The Torture of A Detainee Gave Us the False Lead to Iraq

April 28, 2009 at 7:21 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

emptywheel has been working doubly hard at giving us a good understanding of the timing of the approval of torture. In this post, she offers the most important information of all.

At least according to the Senate narrative, they started discussing torture plans for Abu Zubaydah after February 22, 2002–when DIA first questioned Ibn Sheikh al-Libi’s claim of a tie between Iraq and al Qaeda that derived from torture. And they signed the Bybee Memo the day after the second DIA report questioning al-Libi’s Iraq-al Qaeda ties.

There is a third person who was waterboarded. And that one was the first one waterboarded, a man named Sheikh al-Libi. In December 2001, he was tortured, and to stop the torture, he gave the Americans what they wanted to hear—that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.

How do we know this information was used to push for the war in Iraq? Well, as emptywheel notes, you just have to read Colin Powell’s testimony to the UN in February 2003:

I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to al Qaeda.

Fortunately, this operative is now detained, and he has told his story. I will relate it to you now as he, himself, described it.

This senior al Qaeda terrorist was responsible for one of al Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan.

His information comes firsthand from his personal involvement at senior levels of al Qaeda. He says bin Laden and his top deputy in Afghanistan, deceased al Qaeda leader Mohammed Atef, did not believe that al Qaeda labs in Afghanistan were capable enough to manufacture these chemical or biological agents. They needed to go somewhere else. They had to look outside of Afghanistan for help. Where did they go? Where did they look? They went to Iraq.

The support that (inaudible) describes included Iraq offering chemical or biological weapons training for two al Qaeda associates beginning in December 2000. He says that a militant known as Abu Abdula Al-Iraqi (ph) had been sent to Iraq several times between 1997and 2000 for help in acquiring poisons and gases. Abdula Al-Iraqi (ph) characterized the relationship he forged with Iraqi officials as successful.

When Colin Powell says that the operative has been detained and is telling us his story, he fails to let his listeners know that he was tortured to tell that story, thus making the story unreliable.

And of course, the Bush administration felt that, hey, they got these little nuggets out of al-Libi, maybe Zubaydah will give more. So they waterboard him 83 times and think they get more. Then they capture KSM in March 2003. But they don’t have enough of a link yet between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. Surely the number 3 man in Al-Qaeda, KSM, can really spell it out. Much better credibility to get the #3 man to share the operational relationship between Saddam Hussein and OBL. But, as they tortured KSM, he had nothing for them. So they waterboarded him 183 times in March 2003.

March 2003.

Significant date for America. March 2003 is when we started the war in Iraq. Can you surmise why the Bush administration waterboarded KSM 183 times in March 2003?

They wanted the link. They wanted the proof. They wanted their little war against Saddam Hussein to have legitimacy because it really wasn’t legitimate. If they could prove a working relationship between Saddam Hussein and OBL, their war against Saddam would be legitimate. If not, their little war against Saddam would forever be under the cloud of illegitimacy. Hence why they tortured KSM.

There you have it folks. Torture gave us the Iraq War. The use of torture led to the deaths of hundreds of thosands of Iraqis, and over 4000 American soldiers so far. So much for keeping us safe.

Oh, and by the way, Senator John McCain on waterboarding:

“Anyone who knows what waterboarding is could not be unsure. It is a horrible torture technique used by Pol Pot,” – John McCain, October 2007.

Which is why he, of course, made it retroactively legal under the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

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