(8 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
Other than the fact that torture was used to extract confessions about a link between Iraq and al Qaiada, I think one of the most important things to come from the Senate Armed Services Report (warning: huge pdf) is the fact that the FBI refused to participate in the so-called “interrogations.”
From the report starting on page 18:
An unclassified version of the May 2008 report by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IP) confirmed that FBI agents “initially took the lead in interviewing Zubaydah at the CIA facility” but that “CIA personnel assumed control over the interviews” when they arrived at the facility.
The FBI agent told the DOJ Inspector General that he also “raised objections to these techniques to the CIA and told the CIA that it was ‘borderline torture.'”<…>
According to the DOJ Inspector General’s Report, FBI Counterterrorism Assistant Director Pat D’Amuro gave instruction to both FBI agents to “come home and not participate in CIA interrogation.” <…> The report said that around the time of Zubaydah’s interrogation, FBI Director Robert Mueller decided that FBI agents would not participate in interrogations involving techniques the FBI did not normally use in the United States, even though the OLC had determined that such techniques were legal.
This finding gives alot of credence to a report published in the NYT in September 2006 by David Johnston.
Before his capture, Mr. Zubaydah was regarded as a top bin Laden logistics chief who funneled recruits to training bases in Afghanistan and served as a communications link between Al Qaeda’s leadership and extremists in other countries.
As interrogators dug into his activities, however, they scaled back their assessment somewhat, viewing him more as the terror network’s personnel director and hotelier who ran a string of guest houses in Afghanistan and Pakistan.<…>
According to accounts from five former and current government officials who were briefed on the case, F.B.I. agents – accompanied by intelligence officers – initially questioned him using standard interview techniques. They bathed Mr. Zubaydah, changed his bandages, gave him water, urged improved medical care, and spoke with him in Arabic and English, languages in which he is fluent.<…>
For the C.I.A., Mr. Zubaydah was a test case for an evolving new role, conceived after Sept. 11, in which the agency was to act as jailer and interrogator for terrorism suspects.<…>
After Mr. Zubaydah’s capture, a C.I.A. interrogation team was dispatched from the agency’s counterterrorism center to take the lead in his questioning, former law enforcement and intelligence officials said, and F.B.I. agents were withdrawn. The group included an agency consultant schooled in the harsher interrogation procedures to which American special forces are subjected in their training. Three former intelligence officials said the techniques had been drawn up on the basis of legal guidance from the Justice Department, but were not yet supported by a formal legal opinion.
In Thailand, the new C.I.A. team concluded that under standard questioning Mr. Zubaydah was revealing only a small fraction of what he knew, and decided that more aggressive techniques were warranted.<…>
F.B.I. agents on the scene angrily protested the more aggressive approach, arguing that persuasion rather than coercion had succeeded. But leaders of the C.I.A. interrogation team were convinced that tougher tactics were warranted and said that the methods had been authorized by senior lawyers at the White House.
Ron Suskind discussed all of this last night with Rachel Maddow. In the beginning they discuss the use of torture to gain confessions for political purposes. The FBI’s role and position on all of this comes up at about 4:30.
I’m not usually a big fan of much related to law enforcement. But I’ll give the FBI and Director Mueller the credit they deserve on this one. And when the wingers want to dismiss what the military and CIA did as “legal harsh interrogation techniques,” lets just ask them why the FBI objected so strongly.