Sunday, May 17, 2009

Another Place, Another Time

One of the Green Room guys at Hot Air has unearthed a comment from Miss Nancy in May 2002 regards our friend Abu Z:
Since his capture in March, Abu Zubaydah has shared some valuable information, says a senior U.S. intelligence source. "He's not us on everything." Then again, says Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, "he is also very skilled at avoiding interrogation. He is an agent of disinformation."
Zubaydah was the only top-ranking AQ fish we'd captured at that time and his complicity in past acts was well-known before Bush arrived, perhaps even to a long-time member of the House Intelligence Committee. Tenet described Abu as someone who thought he was more clever than his interrogators. The passage of time has softened Abu's rep but we have the internets!
In early 1999, Hijazi and Abu Hoshar contacted Khalil Deek, an American citizen and an associate of Abu Zubaydah who lived in Peshawar, Pakistan, and who, with Afghanistan-based extremists, had created an electronic version of a terrorist manual, the Encyclopedia of Jihad. They obtained a CD-ROM of this encyclopedia from Deek.
This encyclopedia apparently contained counter-interrogation techniques, some of which were probably familiar to Zubaydah. His history also included coordinatng the Millennium attacks, as explained by 60 Minutes II in late 2001:
Other holy sites were on the hit list: a hill near the Dead Sea where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Thousands of pilgrims were expected there. Another target: Mount Nebo, which Moses climbed to see the promised land. But the top target was the Radisson hotel in downtown Amman, its 400 rooms fully booked by Americans and Israelis for the big millennium party. Jordanian agents got word that the man known as Abu Ahmed the American was boasting there wouldn't be enough body bags in Jordan to hold all the corpses.

Everything was set. The planning had been completed, the explosives were hidden in Amman. Abu Ahmed the American was about to return here from Afghanistan. It might have come off if Jordanian intelligence hadn't intercepted a phone call on the evening of Nov. 30 from Osama bin Laden's lieutenant in Pakistan to the cell in Amman. The lieutenant spoke in code. His words were: “The grooms are ready for the big wedding.”

The message had come from Abu Zubaydah. Osama bin Laden's chief recruiter.
The story goes on to recount the American version thwarted by an alert border guard spooking an over-anxious Ahmed Ressam (any mention of the Millennium plot always brings to mind Sandy Berger's socks caper and why he wanted that after-action report so badly).

And while this history doesn't serve as a smoking gun as to whether Pelosi was briefed specifically on waterboarding in September 2002 it does serve as a reminder of how dangerous and important they believed Zubaydah was at the time and how it was seen as key to get information from him before something else happened. That would explain why Pelosi and Goss asked the CIA whether they were 'doing enough' during that meeting.

It also serves as an example of how the public perception has changed in eight years. We've either reverted completely to a 9/10 frame of mind, squabbling over moral questions that would have given few pause when officials were scrambling to stop further horrible attacks, or Bush actually won the GWoT when nobody was looking, nullifying future threats. History, intelligence, and common sense would suggest neither--the public is surely still aware of threats, moreso than before 9/11. But after seven years of war and the Democratic propaganda against it they're confused as to the real enemy.

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