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August 12, 2009

Who Is This Guy?

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline,Torture and Abuse — kevinfenton @ 2:49 pm
Tags: , , , ,

A couple of months ago, Newsweek had an interview with former FBI agent Ali Soufan, who was involved in the USS Cole bombing investigation and was taken off detainee interrogations after 9/11 due to the detainees being tortured.

I found this passage, about an argument Soufan had with CIA officials and contractors about (not) torturing Abu Zubaida in Thailand, to be most interesting:

As Soufan tells the story, he challenged a CIA official at the scene about the agency’s legal authority to do what it was doing. “We’re the United States of America, and we don’t do that kind of thing,” he recalls shouting at one point. But the CIA official, whom Soufan refuses to name because the agent’s identity is still classified, brushed aside Soufan’s concerns. He told him in April 2002 that the aggressive techniques already had gotten approval from the “highest levels” in Washington, says Soufan. The official even waved a document in front of Soufan, saying the approvals “are coming from Gonzales,” a reference to Alberto Gonzales, then the White House counsel and later the attorney general. (A lawyer for Gonzales declined to comment.)

I would give my back teeth to know who the CIA official whose identity is still classified is (even under the usual pseudonym, if one is used for him). A guess that occurs to me is that it is the official we call Rich B, who was heavily involved in the CIA’s torture and rendition programme at this point, but was station chief in Kabul, not Thailand.

This passage is doubly interesting because, as far as I know, there is no known document produced by Gonzales (or anyone else) authorising the techniques by this point (April 2002). So either the official made it up, or there is a “missing” torture authorisation lying around somewhere.

4 Comments »

  1. Kevin, you might read over some of the material I’ve posted on Soufan. Some of it is in draft and not yet available to public view (sorry, guys! I’m working as fast as I can), but you might find it illuminating. I’ve also got several entries on Soufan that I’ve not yet posted. Would you like me to “jump the queue” and post them now? I don’t know if they will answer your questions, but they might provide some info.

    As for this: “This passage is doubly interesting because, as far as I know, there is no known document produced by Gonzales (or anyone else) authorising the techniques by this point (April 2002).” you’re right. Even the ACLU hasn’t alleged a missing document from this time period. The August 1, 2002 “golden shield” memo was supposed to provide backdated coverage, but that isn’t legally viable (like any of that crap coming from Yoo, Bybee, and the others had much legal viability to begin with). It seems to me that the investigations into torture Holder is promising will begin with pre-August 1 violations of the law, and cover some of the material that both you and I are curious about.

    Comment by Max — August 12, 2009 @ 11:04 pm | Reply

  2. May, I see what you wrote about Soufan in draft.

    If there is an investigation into what the CIA did outside the torture memos, then I see no way it could leave out the interrogation of Abu Zubaida, which started several months before the first memo was issued. My main interest in the torture issue is how it got started, so what Holder is said to be proposing seems, at this point, fine in that regard.

    Comment by kevinfenton — August 13, 2009 @ 12:56 am | Reply

  3. >>My main interest in the torture issue is how it got started, so what Holder is said to be proposing seems, at this point, fine in that regard.

    I’m hoping that once Holder gets the ball rolling, it will become unstoppable, ensuring that the investigation expands to cover much more than “just” the people who went past the briefs submitted by the DoJ.

    Side note: I’ve done several entries on the Soufan interview in Newsweek.

    Comment by Max — August 13, 2009 @ 11:15 am | Reply

  4. I remember Tenet making a huge deal out of defending his people at the CIA. His comments reminded me of the way Bush hid his own corrupt conduct behind the troops (i.e. the propaganda suggested that criticizing Bush was the very same thing as criticizing soldiers in harms way). Tenet apparently went along with the withholding of al Qaeda information in the lead up to 9/11. He went along with the torture policy. He went along with the Iraq WMD deception. The point being if Tenet truly was concerned about his people at the CIA then he wouldn’t have betrayed them over and over again.

    Comment by Mike — August 16, 2009 @ 10:20 am | Reply


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