Waterboarding, Rough Interrogation of Abu Zubaida Produced False Leads, Officials
By Peter Finn and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, March 29, 2009; A01
When CIA officials subjected their first high-value captive, Abu Zubaida, to
waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods, they were convinced that
they had in their custody an al-Qaeda leader who knew details of operations
yet to be unleashed, and they were facing increasing pressure from the White
House to get those secrets out of him.
The methods succeeded in breaking him, and the stories he told of al-Qaeda
terrorism plots sent CIA officers around the globe chasing leads.
In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of
Abu Zubaida’s tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials
who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads attained through
the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information
from Abu Zubaida — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was
obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.
Moreover, within weeks of his capture, U.S. officials had gained evidence that
made clear they had misjudged Abu Zubaida. President George W. Bush had publicly
described him as “al-Qaeda’s chief of operations,” and other top officials
called him a “trusted associate” of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden
and a major figure in the planning of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
None of that was accurate, the new evidence showed.
Abu Zubaida was not even an official member… Continue reading
By LARRY NEUMEISTER
NEW YORK (AP) — NEW YORK — A judge said Wednesday he favors keeping Sept. 11-related documents and interviews secret until the trials for several families of victims suing the airline industry, an opinion that upset several victims’ family members.
Donald Migliori, a lawyer for families of three people who died on hijacked planes in the 2001 attacks, asked U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein to make nearly a million pages of evidence and 200 depositions public, saying there was no reason for secrecy.
Hellerstein did not rule, but he said he favored not publically disclosing evidence that had been gathered and shared with lawyers for the victims under a confidentiality agreement until a trial occurs. No trial has yet been scheduled.
He said the confidentiality agreement speeded a pretrial process that enabled more than 90 families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to settle their cases. Only three families have not settled.
Michael Rowe Feagley, a lawyer for the aviation defendants, said it would not be fair to make all of the pretrial evidence public now, especially since defendants had turned over so much with the understanding that it would remain confidential before trial. He said it would take “extraordinary circumstances and an extreme need for it” to force its public release.
Mike Low, the father of a flight attendant who died on one of the hijacked planes, said afterwards that he was disappointed but not surprised by Hellerstein’s position.
Low sued in spring 2003 on behalf of his daughter, Sara Low, 28, a Boston-based flight attendant who died when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the World Trade Center.…Continue reading
by Rory Eastburg
March 24, 2009
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
A Manhattan federal court will hear oral arguments Wednesday on whether more
than a million pages of documents related to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks
should remain sealed.
Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the United States District Court in New York
City will hear arguments from The New York Times and the Reporters
Committee, as well as victims’ families and attorneys for the aviation industry
The documents come from lawsuits the families of certain Sept. 11 victims brought
against airlines and related defendants. According to a statement from the plaintiffs’
attorneys, more than a million documents remain sealed by an overbroad protective
order that allowed the defendants to unilaterally designate vast numbers of
documents as containing confidential trade secrets.
Neither the victims’ families nor the media groups seek to unseal documents
the government has classified as containing “Sensitive Security Information.”
Attorneys for the victims’ families are seeking to set aside the blanket
designations of confidentiality, arguing that documents withheld as trade secrets
include such important information as “whether the airport screeners’
magnetometers were working on 9/11; whether the screeners were qualified for
their jobs in terms of language skills, citizenship, past criminal record and
other factors; video footage of the hijackers going through airport security;
and training manuals for screeners.”
The Times, on behalf of itself and the Reporters Committee, intervened
for the limited purpose of requesting access to the sealed documents. In a motion
filed on Jan.…
By Joe Dwinell
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Three families who lost loved ones in the 9/11 terrorist attacks head to court
today to plead with a federal judge to release a million pages of documents
detailing the mass murder of nearly 3,000 Americans.
Those secret papers, one Bay State family member told the Herald, are “so
bad you won’t believe it.”
“It was out control,” Paul Keating, 45, said of security on Sept.
11, 2001, including at Logan International Airport in Boston where two ill-fated
jets left on a collision course with infamy.
“My mother went through the most public murder you could imagine . .
. and I’ve been putting up with this crap for seven years,” Keating
said of his refusal to settle his case out of court.
Keating’s 72-year-old mother, Barbara, a Framingham native, died aboard
American Airlines [AMR] Flight 11.
Keating is making legal history today, along with the families of Mark Bavis,
31, and Sara Low, 28, by asking Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein in Federal District
Court in Manhattan to lift the order keeping all the evidence hidden.
Low was a Boston-based flight attendant on Flight 11; Bavis of West Newton,
a passenger on United Airlines Flight 175. Both jets left Logan with hijackers
on board and were slammed into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.
“Sept. 11 should not have happened,” said attorney Donald A. Migliori,
whose firm represents all three families.
He said the secret papers include depositions of former Massport Executive… Continue reading
by Rachel Oswald
March 10, 2009
Update at bottom: White House not concerned by judge’s actions
The ACLU is angry that a military judge has accepted an incendiary legal pleading filed by five 9/11 suspects, despite President Obama’s order stopping the Guantánamo military commissions and even though attorneys for some of the defendants were unaware of it.
Judge Col. Stephen Henley, the appointed chief trial judge in the case ordered the public release of the legal pleading even though all other legal filings have been kept sealed for months by the military commissions, said the American Civil Liberties Union in a release, adding that the competency of two of the men has not yet been determined.
The Smoking Gun has the released six-page legal pleading here.
“We fight you over defending Muslims, their land, their holy sites, and their religion as a whole,” reads the document.
“Judge Henley apparently doesn’t know what the word ‘halt’ means since he has blatantly defied President Obama’s executive order for an end to the military commissions,” said Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU in a released statement. “The judge’s actions extending the military commissions call into question the true intentions of the Pentagon leadership at a time when the Obama administration is searching for a solution to the disastrous detention policies of the Bush administration.”
Romero adds, “If Defense Secretary Gates allowed the military commissions to proceed, that’s a serious problem; if he didn’t know about this, that’s equally troubling. Moreover,… Continue reading
March 10, 2009
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The five detainees at the U.S. Guantánamo Bay
prison camp charged with plotting the September 11 attacks have filed a document
expressing pride at their accomplishment and accepting responsibility for the
deaths of nearly 3,000 people, The New York Times reported on Monday.
The document, which the newspaper said may be released publicly on Tuesday,
describes the five men as the “9/11 Shura Council,” and says their
actions were an offering to God, according to excerpts of the document read
to a reporter by an unidentified government official, the report said.
“‘To us,’ the official read, ‘they are not accusations. To us they are
a badge of honor, which we carry with honor,'” the paper said.
The document is titled “The Islamic Response to the Government’s Nine
Accusations,” the military judge at the U.S. Naval base said in a separate
filing, obtained by the Times, that described the detainees’ document.
The document was filed on behalf of the five men, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed,
who has called himself the mastermind of the attacks.
Some of the men had said earlier that they planned the 2001 attacks and that
they wanted to be martyrs. The reason for the new filing, which the report said
reached the military court on March 5, was not clear. The brief court order
describing the filing said the men sought no legal action.
(Writing by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Mohammad Zargham)
Excerpts from the statement of five Sept.…Continue reading
We urge Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a non-partisan independent Special Counsel to immediately commence a prosecutorial investigation into the most serious alleged crimes of former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Richard B. Cheney, the attorneys formerly employed by the Department of Justice whose memos sought to justify torture, and other former top officials of the Bush Administration.
UPDATE 2/27/09 6pm: In response to the many email questions we’ve received asking why we have not endorsed this call for a Special Prosecutor: On 2/24, when this statement/petition was posted at AfterDowningStreet.org, 911truth.org immediately signed on as an endorsing organization via the signup at that site. As of now, our name does not appear on that list. Nonetheless, we did submit endorsement. We are not, yet, encouraging 9/11 truth advocates to politely contact David Swanson asking him why he would permanently post a video statement from Willie Rodriguez on the front page of his site, yet continue to ignore/ban the burgeoning 9/11 truth movement from being heard as the powerful voice we are, in calling for truth and accountability. We believe that Mr. Swanson is acting in good faith, all in all, and will post our endorsement with the others on the list shortly.
Our laws, and treaties that under Article VI of our Constitution are the supreme law of the land, require the prosecution of crimes that strong evidence suggests these individuals have committed. Both the former president and the former vice president have confessed to authorizing a torture procedure that is illegal under our law and treaty obligations.…Continue reading
By Paul Elias
January 7, 2009
SAN FRANCISCO — Six veterans who claim they were exposed to dangerous chemicals, germs and mind-altering drugs during Cold War experiments sued the CIA, Department of Defense and other agencies today.
The vets volunteered for military experiments they say were part of a wide-ranging program started in the 1950s to test nerve agents, biological weapons and mind-control techniques.
They allege in their lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court that they were never properly informed of the nature of the experiments and are in poor health because of their exposure. They are demanding health care and a court ruling that the program was illegal because it failed to obtain their consent.
Marie Harf, a CIA spokeswoman, declined to comment on the lawsuit, which seeks class action status on behalf of all participants allegedly exposed to harmful experiments without their knowledge.
At least 7,800 U.S. military personnel served as volunteers to test experimental drugs such as LSD at the Edgewood Arsenal near Baltimore, Md., during a program that lasted into the 1970s, the lawsuit said. Many others volunteered for similar experiments at other locations, according to the lawsuit.
“In virtually all cases, troops served in the same capacity as laboratory rats or guinea pigs,” the lawsuit said.
One notorious CIA project from the 1950s and 1960s, code-named MK-ULTRA, involved brainwashing and administering experimental drugs like LSD to unsuspecting individuals. The project was the target of at least three Congressional inquiries in the 1970s,… Continue reading
Stephen C. Webster
A career Army officer who survived the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, claims that no evacuation was ordered inside the Pentagon, despite flight controllers calling in warnings of approaching hijacked aircraft nearly 20 minutes before the building was struck.
According to a time-line of the attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration notified NORAD that American Airlines Flight 77 had been hijacked at 9:24 a.m. The Pentagon was not struck until 9:43 a.m.
On behalf of retired Army officer April Gallop, California attorney William Veale has filed a civil suit against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and former US Air Force General Richard Myers, who was acting chairman of the joint chiefs on 9/11. It alleges they engaged in conspiracy to facilitate the terrorist attacks and purposefully failed to warn those inside the Pentagon, contributing to injuries she and her two-month-old son incurred.
“The ex-G.I. plaintiff alleges she has been denied government support since then, because she raised ‘painful questions’ about the inexplicable failure of military defenses at the Pentagon that day, and especially the failure of officials to warn and evacuate the occupants of the building when they knew the attack was imminent” said Veale in a media advisory.
Gallop also says she heard two loud explosions, and does not believe that a Boeing 757 hit the building. Her son sustained a serious brain injury, and Gallop herself was knocked unconscious after the roof collapsed onto her office.
The suit also named… Continue reading
Court Rules Patriot Act’s “National Security Letter” Gag Provisions Unconstitutional (12/15/2008)
ACLU Hails Victory In Challenge To Government’s Power To Silence NSL Recipients
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; email@example.com
NEW YORK — A federal appeals court today upheld, in part, a decision striking down provisions of the Patriot Act that prevent national security letter (NSL) recipients from speaking out about the secret records demands. The decision comes in an American Civil Liberties Union and New York Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging the FBI’s authority to use NSLs to demand sensitive and private customer records from Internet Service Providers and then forbid them from discussing the requests. Siding with the ACLU, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that the statute’s gag provisions violate the First Amendment.
“We are gratified that the appeals court found that the FBI cannot silence people with complete disregard for the First Amendment simply by saying the words ‘national security,'” said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “This is a major victory for the rule of law. The court recognized the need for judicial oversight of the government’s dangerous gag power and rejected the Bush administration’s position that the courts should just rubber-stamp these gag orders. By upholding the critical check of judicial review, the FBI can no longer use this incredible power to hide abuse of its intrusive Patriot Act surveillance powers and silence critics.”
The appeals court invalidated parts of the statute that wrongly placed the… Continue reading
by Stephen C. Webster
Saturday, September 13, 2008
PROGRAM WILL RETURN SUNDAY, 9 A.M. Eastern
Saturday morning, the dean of Massachusetts School of Law at Andover will convene a two day planning session with a single focus: To arrest, put to trial and carry out sentence on criminals in the Bush Administration.
The conference, arranged by Lawrence Vevel, cofounder of the Andover school, will focus on which of Bush’s officials and members of Congress could be charged with war crimes. The plan also calls for “necessary organizational structures” to be established, with the purpose of pursuing the guilty “to the ends of the Earth.”
“For Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Yoo to spend years in jail or go to the gallows for their crimes would be a powerful lesson to future American leaders,” Velvel said in a media advisory.
“He is a former drunk, was a serial failure in business who had to repeatedly be bailed out by daddy’s friends and wanna-be-friends, was unable to speak articulately despite the finest education(s) that money and influence can buy, has a dislike of reading, so that 100-page memos have to be boiled down to one page for him, is heedless of facts and evidence, and appears not even to know the meaning of truth,” said Vevel.…Continue reading
by P. Devlin Buckley
September 5, 2008
The American Monitor
Law firms representing victims of the 9/11 attacks in an ongoing legal dispute with wealthy Saudis suspected of financing al-Qaeda have recently turned their attention to two individuals with unique ties to the U.S. government.
Lawyers for victims of the attacks, as well as insurance companies of property owners in New York, have filed a motion of discovery in federal district court in Manhattan targeting the Saudi-owned National Commercial Bank (NCB) and two of its former executives, Khalid bin Mahfouz and Yassin al-Qadi.
Both Mahfouz and al-Qadi have a murky history that includes alleged ties to the CIA, the White House, the Bush family, al-Qaeda, and organized crime on a global scale.
The discovery motion, if granted, would advance the case by requiring both sides to disclose and exchange all available pertinent facts regarding the defendants. The motion comes just days after a circuit court ruled members of the Saudi government are immune from terrorism lawsuits in the United States, a setback in the plaintiffs’ case against Saudis suspected of financing al-Qaeda in the years leading up to 9/11. There are some defendants, however, the ruling does not protect, including Khalid bin Mahfouz, Yassin al-Qadi, and the NCB.
Government documents, expert testimony, and media reports dating back several years suggest Mahfouz and al-Qadi have raised millions of dollars for al-Qaeda and other militant groups. Evidence indicates some of the defendants’ activities were sanctioned by the U.S. government.
During the late… Continue reading
By Brent Budowsky
July 26, 2008
Consortiumnews Editor’s Note: As his presidency nears its end, George W. Bush will be faced with a tough choice: either run the risk, along with many of his top aides, of future prosecution for a variety of crimes from the “war on terror” — or fashion a mass pardon for all those involved.
In this guest essay, former Democratic congressional aide Brent Budowsky predicts that Bush will take the latter course, even outdoing his father’s lame-duck Iran-Contra pardons in 1992:
Before leaving office George W. Bush will issue a mass pardon, the largest collection of presidential pardons in American history.
Bush will pardon himself, Vice President Cheney, and a long list of officials involved in torture, eavesdropping, destruction of evidence, the CIA leak case, and a range of other potential crimes.
As George Bush signs the pardons and boards the helicopter to depart Washington as his presidency finally ends, even then he and those pardoned will worry about the statute of limitations.
There is an important point to this, often not recognized in official Washington during the Bush years: When the unthinkable became a way of life, acts were committed that defied constitutional and legal principles in ways never done by an American president.
Torture alone violates international law, domestic law, criminal statutes, and American principles that date back to George Washington.
Eavesdropping without court order violates a statute, FISA, that includes severe criminal penalties. If the courts ultimately conclude that these laws… Continue reading
July 24, 2008
Kucinich, Barr, Bugliosi among those testifying
The House Judiciary Committee has released a witness list for its hearing to examine “the imperial presidency” of George W. Bush.
Testifying Friday morning will be Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who has introduced several resolutions calling for President Bush’s and Vice President Dick Cheney’s impeachment; former Rep. Bob Barr, the Libertarian presidential candidate who led the charge to impeach Bill Clinton in 1998; Vincent Bugliosi, author of the just-released book The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder; and 10 other current and former members of Congress, constitutional experts and human rights activists.
The hearing, which was announced last week, seems to be the one Judiciary Chairman John Conyers promised to Kucinich after he introduced his second impeachment resolution aimed at Bush earlier this month. Any action on Kucinich’s articles of impeachment still seems unlikely, but the Ohio Democrat has previously said he just wants to be able to present his case.
Late Thursday afternoon, the committee released the full witness list, broken down into two panels.
The Honorable Dennis Kucinich, Representative from Ohio
The Honorable Maurice Hinchey, Representative from New York
The Honorable Walter Jones, Representative from North Carolina
The Honorable Brad Miller, Representative from North Carolina
The Honorable Elizabeth Holtzman, Former Representative from
The Honorable Bob Barr, Former Representative from Georgia,
2008 Libertarian Nominee for President
The Honorable Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson, Founder and President, High Roads for Human Rights
Stephen Presser, Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History, Northwestern University School of Law
Bruce Fein, Associate Deputy Attorney General, 1981-82, Chairman, American Freedom Agenda
Vincent Bugliosi, Author and former Los Angeles County Prosecutor
By Jim Loney
Originally published July 22, 2008
Someone has just brought to my attention a possible interpretation of this statement different than what I had come to, so in the spirit of accurate reporting and non-sensationalism, I am adding this for your consideration. As always, we hope you carefully interpret all information coming to you, no matter what the source, (including ours, of course). My interpretation of these comments was that Stone was simply making the case (the crux of the case) that Hamdan knew the target, therefore Hamdan must have been a party to the attack. I had not considered that Stone may have been (supposedly) quoting Hamdan fully, and that Hamdan may have been the one reported as having said, “If they hadn’t shot it down…,” not Stone. Nonetheless, it seems quite odd that the US prosecution, led by military officers, would have made any reference to Flight 93 having been shot down… [End of update.]
A couple key points here from the Gitmo show trials not really being shown:
1) Defense attorney for bin Laden’s driver, Salim Hamdan, stated: “There will be no evidence that Mr. Hamdan espoused or believed or embraced any form of what you will hear about, radical Islam beliefs, extremist Muslim beliefs.” Where have we heard that before? A little like Atta and friends drinking Dewars scotch, paying for lap dances, partying it up… fundamentalist Muslims who hate Americans’ ‘freedoms’? I think not…… Continue reading
By Dr. William F. Pepper
As a friend and colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., during the last year of his life, James Earl Ray’s attorney, for the last ten years of his life and, finally, lead Counsel for Dr. King’s family in the 1999 civil trial which brought forward evidence from 70 witnesses over 30 days in Memphis, I am compelled to comment, for the record, on the most recent documentary on the assassination by CNN which is being aired on an ongoing basis. The fact that my participation in the program was used to give it some credibility makes this comment even more relevant.
It is one matter to distort the truth of how this great American prophet was taken from us, but quite another to have mainstream media perpetuate disinformation on matters of such public importance to the citizens of the Republic. An expert witness, at the King family civil trial, William Schapp, set out the historical use of government disinformation through mainstream media, dating back to the 1920’s.
The first half of the program was dedicated to James and his background and history. While the program notably failed to provide a motive as to why this escaped convict would even consider such an act, and racism had been excluded by the earlier Congressional investigation, it was hinted at by a reference of his refusal to go to a work farm attached to the Missouri prison because of the number of blacks in that facility. In fact, James was afraid of becoming tied into drug activity which was going on there and having his term extended.…Continue reading
The Associated Press
June 19, 2008
NEW YORK: Government lawyers say the ongoing investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks could be compromised if the airline industry is allowed to seek more information from the FBI to defend itself against lawsuits brought by terrorism victims.
In papers filed late Tuesday, the government urged a judge to block aviation companies from interviewing five FBI employees who the companies say will help them prove the government withheld key information before the 2001 attacks.
The lawyers said it would be impossible to interview the employees without disclosing classified or privileged material that could “cause serious damage to national security and interfere with pending law enforcement proceedings.”
“The harm described is not hypothetical and cannot be lightly dismissed,” according to the court papers submitted by the office of U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia. “Investigators continue to seek out those parties responsible for the 9/11 attacks who remain at large.”
The largest investigation in FBI history has resulted in 167,000 interviews and more than 155,000 pieces of evidence and involved the pursuit of 500,000 investigative leads, the lawyers wrote.
They said the aviation lawyers were unrealistic to think the investigation would not be compromised if they speak to the FBI employees.
“In fact, it is not possible to disentangle the classified from the unclassified information in the context of a deposition, where open-ended inquiries may elicit responses in which classified or privileged material is intertwined,” they wrote.
So far, the government said, the FBI… Continue reading
For Immediate Release: Monday, June 9, 2008
Contact: Paula Dinerstein (202) 265-7337
EPA MISDEEDS ON TRIAL IN OMBUDSMAN WHISTLEBLOWER HEARING
Witnesses Detail 9/11 Contamination, Toxic Fertilizer and Litany of Other Failings
Washington, DC — In a long-awaited whistleblower trial beginning today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will have to justify dismantling its only independent public advocate. The National Ombudsman Office was closed early in the Bush administration as it pursued an array of EPA scandals, including its failure to issue health warnings after the World Trade Center collapse, use of toxic sewage sludge in widely distributed fertilizer and malfeasance at several Superfund cleanups across the nation, according to documents posted by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
The complaint by Hugh B. Kaufman, who served as the Chief Investigator for the National Ombudsman Office from 1997 until its demise in 2002, charges violation of whistleblower anti-retaliation provisions of the very federal environmental laws that EPA is supposed to enforce. The hearing will feature witnesses harmed by agency misdeeds who had sought help from the Ombudsman Office.
After an initial investigation, the U.S. Labor Department ruled in Mr. Kaufman’s favor and found EPA’s removing his duties was in reprisal for his performing a “too effective job”. Then-EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman personally pulled the plug on the Ombudsman Office and was “committed to not putting Kaufman back”, according to one e-mail exhibit.
EPA appealed the Labor Department order restoring Kaufman, thus triggering the hearing beginning today before administrative law judge… Continue reading