the issues. What becomes clear to me as this story develops is that it is not just the people who gave legal backing to the torture, and not just the people who implemented the policy, who should be held accountable. We must also blame the people we see on forums like this who continue to claim that torture is an acceptable policy for the US. The torturers in the Bush Admin knew that the extreme right wing would defend them in the name of necessity. These anti-constitutional brutalists must be defeated too. (SharpshootingPugilist I'm talking to you, for one).

Posted by: gposner | April 23, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

IF I had my wish:

The Democrats would have pursued this in 2006/2007 after winning back the House and Senate.

There would be indictments, prosecutions, and jail for Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Rice, Addington, Wolfowitz, and a long list of others.

In reality:

It will be nothing more than political theater, "A show of shows! A spectacular event!!! Better than Hello Dolly and Ben Hur rolled into one".

And the usual suspects, including those capitulating complicit Democrats, will still be in office or enjoying life dreaming up the next scheme.

Posted by: mdsinc | April 23, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I particularly enjoyed Dick "Last Throes" Cheney's assertion that there are "secret memos" showing that torture worked. No matter how many memos get released, Dick Cheney can still insist that the ones showing that the ends really did justify the means is still being kept from the public.

What this really means is that:

1) All that torturing generated false confessions describing imaginary attack plans dreamed up by Mr. Cheney's victims to stop the pain;

2) Mr. Cheney uses this false confessions to justify more torture (After the third week of waterboarding, the subject said he was in talks with the Romulans and the Klingons to strike the US. The Romulans and Klingons never attacked - therefore torture helped us stop an instellar conflict...)

I go with the FBI's assessment: "We got a bunch of alerts from the CIA - but they were all worthles and lead nowhere."

Posted by: Common_Sense_Not_Common | April 23, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes: "...President Obama has injected a poison into our politics that he and the country will live to regret." HHHHAAAAAAA that's hilarious!!!!! Like our political system isn't already poison to our country!

Posted by: millionea7 | April 23, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Cheney's daughter was interviewed on MSNBC this afternoon. She is also helping to spread the misinformation (i.e. lies) that her father is spreading. (By the way, is was said that the Cheneys won't allow anyone else in an interview with them who can rebut their lies). After watching her, I can only wonder what is in the water at the Cheney house!!

Posted by: lddoyle2002 | April 23, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

For those who think anyone in congress, regardless of party is complicit in the whole torture deal, does it matter iif they knew? Sounds to me like they were told we have this… Now if you tell anybody you will be prosecuted for revealing state secrets. On top of that regardless of what they were told or when, is there any doubt that the Bush administration was going to go through with this “program”? Besides when Push comes to Shove I’ll bet everyone who was notified would testify for the prosecution if it became a criminal matter for them. So I say add them all to the investigation. Cast the net as wide as it will go and sort it out as they learn what is in the net.

Posted by: m_mcmahon | April 23, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

""Defenders of these techniques have claimed that they got Abu Zubaydah to give up information leading to the capture of ... [Jose] Padilla."

Don't they realize when they say this that they are CONFIRMING that the information from these "techniques" is useless? They could not pin ANYTHING on Padilla, even after years of submitting him, too, to "enhanced interrogation."

Posted by: RealCalGal | April 23, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Maybe somebody who has actually read the memos could fill me in.

Do they actually say you can waterboard someone as long as you don't do it more than six times a day for a month?

Would the seventh time be torture, then?

Or was it just that they didn't have the personnel to do it more than six times a day, what with mandatory lunch breaks, etc.

"The average American doesn’t give a rat's rear if KSM was waterboarded 10, 100, or 10,000 times. If it stopped a potential attack the vast majority of Americans have no problem with it."

Well, I don't the average German gave a rat's ass about how many Jews Hitler killed, either. That doesn't make it right, for God's sake. And your second sentence, that contains a great big IF there, but I'll grant you it did. Getting results does NOT make torture OK. It wouldn't make murdering someone's kids in front of them OK, either. Or do you think the average American WOULD give a rat's ass if we killed KSM's kid in front of him if THAT saved American lives?

I really don't understand how someone can make this line of argument.

What they're really saying is that think torture is OK, as long as WE do it.

Posted by: RealCalGal | April 23, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

It's always fascinating to read Froomkin's pabulum and the indignant responses it invariably prompts. Obama's own director of national intelligence has said the interrogation techniques yielded actionable intelligence, and yet little Danny and the rest of the unhinged loons here (to say nothing of the NY Times Editorial Board) would have us believe that Cheney and his henchman alone are pushing that narrative. Are you people really that obtuse?

Posted by: danner1 | April 23, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

There is a pile of evidence that 9/11 was actually an inside job. Call me an America hating conspiracy nut if you like, but please do your own research and think critically about the issue before you label me.
Did you all know that 3 buildings actually fell in NYC on 9/11/2001. Building 7 of the WTC collapsed into its own footprint at 5 pm that day. No plane hit that building. The 9/11 commission report does NOT mention WTC 7 a single time. Doesn't that fact alone prove the 9/11 commission was an incomplete and dishonest investigation?
Did you all know that part of the official story is that an FBI agent found one of the 'terrorist's' passports in the wreckage at the WTC? So they expect us to believe they found a paper passport but both blackboxes were destroyed? We bought that lie. There are so many other pieces of evidence that point to an inside job. I encourage all of you to do your own research. Free your mind from your assumptions that our own government couldn't and wouldn't do something so evil and horrific. Once you free your mind of that assumption and examine the evidence honestly, you will see that the possibilty of an inside job is real.

Posted by: bobmarleyforpeace | April 23, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

"The torture apologists love to compare waterboarding of detainees to experiments done to American volunteers as part of their training."

Yeah, I just heard Lynn Cheney Jr. make this argument. Dim bulb Norah O'Donnell couldn't think to rebut Cheney with, "You know that the SERE program trains people to resist TORTURE, don't you? They ADMIT they torture the volunteers in order to train them to resist it? They certainly don't waterboard anybody six times a day for a month. Get your facts straight."

Posted by: RealCalGal | April 23, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Keep up the excellent work on this most important story that so much of the media are trying to ignore, Mr. Froomkin.

There is only one resolution to this question of torture: an independent prosecutor, perhaps a team of independent prosecutors. Persons of independence and integrity that all Americans can accept their findings should be directed to follow the trail of broken laws wherever it may lead. If laws were broken, punishment should be meted out.

Independent prosecution should satisfy every corner, even the wingnuts. It was good enough for Whitewater and sex in the White House, wasn't it. A Congressional investigation will ultimately lead to a coverup of Congressional involvement. Rockefeller, Roberts, Pelosi, Harman and all of the rest of that dirty gang in Washington should be prosecuted, at the very least outed, if they knew laws were broken and they did not speak out.

An independent prosecution should not be limited to the torture issue. Spying on American citizens, taking our nation to war under false pretenses, outing a CIA operative, and every other violation of our nation's laws by the Bush administration should be investigated and if laws were broken the lawbreakers and those who knew and kept silent should be prosecuted.

Posted by: frazeysburger | April 23, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Keep up the excellent work on this most important story that so much of the media are trying to ignore, Mr. Froomkin.

There is only one resolution to this question of torture: an independent prosecutor, perhaps a team of independent prosecutors. Persons of independence and integrity that all Americans can accept their findings should be directed to follow the trail of broken laws wherever it may lead. If laws were broken, punishment should be meted out.

Independent prosecution should satisfy every corner, even the wingnuts. It was good enough for Whitewater and sex in the White House, wasn't it. A Congressional investigation will ultimately lead to a coverup of Congressional involvement. Rockefeller, Roberts, Pelosi, Harman and all of the rest of that dirty gang in Washington should be prosecuted, at the very least outed, if they knew laws were broken and they did not speak out.

An independent prosecution should not be limited to the torture issue. Spying on American citizens, taking our nation to war under false pretenses, outing a CIA operative, and every other violation of our nation's laws by the Bush administration should be investigated and if laws were broken the lawbreakers and those who knew and kept silent should be prosecuted.

Posted by: frazeysburger | April 23, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Thank goodness we are lancing this boil after all these years. The truth must come out and names must be named. Whether the names are Cheney, Bybee, Yoo, and Rice or Pelosi, Harman and Rockefeller, doesn't matter. Those who advocated, permitted or authorized torture need to be held accountable, regardless of something as petty as political party they belonged to.

Posted by: jrw2 | April 23, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

What kind of leadership are we displaying to the rest of the world if we torture? How can we ever encourage other countries that it is wrong? How do we expect for our troops to be treated if captured?

If we have any moral leadership left, we should make every effort to let the rest of the world know that we made a mistake. Yes, losing 3000+ Americans is tragic, but it could be much worse if other countries adopted immoral processes and systems and pointed to our policies as examples.

Posted by: fmg617aolcom | April 23, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

The truth must come out and names must be named. Whether the names are Cheney, Bybee, Yoo, and Rice or Pelosi, Harman and Rockefeller, doesn't matter. Those who advocated, permitted or authorized torture need to be held accountable, regardless of something as petty as political party they belonged to.
_____
Ummm do the Democrats know it's Pelosi, Harman and Rockefeller who can take the fall for this??? Cause if that's the case this investigation will be dropped faster than a lead balloon..

Posted by: sovine08 | April 23, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

One thing that the pro-Cheney/Bush/Torture supporters are overlooking is that waterboarding was prosecuted as torture and a crime by the United States in war-crimes trials of Nazis and Japanese after World War II.

What, in all of this does not compute?

Based on our own legal history, waterboarding is a crime that the United States government has charged members of the Axis powers with, found guilty of, and punished for.

At the point they approved the use of waterboarding, Bush and Cheney placed themselves in the company of those that this country has considered criminals.

What that also means, at least for those in the Military and subject to the Univorf Code of Military Justice is that when an order was given to perform an act (i.e., waterboarding) that has been declared a crime by the US War Crimes Tribunals following the end of WWII, the order was an illegal order that those subject to the UCMJ are bound by law not to obey. Those who did obey the order to committ an illegal act are guilty of violating the UCMJ

But when one considers that G W Bush is a deserter from the Texas National Guard and druggie and Cheney is a multipole DUI, 5-deferement unrepentant alcohoic, then their willing ness to break the law established following the end of WWII is not surprising.

Bottom line?

According to the United States< British, French, Canadian, Australian, and New Zeland legal interpretations used at the War Crimes tribunals following WWII, Waterboarding is a crime punishable by imprisonment.

Based on the war crimes tribunal rulings and convictions for waterboarding, there is no room for debating about it. Those who approved waterboarding and those who did it are criminals.

JE Atkinson US Navy(ret)

Posted by: JEAtkinsonUSNavyret | April 23, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Dear Dan,

In the NYT article, "Any Indictment of Interrogation Policy Makers Would Face Several Hurdles", Charlie Savage reports, "On Wednesday, three senators — Republicans John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, along with Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut — sent a letter to Mr. Obama strongly urging him not to prosecute such lawyers, even though their legal advice was “deeply flawed,” the senators said.
“Moving in such a direction would have a deeply chilling effect on the ability of lawyers in any administration to provide their client — the U.S. government — with their best legal advice,” they wrote.

First and foremost, there is no apparent connection between the three senators' recommendation and their justification for it. How does being held accountable for "deeply flawed" advise have a negative impact on attorneys' ability to provide the government with their best legal advise? If anything, accountability for what may have been criminally negligent advise should facilitate a greater sense of care and duty to provide sound advise. At the very least, it should reinforce the idea that legal advise "shaped" to suit the predilections of the client cannot be proffered with impunity.

Second, and perhaps more worrying, I smell the beginnings of a round-robin cover up. We justify breaches of policy, law and treaty by agents of the government by saying that they relied on legal opinions stating that these acts were within the law. (See Nuremberg Defense) Then we say that legal opinions written by political operatives with "deeply flawed" legal arguments cannot be pursued so as not to hamper the ability of the government's legal advisers to give their best advise. Suddenly, no one is guilty of anything. Let's just write it all off as a bad dream and move on - until the next time it happens.

This is not about vengeance, it is about justice and the safeguarding of the rule of law. If this two-step defense gambit is permitted to succeed, a precedent will be set for future governments to use whenever Constitutional safeguards are found to be "quaint" or inconvenient. The past eight years have exposed serious weaknesses in our system. We must understand how they were exploited to such disastrous results if we are to have any hope of remedying them.

Posted by: rlbarto | April 23, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

i wonder how far our GOP "leaders" would have gone if the country had been attacked a second time? would they have started locking up all the Muslims? suspended even more civil rights? declared war speech, assembly, and the press?

we made it easy for the terrorists to kill more than 4000 Americans, by sending men and women into Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction, nukes and missiles and chemicals, fight terrorists, bring freedom, steal oil...

.

Posted by: kbtoledo | April 23, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

You write: "Any assertions from these people should presumptively be considered misinformation."

Yes.

Which is why it is shocking to see their assertions treated as fact by mainstream media.

For instance: my local paper, the San Francisco Chronicle today, reported that there are questions about techniques used in the administration's "anti-terrorism program".

But the claim that the program was reducing terrorism is an administration assertion. The evidence if anything points the other way. Experienced senior American interrogator Matthew Alexander wrote on November 30, 2008:

"I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It's no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans."

So what should the Chronicle have reported?

It should have reported there are questions about a torture program run by the previous administration. It would be perfectly appropriate to write that the administration claimed it was part of an anti-terrorism program -- SO LONG AS THAT CLAIM IS FACT CHECKED. It's called journalism, folks.

I am sorry that my local paper is doing badly financially.

But I'm even sadder that it's failing as journalism.

Posted by: jpk1 | April 23, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm afraid that you (= U.S.A.) have been governed during the last eight (8) years by a set of potentially criminal people.

The whole show of George W. Bush and his nasty power play and ONLY power play has been the deepest basis of the crises the world is going through now. President Obama is an honest man and will not stop Legal Preocedures. The United Nations will immediately take over if anything goes wrong in Legal Procedures of the U.S.A.

Posted by: janosj | April 24, 2009 6:49 AM | Report abuse

jpk1, the Bush administration claimed the torture, as well as the war in Iraq, were part of their anti-terror operations--hence the term, War on Terror. That claim is perfectly accurate.

You can dispute the effectiveness of their operations--like most of us do--but the simple assertion that the interrogations and military action were anti-terror work is a matter of record, which doesn't need verification. (Though in the case of Iraq, the assertion is a lie--but it remained one of Bush & Cheney's central assertions.)

So in this case, what the newspaper printed was perfectly accurate.

Posted by: whizbang9a | April 24, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

It would be very helpful if you gave a good desciption of the meaning of the word 'assertion' in THIS SPECIFIC CASE AND CONTEXT.
Starting a war in this context, is the killing of at least 4.000 U.S.A. soldiers a 'collateral effect'? And the killing of Spanish and British soldiers. And would you agree with the main economists on this Earth that the crises the whole world is going through now is mainly caused by the adventures and lack of real leadership of Bush and many members of his team ?

Posted by: janosj | April 24, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

"President Obama has injected a poison into our politics that he and the country will live to regret."
... and torture isn't poison!!?

Posted by: drum_sing | April 24, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Lets focus on Ali Soufan, formerly of the FBI and a part of the team that interrogated Zubaydah, and the warning that "Any assertions from these people should presumptively be considered misinformation".

Mr. Soufan wrote, as quoted above, that

"It is inaccurate, however, to say that Abu Zubaydah had been uncooperative. Along with another F.B.I. agent, and with several C.I.A. officers present, I questioned him from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August. Under traditional interrogation methods, he provided us with important actionable intelligence....."

People who page through the Department of Justice Inspector General report on torture find a much different story (se pages 110-111 of the 438 page .pfd at their website:

"http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/special/s0805/final.pdf"

The CIA was in charge of the interrogation essentially from the outset and adopted harsh (but redacted) tactics right away. One FBI agent described these as "borderline torture", and the FBI agents were recalled in May/June because the FBI did not think they should be involved.

Yet now the early interrogation is described as "traditional"? What kind of FBI are we running, or what kind of fools does Mr. Soufan take us for?

The Times described the Zabaydah interrogation in Sept 2006:

"The events that unfolded at the safe house over the next few weeks [after his capture] proved to be fateful for the Bush administration. Within days, Mr. Zubaydah was being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques — he was stripped, held in an icy room and jarred by earsplittingly loud music — the genesis of practices later adopted by some within the military, and widely used by the Central Intelligence Agency in handling prominent terrorism suspects at secret overseas prisons."

I wonder whether Mr. Soufan misled the DoJ Inspector General or Times readers. And since Dan thought it was the most important story yesterday, I know he is curious too.

Posted by: tom10023 | April 24, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

And this just in. ABC news is reporting that the following argument was made in court, as to why an additional 44 photos of detainee abuse should not be released as requested by the ACLU in their FOI lawsuit.

Here goes.... Get ready for it....

The Bush administration had also argued that releasing the photographs would violated the Geneva Conventions, which protect prisoners of war and detained civilians “against insults and public curiosity."

Posted by: arwarren02 | April 24, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

@arwarren02 - thanks for posting this! It just goes to show that real life is stranger than fiction, doesn't it?

Posted by: apn3206 | April 24, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing to me how overtly torture defenders will lie, like akzmrzr mixelplick whatever. We explicitly beat people, slammed people into walls, waterboarded them (Prosecuted US Army officers for this in 1898, Japanese and Germans following WWII), stuck things up their butts repeatedly (instrumental rape). I suppose you paragons of virtue on the right approved of the reported child rape used at Abu Ghraib and reported earlier, when the Lyndi England photos were about, and the penis mutilation described by Binyam Mohamed no doubt tickled you to no end.
You are accessories to torture and embarrassments to America. The best thing defenders of torture could do for this country right now is self-extinguish, saving the cost of a trial when Holder finally gets around to complying with the law. Calling it retribution is a clear lie, diminishing the evil that you supported is not going to make it go away, and the fact that only a few NCOs and enlisted have been punished for the vast number of war crimes is a shame to the nation. Bush and Cheney and Rice and Rumsfeld should swing for what they have done, as should every party complicit in planning for, allowing, and executing torture.
You don't solve crime by behaving worse than the criminals you purport to punish.

Posted by: sparkplug1 | April 24, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

froomkin, you are the king of misinformation! Waterboarding is not universally considered torture - you and others like you think that it is, but a similar number of folks don't think it is.

Will you want Pelosi and others in Congress prosecuted since they were briefed about all methods of interrogation at least 30 times? No, I doubt you will get off your "i hate bush" horse long enough to call her out as well. Partisan hack, that's all you are.

Posted by: trjn30
***************
Okay, Trojan, name three civilized nations that do not condemn waterboarding as torture.
You've made a claim, back it up-- or just admit you're a partisan hack who loves torture and hates America.

Posted by: drewbitt | April 25, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

bobmarleyforpeace,
You are absolutely correct! It was an inside job! Did you ever wonder why there was no wreckage at the pentagon from the plane that hit it? it wasn't a plane but a missile (cruise most likely). Also, NSA has the recording of the cell phone calls from the people inside flight 93 stating that the passengers reclaimed control of the plane and that there were fighter planes outside escorting them (presumably) when all comminication was lost and later found crashed into the ground. Questions, questions, and more questions! Absolutely, you must think outside the box to view this from an objective perspective, but most americans don't have that ability especially if they are the christians, (a joke) republicans, conservatives, and all other closed-minded people. Read David Ray Griffith's book "The New Pearl Harbor" and then you will realize that YES our government can do such a hideous deed, especially when that government is composed of the morons such as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and all the other neo-conservatives. These criminals almost destroyed this country and how anyone in their right mind can defend the criminal actions of the few can only be guilty of complicity after the fact. Right-wingers, so-called christians, Rush, Fox news are just a few of the criminally complicit. To restore the countrys integrity and to repair the damage the Bush criminal empire created will take DECADES!!!

Posted by: t_heavrin | April 26, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

tom10023 Did you actually read what you linked the rest of us to? When I say read I mean comprehend? What you linked supports what Soufan actually said and there some redacted portions that we don’t know what is going on there. I don’t think this is what you really want to be pointing people to in order to prove your point.

Posted by: m_mcmahon | April 27, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

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