I’ve been thinking a lot about our current situation in the government. And the wars. And our current and seemingly never ending involvement with torture.
With the somewhat recent revelation that some suicides in 2006 were questionable at best, I’m reminded of the things happening in 2006 and why more investigations into the Bush administration are necessary.
by The Associated Press [via NPR]
January 18, 2010
Three Guantanamo Bay detainees whose deaths were ruled a suicide in 2006 apparently were transported from their cells hours before their deaths to a secret site on the island, according to an article in Harper’s magazine.
The published account released Monday raises serious questions about whether the three detainees actually died by hanging themselves in their cells and suggests the U.S. government is covering up details of what precisely happened in the hours before the deaths.
I first read about the suicides through that NPR article. It says the suicides likely happened at a facility near the main Gitmo facility, referred to as “Camp No.” The justification for setting up these facilities and for using this kind of interrogation technique is apparently 9/11:
After the terror attacks on U.S. soil on Sept. 11, 2001, the CIA set up a number of so-called “black” sites around the world, where harsh interrogations of terrorism-era suspects took place.
The Harper’s article suggested such a site at Guantanamo Bay may have belonged to the CIA or to the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command.
I remember 9/11. I remember how it was used as the justification for everything. I remember how people were tortured after 9/11 because they wouldn’t link 9/11 to Iraq and Saddam Hussein. I remember how the administration saw an opportunity with 9/11 and they went for it. When it didn’t work they tortured. They lied. They made up other claims that Hussein was buying yellowcake uranium from Niger.
Last time there was a whistleblower revealing evidence to hamper the Bush administration’s plans, I remember how they outed his CIA agent wife.
I remember how their link from 9/11 to Saddam Hussein, al-Libi gave bad information to authorities because he was tortured. And this information was revealed in a DIA report that Dick Cheney read. And he committed suicide. I wrote about it, in fact.
I’ll quote from myself, again. May 15, 2009:
Joe Wilson was sent by the CIA to investigate claims of Iraq trying to obtain yellowcake uranium from Africa:
Over the past months, however, the CIA has maintained that Wilson was chosen for the trip by senior officials in the Directorate of Operations counterproliferation division (CPD) — not by his wife — largely because he had handled a similar agency inquiry in Niger in 1999. On that trip, Plame, who worked in that division, had suggested him because he was planning to go there, according to Wilson and the Senate committee report.
Cheney had asked for more information on an intelligence report earlier on the same day questioning the link between Iraq and al Qaeda. In response to his request, the CIA sent Wilson to Africa, and an aide to Cheney testified that he had no idea his request would result in that trip.
So, he wanted information but didn’t think they’d send someone to get information?
The DIA in question had some very interesting and useful information. You’re definitely going to want to read this:
WASHINGTON — A government document raises doubts about claims that Al Qaeda members received training for biological and chemical weapons in Iraq, as Senate Democrats yesterday defended their push for a report on how the Bush administration handled prewar intelligence.
The document from February 2002 showed that the agency questioned the reliability of Al Qaeda senior military trainer Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi. He could not name any Iraqis involved in the effort or identify any chemical or biological materials or cite where the training took place, the report said.
The agency concluded that al-Libi probably misled the interrogators deliberately, and he recanted the statements in January, according to the document made public by Senator Carl Levin, top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The DIA report said that the links between al Qaeda and Iraq were probably not to be trusted and that al-Libi’s information was bad. This was made all the more strange when, in the midst of the Plame scandal, Karl Rove sent an email to the reporter Matthew Cooper, saying not to “get too far out” on Joe Wilson, the whistleblower, because the administration had information to discredit his findings and it was going to start declassifying things soon.
If they had this information, I don’t understand. This whole incident happened because Cheney asked the CIA for more information on the Iraq-AQ link and the Niger yellowcake. The CIA asked Joe Wilson to go to Niger because of his expertise on the subject, and Cheney says that the CIA misinterpreted his request and that he never wanted a trip to Niger. If there were information already to cast doubt on Wilson’s new information then why ask for any new information? It already existed!
Valerie Plame’s work consisted of monitoring WMDs going into and out of Iraq and Iran.
So, if they were trying to find a valid leak between Iraq and 9/11, why would the administration out a CIA agent whose husband revealed information that Cheney asked for anyway? What were they scared of?
What if it was the fear that the same DIA report exposed al-Libi’s torture – so they thought any information, even if they asked for it themselves, that came out of the trip needed to be discredited?
Cheney said he wasn’t aware of the trip and that he didn’t want it. Why not? They were investigating WMDs in Iraq! Terrorists and yellowcake uranium and state sponsored terror. And the administration didn’t WANT to send someone to investigate it and wasn’t even AWARE that it was happening?
The Nation said awhile ago:
In the spring of 2002 Dick Cheney made one of his periodic trips to CIA headquarters. Officers and analysts were summoned to brief him on Iraq. Paramilitary specialists updated the Vice President on an extensive covert action program in motion that was designed to pave the way to a US invasion. Cheney questioned analysts about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. How could they be used against US troops? Which Iraqi units had chemical and biological weapons? He was not seeking information on whether Saddam posed a threat because he possessed such weapons. His queries, according to a CIA officer at the briefing, were pegged to the assumptions that Iraq had these weapons and would be invaded–as if a decision had been made.
Valerie Wilson was no analyst or paper-pusher. She was an operations officer working on a top priority of the Bush Administration. Armitage, Rove and Libby had revealed information about a CIA officer who had searched for proof of the President’s case. In doing so, they harmed her career and put at risk operations she had worked on and foreign agents and sources she had handled.
(Valerie Plame) Wilson, too, occasionally flew overseas to monitor operations.
They revealed information on a CIA agent who was searching for proof of the President’s case. Sounds counterintuitive – unless there were no case and unless that trip would reveal that there was no case, and possibly reveal the torture of al-Libi.
This brings me to the apparent war within the government and against the CIA, and the so-called suicide of al-Libi:
As the Washington Post wrote:
The 2002 mission grew out of a request by Vice President Cheney on Feb. 12 for more information about a Defense Intelligence Agency report he had received that day, according to a 2004 report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. An aide to Cheney would later say he did not realize at the time that this request would generate such a trip.
He wanted to get information mainly about this information released in this report. So he was aware from at least February 2002 onward that two major claims the administration was making were false. So when the linked article on the front page post (at Orange) says:
“I’m aware of the fact that in late 2002, early 2003, that (the alleged al Qaida-Iraq link) was an interest on the intelligence side…. That was something they were tasked to look at.”
He said he was unaware of the origins of the directive, but a former senior U.S. intelligence official has told McClatchy that Cheney’s and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s offices were demanding that information in 2002 and 2003. The official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter, requested anonymity.
That’s right. They sought the information from February 2002 at least. Probably earlier. I’m wondering, was al Libi tortured before the February report or after? Was he tortured and subsequently gave bad information and was then questioned in the report, or was he giving information that seemed to suggest there was no link, and then he was tortured?
Then the administration made an illogical decision:
But when Tenet insisted in his personal meetings with the president that there was no connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq, Cheney and Rumsfeld initiated a secret program to re-examine the evidence and marginalize the agency and Tenet.
They did re-examine the evidence according to this, but I question how far they actually went in doing that. And they immediately initiated yet another Cheney-esque secret program, this time to marginalize the CIA (who was sending people to investigate WMD claims and torture.)
That brings us to marginalizing the CIA. It’s interesting how most or all of the leaks or stories were meant to make the CIA look untrustworthy or worse.
Here is one such example, of a Judith Miller story, where she conspicuously cites Bush administration officials and mentions them multiple times, including their false claims which ran counter to the CIA’s claims… but didn’t cite any CIA officials.
Then Valerie Plame’s identity was leaked. A CIA agent working in counterproliferation who could’ve helped Cheney bolster his case… if his facts had been actual facts. She would know. People focused on the fact that she sent or did not send Wilson to Niger. Controversy ensued.
Al Libi was forgotten and no more information was sought.
I asked a bunch of questions about this:
Regardless of WHEN al Libi was tortured, for now, why was he tortured when it produces false information if Cheney really wanted information? Why didn’t Cheney support Wilson’s trip? Why didn’t Cheney support efforts to find who outed Plame given that she was one of the few people who could have helped him find real information about links between Iraq and al Qaeda?
And when WAS al Libi tortured? Was his torture in danger of being discovered if investigators started snooping around regarding that DIA’s claims?
As the front page (at Orange) says, he requested raw reports because he didn’t like the information he was being given and he got that DIA and wanted more information. He still wasn’t being given information he wanted. Then they started declassifying and leaking their own information.
It seems like the entire administration got so far out of hand there was no control over any aspects. Doublecrossing, tortured prisoners, suspect suicides, outing of CIA agents, marginalization, WMDs in foreign countries and possibly in terrorist hands… what happened here?
All of that leads to the suicides, the Harper’s story:
A separate report, the result of an “informal investigation” initiated by Admiral Harris, found that standard operating procedures were violated that night but concluded that disciplinary action was not warranted because of the “generally permissive environment” of the cell block and the numerous “concessions” that had been made with regard to the prisoners’ comfort, which “concessions” had resulted in a “general confusion by the guard and the JDG staff over many of the rules that applied to the guard force’s handling of the detainees.” According to Harris, even had standard operating procedures been followed, “it is possible that the detainees could have successfully committed suicide anyway.”
This is the official story, adopted by NCIS and Guantánamo command and reiterated by the Justice Department in formal pleadings, by the Defense Department in briefings and press releases, and by the State Department. Now four members of the Military Intelligence unit assigned to guard Camp Delta, including a decorated non-commissioned Army officer who was on duty as sergeant of the guard the night of June 9, have furnished an account dramatically at odds with the NCIS report-a report for which they were neither interviewed nor approached.
This is what whistleblowers allege really happened in 2006, the same time period as everything else that was going on, in the midst of the Bush government:
All four soldiers say they were ordered by their commanding officer not to speak out, and all four soldiers provide evidence that authorities initiated a cover-up within hours of the prisoners’ deaths. Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman and men under his supervision have disclosed evidence in interviews with Harper’s Magazine that strongly suggests the three prisoners who died on June 9 had been transported to another location prior to their deaths. The guards’ accounts also reveal the existence of a previously unreported black site at Guantánamo where the deaths, or at least the events that led directly to the deaths, most likely occurred.
The article says that the Obama administration has, of course, not seriously investigated any of these things and that is exacerbating the problem. This looks like an all-out inter-departmental war in our government and it needs to be thoroughly investigated and corrected, or who knows what the fallout will be?