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September 21, 2008

Detainee Abuse Timeline: Rendition Category Split

Filed under: Torture and Abuse — kevinfenton @ 2:57 pm
Tags: , ,

The old category covering rendition at the Detainee Abuse Timeline has been split. There are now separate categories for rendition before 9/11 and rendition after 9/11.

More entries will be added to the rendition before 9/11 category, in particular, in the near future.

The reason for the split is that, unsurprisingly, there are a number of differences in how the program was implemented before and after 9/11, and we wanted to highlight some of these aspects. For example, before 9/11, the CIA ignored the information tortured out of detainees because they knew it was meaningless, whereas after the attacks they lapped it up. It is also interesting to note that Bill Clinton himself was in two minds about the program and it was only a bon mot from the sainted Al Gore that got him to give it the green light.

Another interesting point is that a CIA officer named Rich B is a prime mover in the program before and after 9/11.


  1. A strange aspect of the torture program is that we are told CIA had no experience in interrogation. If this is true then why on earth were they chosen to take the lead? Later on, because there was no outside review, CIA could (and did) claim their reverse engineered SERE torture methods were wildly successful. But before these claims of success a choice was made between the FBI’s methods and those favored by the “let’s take the gloves off” crowd at the CIA. We know that the White House sided with the CIA but the actual reasons for the choice remain unclear.

    Comment by Mike — September 22, 2008 @ 2:55 am | Reply

  2. I doubt the CIA was unaware of torture techniques before 9/11. Here’s an essay about it by Alfred McCoy:

    I don’t think they were chosen to take the lead. The way it happened is that the FBI naturally took the lead on the al-Libi case and Fincher started interviewing him, then Rich B protested, got Tenet to take it up with Bush, and Bush sided with Tenet against the FBI. So the CIA got al-Libi and shipped him off to Egypt, where he claimed AQ was in league with SH. I think Bush picked Tenet over Mueller just because he liked Tenet better, maybe he liked the idea of taking the gloves off as well. One thought that occurs to me is that the FBI’s stock was low at the White House at this time because it could not solve the anthrax attacks.

    Comment by kevinfenton — September 22, 2008 @ 2:51 pm | Reply

  3. Poor choice of words. You are right, the FBI was in charge at the beginning. Only later did CIA get control of the detainees and thus the interrogations. I recently read Mayer’s book (The Dark Side) and most of it is related to the torture program. One explanation put forth is that the White House was frustrated with the slow pace and lack of intel yet the FBI agents felt they were getting good intel. Addington and Cheney come across as rabid advocates of torture. I wonder if there was some sort of meeting between the VP Office and some CTC officials where they decision was made, then presented for Bush’s approval. Their motive being the use of false confessions for political purposes.

    Comment by Mike — September 22, 2008 @ 9:33 pm | Reply

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