Wednesday, May 20, 2009


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.


sue said...

Excellent post Marc- but now- what do we do? We who sit and read and call our representatives? What more to be done? COngress doesn't appear to want to pursue this, the POTUS doesn't want to pursue this- all the democrats in Washington yelled and screamed about torture but now they have the avenue to pursue investigations and nothing is being done-
I notice the MSM seems to have dropped this story like a hot potato- what can the citizens do to see this become a reality? And where are the journalists dogging this story?
I don't get it.

Marc Rubin said...

".. but now- what do we do?"

Letters, especially phone calls to the chairmen of the House Intelligence Committe and Senate Intelligence Committee as well as Sen. Leahy who is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee whose job it is to investigate whether laws were broken. Also to John Conyers who has wanted to go after Bush on Iraq for a long time and has been reined in by Obama.

Anonymous said...

There appears to be two sides to this story.

Marc Rubin said...

"There appears to be two sides to this story."

I read the Weekly Standard blog entry and the tortured logic of the writer is actually quite laughable.His main contention is a timeline issue where Wilkerson said Cheney issued the order to continue water boarding al-Libi in April or May but somehow the Weekly Standard "knows" that al-Libi made the claim in February.

First the Weekly Standard has no first hand information about anything and only knows what they are told and in this case probably by people sympathetic to Cheney.

Second even if the time line was accurate, Wilkerson made the point that Cheney had been told that the subject had become "compliant" meaning he was giving information and that the water boarding should stop. Wilkerson says Cheney ordered it to continue. If al-Libi was giving information as a result of water boarding in February it wouldnt change the allegations one bit -- that torture was used to fabricate information linking Iraq with Al-Qaeda. And it is very possible that al-Libi gave that information in February and continued to be tortured for more in April or May.

If the Weekly Standard wants to make an issue of time lines, how about Cheney's claim that waterboading Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in May 2003 prevented the attack on the Library Tower in LA when that plot was exposed and stopped in 2002.

Anonymous said...

Excellent Coment. Hearings would be nice, IF we had a professional Congress. Unfortuenately that is not the case.

An alternative to hearings would be the appointment of special prosecutors/investigators. My nominations would be Bruce Fein, and John Dean for the right and people like Cornell West and Jonathan Turly for the left. These people should be allowed to pick their own staff w/o interference from Congress or the Executive Branch.

They should be housed in the Supreme Court Bldg. have access to all documents/photos/videos. Anyone in an executive branch position who tries to contact them or pressure them, should be fired immediately with no recourse to severance or retirement pay. Anyone in Congress who interferes or tries to influence/pressure should be notified that a press conference will be held in their district/state providing their constituents with specific and lengthy details of their actions.

In this manner, we might be able to get an accurate unbiased final list of who should be prosecuted as a perpetrator, accomplice or accessory and for what specific crimes.

Anonymous said...

Colin Powell claims to have been unaware that EITs were used, and his aide was not only aware but has all the details of who, what, where and why. Half the people who should have known what was going on are claiming they didn't and the other half are all too eager to sing for their supper.

Who can actually believe that the likes of the Obama administration or this sitting Congress are the ones to trust to lead a truth commission or prosecutions or hearings; or hearings about truth commissions that could lead to prosecutions; or prosecutions that may lead to hearings about truth commissions; or even truth commissions that lead to prosecutorial hearings?

Would you, if you were legal counsel, have anything to do with any of it, knowing that you would very likely be prosecuted also, should you cross the wrong hair on the wrong azz?

sue said...

eagerly awaiting your take on Sotomayor- I don't know enough about her but she seems like a shoe-in on what I have observed this morning- will spend some time reading about her and look forward to your thoughts Marc

Rick said...

I think these days we have bigger fish to fry than this...