Lawrence Wilkerson, former aide to Colin Powell when he was Secretary of State dropped a bombshell, alleging that torture was used on Al-Qaeda suspects to try and get a "smoking gun" that would link Iraq to the 911 attacks to make the case for invading Iraq.
Wilkerson wrote on the The Washington Note that the Bush Administration's "principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at preempting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al Qaeda,"
In one documented case Wilkerson said Cheney's office was notified that one Al-Qaeda prisoner was now "compliant" meaning that he was giving information and the torture techniques should stop. According to Wilkerson, Cheney's office ordered the CIA to continue the harsh techniques. Up until then, even under torture, the suspect, Ibn al- Shaykh al-Libi didn't give any information linking Iraq with Al-Qaeda. But according to Wilkerson, under water boarding and torture by Egyptian intelligence at the direction of the CIA through Cheney, al-Libi told interrogators that Sadaam had trained Al-Qaeda in how to produce chemical and biological weapons.
Bush used this "information" which was clearly fabricated by al-Libi to get the torture to stop, in a speech to Congress in October of 2002 as part of the his pressure on Congress to authorize war against Iraq.
As we now know, there was never any collaboration between Iraq and Al-Qaeda, and al-Libi later recanted the information saying it was made under torture by Egyptian intelligence.The truth of this is evident in that there was never any evidence found anywhere to substantiate the claim.
This bolsters the claim by interrogation professionals such as Ali Soufan, the top FBI Al-Qaeda interrogator, that torture was an unreliable method for gaining actionable intelligence since a subject would say anything to get the torture to stop.
These claims and allegations made by Wilkerson make Congressional hearings on Bush Administration torture a must. It is now not only a matter of the legality of torture and whether Bush, Cheney and others in his administration were guilty of breaking the law, but it goes to the heart of the Iraq war and whether these illegal techniques were used to get false information that Bush and Cheney used to justify the invasion of Iraq which was their goal from the beginning. As the Republicans are pointing out now in regards to Pelosi, lying to Congress is a crime and investigations into the Bush Adminstrations' pre-war claims about Iraq could make felons out of both Bush, Cheney and Rice, not to mention many more.
It has become clear that President Obama's moral ambivalence, wavering, indecisiveness and attempts at political appeasement must be brushed aside and that the Democratic Congress must take the lead and hold Congressional hearings, not just on the illegality of Bush Administration torture, but whether or not torture was used to gather information, as Wilkerson alleges, for the sole purpose of getting information, even false information as a justification to go to war in Iraq.
If any of that can be proved, it will be a scandal that will dwarf Watergate as the biggest scandal in the country's history and will turn many in the Bush Administration, including Bush himself into felons. So expect the Republicans to fight it tooth and nail.
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