August 29, 2009
NYC Letter: Trust Team Barry, Part X - Debriefing Khalid Sheik Mohammed
Day 221 of CHOPE
I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year. (Applause.)
delivering the terrorist applause line
and reassuring terrosrists worldwide
that American detention will not go beyond
three squares a day and a team of lawyers
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON A NEW BEGINNING
CAIRO UNIVERSITY, CAIRO June 4, 2009 (White House)
HOW A DETAINEE BECAME AN ASSET
Sept. 11 Plotter Cooperated After Waterboarding
August 29, 2009 (WaPo) - After enduring the CIA's harshest interrogation methods and spending more than a year in the agency's secret prisons, Khalid Sheik Mohammed stood before U.S. intelligence officers in a makeshift lecture hall, leading what they called "terrorist tutorials."
In 2005 and 2006, the bearded, pudgy man who calls himself the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks discussed a wide variety of subjects, including Greek philosophy and al-Qaeda dogma. In one instance, he scolded a listener for poor note-taking and his inability to recall details of an earlier lecture.
Speaking in English, Mohammed "seemed to relish the opportunity, sometimes for hours on end, to discuss the inner workings of al-Qaeda and the group's plans, ideology and operatives," said one of two sources who described the sessions, speaking on the condition of anonymity because much information about detainee confinement remains classified. "He'd even use a chalkboard at times."
URGENCY AND SCALE
What To Do When The Bad Guys Won't Talk?
These scenes provide previously unpublicized details about the transformation of the man known to U.S. officials as KSM from an avowed and truculent enemy of the United States into what the CIA called its "preeminent source" on al-Qaeda. This reversal occurred after Mohammed was subjected to simulated drowning and prolonged sleep deprivation, among other harsh interrogation techniques.
"KSM, an accomplished resistor, provided only a few intelligence reports prior to the use of the waterboard, and analysis of that information revealed that much of it was outdated, inaccurate or incomplete," according to newly unclassified portions of a 2004 report by the CIA's then-inspector general released Monday by the Justice Department.
Everyone wants to be on the right side of the torture question, but what side is that? [Pause.] Liberals believe no torture as an absolute injunction is the right side. [Pause.] Except in Cuba, which gets a pass because it is a progressive revolutionary republic or something.* [Pause.] And China (and this) because human rights are bad for business.
Mr. Obama keeps trying but can't quite manage to transform Mr. Bush's war on terror into a John Kerry criminal nuisance. (For examples, here and here and here and here and here.) It is not that Mr. Obama is not a liberal, but he realizes what every liberal knows in his secret heart -- there is no credible liberal alternative to extract critical information from a terrorist in a reliable and timely manner.
The liberal approach to the likes of Mr. Khalid is to appeal to some hidden human goodness; if that fails, to cajole, to coax, to ask pretty please-with-sugar-on-top; if these fail, to pout or sulk, to sting with accusations of hurt feelings. And, should all else fail, the soft cushions! The comfy chair!
- Ximinez: Now, old woman -- you are accused of heresy on three counts -- heresy by thought, heresy by word, heresy by deed, and heresy by action -- *four* counts. Do you confess?
Wilde: I don't understand what I'm accused of.
Ximinez: Ha! Then we'll make you understand! Biggles! Fetch...THE CUSHIONS!
[Biggles holds out two ordinary modern household cushions]
Biggles: Here they are, lord.
Ximinez: Now, old lady -- you have one last chance. Confess the heinous sin of heresy, reject the works of the ungodly -- *two* last chances. And you shall be free -- *three* last chances. You have three last chances, the nature of which I have divulged in my previous utterance.
Wilde: I don't know what you're talking about.
Ximinez: Right! If that's the way you want it -- Cardinal! Poke her with the soft cushions!
[Biggles carries out this rather pathetic torture]
Ximinez: Confess! Confess! Confess!
Biggles: It doesn't seem to be hurting her, lord.
Ximinez: Have you got all the stuffing up one end?
Biggles: Yes, lord.
Ximinez: [Angrily tosses the cushions] Hm! She is made of harder stuff! Cardinal Fang! Fetch...THE COMFY CHAIR!
The hard truth -- the unbearable truth for liberals -- is that there is not an all-purpose "right" side to the torture question. The urgency of circumstances and the scale of the threat that pit a detained terrorist's rights against the rights -- murder being a violation of the first and most fundamental American right -- of tens or hundreds or thousands or just one innocent justify torture. This is a crude formulation. However to pretend that civil entreaties or clever subterfuges are sufficient to obtain crucial information from terrorists is not merely irresponsible, it is dishonest. To remove torture from the national security arsenal, as Mr. Obama has recklessly done, is to hearten terrorists everywhere.
In a Gore-Kerry-Obama post 9.11 America, Mr. Khalid would have had nothing to say. [Pause.] Maybe some giggles with Lynne Stewart.
The magic CHOPEy word for obtaining secret terrorist info -- Please, please, please.
* UPDATE 08.30.09: Also see here.