Friday, May 15, 2009

Tenet on "Torture" and other things

Panetta is holding the fort:
CIA Director Leon Panetta says agency records show CIA officers briefed lawmakers truthfully in 2002 on methods of interrogating terrorism suspects, but it is up to Congress to reach its own conclusions about what happened.
As Kit Bond said on Morning Joe, CIA briefers don't brief legislators on what they might do. It seems a done deal, although Maguire's a bit wobbly. So is Allahpundit, although such trepedation comes from being burned before:
I know, I know — “it’s not that she condoned waterboarding, it’s that she lied” — but if the left forces her out, it won’t be because she’s a weasel. It’ll be because she didn’t have the moral acuity to throw caution to the wind after 9/11 and shrug off the odds of more attacks all so that Khaled Sheikh Mohammed wouldn’t be pretend-drowned. Click the image to listen.
Based on their track record of using this stuff for political gain it's fairly unwise to accept that any of them want Pelosi gone without a pound or ten of flesh in return.

And that pound or ten probably involves prosecutions for torture, so let's travel back and see what the DCIA said about all this in his tome about Zubaydah. Keep in mind ole Abu predicted we'd find Zarqawi in Iraq during his interrogation in Egypt, so not everything he said was available for recanting. Also keep in mind we sent a specialist from Johns Hopkins to save Abu's life after he took three gunshots from the Pakistani police during his capture. So here's Tenet from page 241, with my emphasis:
Now that we had an undoubted resource in our hands--the highest ranking al-Qa'ida official captured to date--we opened discussions with the National Security Council as to how to handle him, since holding and interrogating large numbers of al-Qa'ida operatives had never been part of our plan. But Zubaydah and a small number of other extremely highly placed terrorists potentially had information that might save thousands of lives. We wondered what we could legitimately do to get that information.


CIA officers came up with a series of interrogation techniques that would be carefully monitored at all times to ensure the safety of the prisoner. The administration and the Department of Justice were fully briefed and approved the use of these tactics. After we received written Department of Justice guidance on the interrogation issue, we briefed the chairmen and ranking members of our oversight committees. While they were not asked to formally approve the program, as it was conducted under the president's unilateral authorities, I can recall no objections being raised.


Like many of the al-Qa'ida detainees, Abu Zubaydah originally thought he could outsmart his questioners. He would offer up bits and pieces of information that he thought would give the impression of his providing useful material, without really compromising operational security.

But Abu Zubaydah ultimately provided a motherlode of information,


A published report in 2006 contended that Abu Zubaydah was mentally unstable and that the administration had overstated his importance. Baloney.
So the CIA came up with the techniques, not Cheney. This also stands opposed to FBI expert witness Ali Soufan. Let's also keep in mind that Zubaydah was part of the 'system blinking red' warning that Tenet gave Rice in summer 2001 about pending attacks, one which the left used to accuse Bush of failing to connect dots.

Yet somehow, after the 9/11 dust settled, Zubahday became mentally unstable and overstated--perfect for setting up the torture canard. And somehow Pelosi developed a sudden moral epiphany she had been hiding for years. Sorry, if anyone deserves to be prosecuted for this stuff maybe it's the ones who were politicizing it. The war isn't even over.

MORE 5/15/09

While it seems that Panetta is involved in a low-level war with Pelosi, maybe both are still just covering their rumps. His letter today did not specify that CIA briefers specifically told Pelosi and Goss that waterboarding had occurred, only that it was a tool. There was probably a wink-wink in there that both understood at the time, which could be why Goss is so upset and why Nancy is holding the fort with Clintonian word parsing darts in hand.

Panetta is throwing it back to Congress (as he should) without providing the actual noose, which will have to come in the form of a writ, presumably through Nancy. Meanwhile Obama is nowhere to be found on this. Maybe he's out having a smoke near the swingset.


Oh brother:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has backed down slightly in her fight with the CIA, saying that she really meant only to criticize the Bush administration rather than career officials.

"My criticism of the manner in which the Bush Administration did not appropriately inform Congress is separate from my respect for those in the intelligence community who work to keep our country safe," Pelosi said in a statement.
The loyalists and perhaps some in the media will buy her "Bush lied" diversion, but will the Democratic leadership? Meanwhile, where is Obama? While the entire country is looking back his official posture is that he's looking forward, even though he lit the match by releasing the OLC memos. I suppose you can't blame him for hiding in the tall grass since so far only the token Fox guy has bothered to notice. We'll see if the Sunday pundits can find him.

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