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April 24, 2009

Bullshit: FBI Witness Claims Zubaydah Didn't Need to be Waterboarded

Wow. A lot of claims made about Zubaydah.

First, we were told he was, literally, "insane" and could not provide any intelligence, as he was just imaginin' shit.

At the same time, I think we oversold [Zubaydah's] value -- the administration did -- to the American public. That's indisputable. As well, what folks inside the CIA and FBI were realizing, even as the president and others inside the administration were emphasizing the profound malevolence and value strategically to the capture of Zubaydah, is that Zubaydah is psychologically imbalanced, he has multiple personalities. And he was not involved in various events that we thought he was involved in. During various bombings in the late '90s, he was not where we thought he would be. That's shown in the diaries, where he goes through long lists of quotidian, nonsensical details about various people and what they're doing, folks that he's moving around, getting plane tickets for and serving tea to, all in the voices of three different characters; page after page of his diary, filled, including on dates where, I'm trying to think, it was either the Khobar Towers or the Cole, where we thought he was involved in the bombing and he clearly wasn't.

Next up: Zubaydah's interrogation, the WaPo claims, was worthless because it didn't foil any Al Qaeda plots.

Well, except that whole "Second Wave" of jetliners to be crashed into LA skyscrapers.

Would you like to try again?

Okay, how about this version: Sure, he was telling us important stuff, but he was telling us it without waterboarding, so waterboarding was unnecessary.

But there are levels of cooperation. FBI agent Soufan was pleased with Zubaydah's cooperation. The CIA was not.

In Thailand, the new C.I.A. team concluded that under standard questioning Mr. Zubaydah was revealing only a small fraction of what he knew, and decided that more aggressive techniques were warranted.

At times, Mr. Zubaydah, still weak from his wounds, was stripped and placed in a cell without a bunk or blankets. He stood or lay on the bare floor, sometimes with air-conditioning adjusted so that, one official said, Mr. Zubaydah seemed to turn blue. At other times, the interrogators piped in deafening blasts of music by groups like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sometimes, the interrogator would use simpler techniques, entering his cell to ask him to confess.

“You know what I want,” the interrogator would say to him, according to one official’s account, departing leaving Mr. Zubaydah to brood over his answer.

F.B.I. agents on the scene angrily protested the more aggressive approach, arguing that persuasion rather than coercion had succeeded. But leaders of the C.I.A. interrogation team were convinced that tougher tactics were warranted and said that the methods had been authorized by senior lawyers at the White House.

Read Maguire's link. While Soufan says that waterboarding wasn't necessary, because "traditional" methods were working, in fact "traditional" methods had not been working at all -- Zubaydah was prompted to talk, even while Soufan was involved, by icy-cell treatment, ear-splitting music, etc. In other words, all the "torture" short of waterboarding had been needed to spur him to talk.

The left can take this as a claim that waterboarding itself wasn't needed, but they can't take it as a claim that enhanced interrogation techniques weren't needed -- those techniques were exactly the ones that got him chatting.

Furthermore, Soufan seems to think that Zubaydah would have given it all up without waterboarding, if we'd just been patient. Well, maybe. Difference of opinion, it seems. We do know that he spilled more with waterboarding. Whether he would have spilled without it -- who knows. Soufan can offer his speculation but that's all it is.

Arguing in the Alternative... I am really tired of the left's propensity to seize upon one inconsistent argument after another. They all have the same conclusion -- torture bad! -- but they change premises at the drop of a hat.



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posted by Ace at 02:41 PM

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