In fact, what Abu Zubaydah disclosed to the CIA during this period was that the fact that KSM was the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks and that his code name was “Muktar” — something Zubaydah thought we already knew, but in fact we did not. Intelligence officials had been trying for months to figure out who “Muktar” was. This information provided by Zubaydah was a critical piece of the puzzle that allowed them to pursue and eventually capture KSM. This fact, in and of itself, discredits the premise of the Post story — to suggest that the capture of KSM was not information that “foiled plots” to attack America is absurd on the face of it.
Now first of all lets get something straight. Marc Thiessen is not some expert on national security. Marc Thiessen is nothing more than a speech writer. By trade he was the spin doctor for the Bush Administration. Why the mainstream media is giving this guy any credibility on this issue is beyond me because he doesn't deserve any. But lets get to why its dangerous to allow propaganda into legitimate policy discussions. First and foremost its because propaganda is usually built on false premises and lies. Such is the case with Theissens's post as we find from this Newsweek story on Ali Soufan, the actual FBI interrogator who was intimately involved in evidence gathering on al Qaeda post 9-11.
But Soufan had poured through the bureau's intelligence files and stunned Abu Zubaydah when he called him "Hani"—the nickname that his mother used for him. Soufan also showed him photos of a number of terror suspects who were high on the bureau's priority list. Abu Zubaydah looked at one of them and said, "That's Mukhtar."
Now it was Soufan who was stunned. The FBI had been trying to determine the identity of a mysterious "Mukhtar," whom bin Laden kept referring to on a tape he made after 9/11. Now Soufan knew: Mukhtar was the man in the photo, terror fugitive Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and, as Abu Zubaydah blurted out, " the one behind 9/11."
Not only was it NOT the CIA that Zubaydah revealed that Khalid Sheik Muhammed was "Mukhtar", it also wasn't the result of any torture techniques committed BY the CIA. Rather normal FBI interrogation techniques lead to perhaps the biggest break in the case of trying to find the mastermind behind 9-11.
The rest of the Newsweek piece is full of other important revelations and its definitely worth the full read. But for now I just want to say that it is totally irresponsible for the MSM to continue allowing Thiessen to take part in the public debate over whether or not we should investigate the torture of enemy detainees. He has now shown that either he lacks the knowledge to be credible on the issue or, more nefariously, is willing to lie about the facts in order to sway public opinion his way. Whichever is the case what is apparent is that his words are not to be trusted and I really hope that his microphone is taken away from him.
Some other useful excerpts from the Newsweek piece:
The agent, Ali Soufan, was known as one of the bureau's top experts on Al Qaeda. He also had a reputation as a shrewd interrogator who could work fluently in both English and Arabic. Soufan yelled at one CIA contractor and told him that what he was doing was wrong, ineffective and an affront to American values. At one point, Soufan discovered a dark wooden "confinement box" that the contractor had built for Abu Zubaydah. It looked, Soufan recalls, "like a coffin." The mercurial agent erupted in anger, got on a secure phone line and called Pasquale D'Amuro, then the FBI assistant director for counterterrorism. "I swear to God," he shouted, "I'm going to arrest these guys!"
D'Amuro and other officials were alarmed at what they heard from Soufan. They fretted about the political consequences of abusive interrogations and the Washington blowback they thought was inevitable, say two high-ranking FBI sources who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. According to a later Justice Department inspector general's report, D'Amuro warned FBI Director Bob Mueller that such activities would eventually be investigated. "Someday, people are going to be sitting in front of green felt tables having to testify about all of this," D'Amuro said, according to one of the sources.
Mueller ordered Soufan and a second FBI agent home. He then directed that bureau personnel no longer participate in CIA interrogations. In the corridors of the White House, Justice Department and U.S. intelligence agencies, heated debates ensued. Three months later, on Aug. 1, 2002, Justice lawyers issued a chilling memo blessing everything the CIA contractors had proposed—including waterboarding, or simulated drowning, a ghoulish technique that was administered to Abu Zubaydah 83 times.
As the sessions continued, Soufan engaged Abu Zubaydah in long discussions about his world view, which included a tinge of socialism. After Abu Zubaydah railed one day about the influence of American imperialist corporations, he asked Soufan to get him a Coca-Cola—a request that prompted the two of them to laugh. Soon enough, Abu Zubaydah offered up more information—about the bizarre plans of a jihadist from Puerto Rico to set off a "dirty bomb" inside the country. This information led to Padilla's arrest in Chicago by the FBI in early May.
But the tenor of the Abu Zubaydah interrogations changed a few days later, when a CIA contractor showed up. Although Soufan declined to identify the contractor by name, other sources (and media accounts) identify him as James Mitchell, a former Air Force psychologist who had worked on the U.S. military's Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training—a program to teach officers how to resist the abusive interrogation methods used by Chinese communists during the Korean War. Within days of his arrival, Mitchell—an architect of the CIA interrogation program—took charge of the questioning of Abu Zubaydah. He directed that Abu Zubaydah be ordered to answer questions or face a gradual increase in aggressive techniques. One day Soufan entered Abu Zubadyah's room and saw that he had been stripped naked; he covered him with a towel.
The confrontations began. "I asked [the contractor] if he'd ever interrogated anyone, and he said no," Soufan says. But that didn't matter, the contractor shot back: "Science is science. This is a behavioral issue." The contractor suggested Soufan was the inexperienced one. "He told me he's a psychologist and he knows how the human mind works." Mitchell told NEWSWEEK, "I would love to tell my story." But then he added, "I have signed a nondisclosure agreement that will not even allow me to correct false allegations."
The tipping point came when, after a few weeks, Soufan saw the coffinlike box that Mitchell had constructed. Soufan refuses to say what he was told the box was for. But other sources who heard accounts of the confrontation say the idea was to stage a "mock burial." (A CIA spokesman says, "The CIA's high-value-detainee program did not include mock burials. That wasn't done.") When an incensed Soufan told his superior what was happening, the response was quick: D'Amuro told him to leave the scene of the interrogations. Then, a few days later, he was told, "Come on home." Now the debate Soufan began in Thailand has come home, too. If given the opportunity, he may again play a starring role