The pervasive news surrounding the confirmation hearing of John Brennan, Obama’s nominee for CIA director, is paralleled by another, related story that has been largely ignored by the U.S. media. That is the story of the man called Abu Zubaydah, whose alleged torture testimony, obtained by the CIA while Brennan was the head of the agency’s Terrorist Threat Center, built the foundation for the official account of 9/11. This week I spoke to Lee Hamilton, former vice-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, about the serious problems that the government’s new stance on Zubaydah creates for the 9/11 Commission Report.
As stated in my last article on the subject, Zubaydah is at the center of an unraveling of the official account of the 9/11 attacks. His extensive torture at the hands of the CIA during Brennan’s tenure, which included at least 83 water-boarding sessions, hanging the man naked from the ceiling, slamming him against a concrete wall, and other atrocious experimental techniques, was said to produce valuable evidence about al Qaeda. However, the government now claims that Zubaydah was never a member or associate of al Qaeda and therefore he could not have known any of the information that the 9/11 Commission attributed to him.
From the start of our conversation, Hamilton told me that he was having trouble remembering Zubaydah. That was odd considering that an article he and Thomas Kean wrote for the New York Times in 2008, describing how the CIA obstructed the 9/11 investigation, referred several times… Continue reading
Abu Zubaydah, a man once called al-Qaeda’s “chief of operations” appears to be at the center of an unraveling of the official myth behind al Qaeda. After his capture in early 2002, Zubaydah was the first “detainee” known to be tortured. The information allegedly obtained from his torture played a large part in the creation of the official account of 9/11 and in the justification for the continued use of such torture techniques. Yet in September, 2009, the U.S. government admitted that Zubaydah was never a member or associate of al Qaeda at all. These facts raise an alarming number of questions about the veracity of our knowledge about al Qaeda, and the true identity of the people who are said to be behind the 9/11 attacks.
Unlike other alleged al Qaeda leaders, including Khlaid Sheik Mohammed and Rasmi bin Alshibh, Zubaydah has never been charged with a crime. As these other leading suspects await their continually-postponed military trial, Zubaydah is instead being airbrushed out of history. Why would the U.S. government want us to forget Zubaydah, the first and most important al Qaeda operative captured after 9/11?
The 9/11 Commission called Zubaydah an “Al Qaeda associate,” a “long-time ally of Bin Ladin,” a “Bin Ladin lieutenant,” and an “al Qaeda lieutenant.” The Commission’s claims were somewhat contradictory in that Zubaydah was, in the Commission’s report, represented as both an al Qaeda leader and simply a terrorist colleague who collaborated in the training and recruiting… Continue reading
CIA Criminal Revolving Door: CIA Officer “Albert” Involved in False Intelligence Linking Al-Qaeda to Iran, Iraq
by Kevin Fenton
Reprimanded for Torture, Retired, then Back to CIA as a Contractor
A recent book by former FBI agent Ali Soufan shows that the same CIA officer was involved in generating intelligence that falsely linked al-Qaeda to first Iran and then Iraq. The officer was also involved in a notorious torture episode and was reprimanded by the Agency’s inspector general.
The officer, who Soufan refers to as “Fred,” but whose real first name is “Albert” according to a February 2011 Associated Press article, served at the CIA station in Jordan in 1999. During that time, al-Qaeda, aided by a collection of freelance terrorists headed by Abu Zubaidah, attempted to commit a series of attacks in the country, known as the Millennium Plot. However, the attacks were foiled by the local Jordanian intelligence service, working with the CIA and FBI.
During the investigations of the plotters, Albert drafted a series of official cables that were later withdrawn. Although the withdrawing of the cables was first mentioned in a July 2006 article by Lawrence Wright for the New Yorker, Wright did not mention what was in the cables or by whom they were drafted. The content of one of them and the drafter were first revealed upon the publication of Soufan’s book in mid-September 2011.
According to Soufan, one of the twelve withdrawn cables falsely stated that the group of… Continue reading
By DEVLIN BARRETT
WASHINGTON — Accused al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed complained that interrogators tortured lies out of him, though he proudly took credit for more than two dozen other terror plots, according to newly released sections of government transcripts.
“I make up stories,” Mohammed said at one point in his 2007 hearing at Guantánamo Bay.
In broken English, he described an interrogation in which he was asked the location of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
“Where is he? I don’t know,” Mohammed said. ‘Then he torture me. Then I said, ‘Yes, he is in this area or this is al Qaeda which I don’t know him.’ I said no, they torture me.”
Yet at the same military tribunal hearing, Mohammed ticked off a list of 29 terror plots in which he took part.
The transcripts were released as part of a lawsuit in which the American Civil Liberties Union is seeking documents and details of the government’s terror detainee programs.
Previous accounts of the military tribunal hearings had been made public, but the Obama administration went back and reviewed the still-secret sections and determined that more portions could be released.
Most of the new material centers around the detainees’ claims of abuse during interrogations while being held overseas in CIA custody.
One detainee, Abu Zubaydah, told the tribunal that after months “of suffering and torture, physically and mentally, they did not care about my injuries.”
Zubaydah was the first detainee subjected to Bush administration-approved harsh interrogation techniques, which included a simulated form of drowning known as waterboarding, slamming the suspect into walls and prolonged period of nudity.…Continue reading
April 23, 2009
by Prof. Marjorie Cohn
Hayden had confirmed that the Bush administration only waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zabaydah, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashirit for one minute each. I told Franks that I didn’t believe that. Sure enough, one of the newly released torture memos reveals that Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times and Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times. One of Stephen Bradbury’s 2005 memos asserted that “enhanced techniques” on Zubaydah yielded the identification of Mohammed and an alleged radioactive bomb plot by Jose Padilla. But FBI supervisory special agent Ali Soufan, who interrogated Zubaydah from March to June 2002, wrote in the New York Times that Zubaydah produced that information under traditional interrogation methods, before the harsh techniques were ever used.
Why, then, the relentless waterboarding of these two men? It turns out that high Bush officials put heavy pressure on Pentagon interrogators to get Mohammed and Zubaydah to reveal a link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 hijackers, in order to justify Bush’s illegal and unnecessary invasion of Iraq in 2003. That link was never established.
President Obama released the four memos in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU. They describe unimaginably brutal techniques and provide “legal” justification for clearly illegal acts of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. In the face of monumental pressure from the CIA to keep them secret, Obama demonstrated great courage in deciding to make the grotesque memos public. At the same time, however, in… Continue reading
April 21, 2009
by George Washington
5 hours after the 9/11 attacks, Donald Rumsfeld said “my interest is to hit Saddam”.
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 Pentagon, President 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.