Wednesday, April 22 2009 - 9/11 Consequences
Torture, Iraq, and 9/11
April 21, 2009
by George Washington
5 hours after the 9/11 attacks, Donald Rumsfeld said "my interest is to hit Saddam".
He also said "Go
massive . . . Sweep it all up. Things related and not."
And at 2:40 p.m. on September 11th, in a memorandum of discussions between
top administration officials, several lines below the statement "judge
whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [that is, Saddam Hussein] at same
time", is the statement "Hard to get a good case."
In other words, top officials knew that there wasn't a good case that
Hussein was behind 9/11, but they wanted to use the 9/11 attacks as an
excuse to justify war with Iraq anyway.
And yet, the government knew that
Al Qaeda and Iraq were not linked. For example, "Ten days after the
September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the
Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S.
intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of
Saddam Hussein to the [9/11] attacks and that there was scant credible
evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda".
And a Defense Intelligence Terrorism Summary issued in February 2002 by the
United States Defense Intelligence Agency cast
significant doubt on the possibility of a Saddam Hussein-al-Qaeda conspiracy.
And yet Bush, Cheney and other top administration officials claimed and continue
to claim that Saddam was behind 9/11. See this
analysis. Indeed, Bush
administration officials apparently swore in a lawsuit that Saddam was
Indeed, President Bush's March
18, 2003 letter to Congress authorizing the use of force against Iraq, includes
the following paragraph:
acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is
consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to
take the necessary actions against international terrorists and
terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or
persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist
attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
the Bush administration expressly justified the Iraq war to Congress by
representing that Iraq planned, authorized, committed, or aided the
9/11 attacks. See this
Yesterday, Seator Levin revealed that the U.S. used torture techniques aimed at extracting false
Today, McClatchy fills in some of the details:
senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue
said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq
collaboration...For most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and
Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al
Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and
others had told them were there."
It was during this period that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged
top al Qaida detainees repeatedly --Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August
2002 and Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times in March 2003 -- according to a newly
released Justice Department document...
When people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney's and Rumsfeld's
people to push harder," he continued."Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people were
told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn't any reliable
intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam
. . .
former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army
investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,
detention facility were under "pressure" to produce evidence of ties
between al Qaida and Iraq.
"While we were there a large part of
the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida
and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al
Qaida and Iraq," Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. "The
more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . .
. there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might
produce more immediate results."
"I think it's obvious that the
administration was scrambling then to try to find a connection, a link
(between al Qaida and Iraq)," [Senator] Levin said in a conference call
with reporters. "They made out links where they didn't exist."
recalled Cheney's assertions that a senior Iraqi intelligence officer
had met Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, in the Czech
Republic capital of Prague just months before the attacks on the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The FBI and CIA found that no such meeting occurred.
other words, top Bush administration officials not only knowingly lied
about a non-existent connection between Al Qaida and Iraq, but they
pushed and insisted that interrogators use special torture methods
aimed at extracting false confessions to attempt to create such a false
What Does That Say About the Persuasiveness of the 9/11 Commission Report?
As noted by Newsweek:
The commission appears to have ignored obvious clues throughout 2003 and
2004 that its account of the 9/11 plot and Al Qaeda's history relied
heavily on information obtained from detainees who had been subjected
to torture, or something not far from it.
raised no public protest over the CIA's interrogation methods, even
though news reports at the time suggested how brutal those methods
were. In fact, the commission demanded that the CIA carry out new
rounds of interrogations in 2004 to get answers to its questions.
has troubling implications for the credibility of the commission's
final report. In intelligence circles, testimony obtained through
torture is typically discredited; research shows that people will say
anything under threat of intense physical pain.
yet it is a distinct possibility that Al Qaeda suspects who were the
exclusive source of information for long passages of the commission's
report may have been subjected to "enhanced" interrogation techniques,
or at least threatened with them, because of the 9/11 Commission....
from CIA interrogations of two of the three--KSM and Abu Zubaydah--is
cited throughout two key chapters of the panel's report focusing on the
planning and execution of the attacks and on the history of Al Qaeda.
in the panel's report indicate when information was obtained from
detainees interrogated by the CIA. An analysis by NBC News found that
more than a quarter of the report's footnotes--441 of some
1,700--referred to detainees who were subjected to the CIA's "enhanced"
interrogation program, including the trio who were waterboarded.
members note that they repeatedly pressed the Bush White House and CIA
for direct access to the detainees, but the administration refused. So
the commission forwarded questions to the CIA, whose interrogators
posed them on the panel's behalf.
report gave no hint that harsh interrogation methods were used in
gathering information, stating that the panel had "no control" over how
the CIA did its job; the authors also said they had attempted to
corroborate the information "with documents and statements of others."
how could the commission corroborate information known only to a
handful of people in a shadowy terrorist network, most of whom were
either dead or still at large?
Former senator Bob
Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democrat on the commission, told me last year he
had long feared that the investigation depended too heavily on the
accounts of Al Qaeda detainees who were physically coerced into
Kerrey said it might take "a permanent
9/11 commission" to end the remaining mysteries of September 11. Those
now calling for more 9/11-style panels would be wise to heed his words.
Indeed, as I have repeatedly noted, the 9/11 Commission Report was largely based on a third-hand
account of what tortured detainees said
, with two of the three parties in
the communication being government employees.
The 9/11 Commission itself is complaining that the government lied to - and hid evidence from - the Commission. See this
Now that we know that the interrogators used torture techniques aimed at extracting
, does the 9/11 Commission Report carry
Source URL: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2009/04/5-hours-after-911-attacks-rumsfeld-said.html