Imagine what would happen if Mir Hussein Moussavi disappeared into Evin prison this afternoon and then a few days later Mahmoud Ahmadinejad emerged to say that Moussavi, under the kind of harsh questioning necessary to protect the Islamic Republic from outside subversion, had confessed to being a paid agent of the CIA. Then imagine Ahmadinejad added that his intelligence agents told him that information resulting from Moussavi’s interrogation had disrupted CIA planning across the country. How credible would you consider these assertions?
In that spirit, consider some newly-declassified information from the so-called Combatant Status Review Tribunals — a now-abandoned procedure to determine if a detainee posed a threat to U.S. interests — at Guantanamo Bay of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah. KSM:
"I make up stories," Mohammed said, describing in broken English an interrogation probably administered by the CIA concerning the whereabouts of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. "Where is he? I don’t know. Then, he torture me," Mohammed said of his interrogator. "Then I said, ‘Yes, he is in this area.’ "
"They told me, ‘Sorry, we discover that you are not Number 3, not a partner, not even a fighter,’ " said Abu Zubaida, speaking in broken English, according to the new transcript of a Combatant Status Review Tribunal held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Now, according to Dick Cheney — and, just so we don’t get distracted, I AM NOT SAYING DICK CHENEY IS AS BAD AS MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD — there are two CIA documents from 2004 and 2005 wherein the CIA vouched for the accuracy of information it obtained from torturing Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah. It would be nice to see those documents. But what could they possibly indicate other than that the agency told Dick Cheney what he wanted to hear about a cherished interrogation program? Or are we to believe that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is lying about having lied? His diabolical skills of deception are just that good? Waterboarding him 183 times, denying him sleep for a week by contorting his body into unnatural positions, restricting his diet to between 1000 and 1500 calories a day — that’s the stuff that works, not any of the rapport-building crap that trained interrogators like Ali Soufan of the FBI advocate because of, like, their experience.
On Friday, the CIA will release a 2004 report on interrogations and detentions written by former inspector general John Helgerson, a report referenced in the recently declassified Office of Legal Counsel documents from 2005. Read it and ask: what would we say about this behavior if another country performed it?
Crossposted to The Streak.