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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Suskind: The President Knows More Than He Lets On

Here's part of an interview with terrorism expert Ron Suskind. This isn't about economics, but I thought you should know that capturing and threatening "grievous injury" to young children is one of our interrogation methods:

"The President Knows More Than He Lets On", Spiegel Online: One hundred suspected terrorists from all over the world are still being held in secret American prisons. In an interview with Spiegel Online, CIA expert Ron Suskind accuses Washington of "running like a headless chicken" in its war against al-Qaida. He reserves special criticism for the CIA's torture methods, which he argues are unproductive.

Spiegel Online: Mr. Suskind, the Red Cross recently visited all of the prisoners at Guantanamo who had been transferred from secret CIA prisons, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh. Do we know more about these CIA prisons, or "Black Sites" as a result of this visit?

Suskind: We know that almost everything from the tool kit was tried: extraordinary techniques that included hot and cold water-boarding and threats of various kinds. We tried virtually everything with Binalshibh. But he was resistant, and my understanding of that interrogation is that we got very, very little from it. At one point, there was some thinking that we should put out misinformation that Binalshihb had been cooperative, he had received money and he was living in luxury. So that would mean that his friends and family, who obviously are known to al-Qaida, might face retribution, and we ended up not doing that.

Spiegel Online: And what happened to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed?

Suskind: He was really the prize. He is the 9/11 operational planner, a kind of general in the al-Qaida firmament. He was water-boarded, hot and cold, all matter of deprivations, beatings, threats. He told us some things, but frankly things that professional interrogators say could have been gotten otherwise.

Spiegel Online: With waterboarding, the prisoner is made to feel as though he is drowning, even if he isn't really at risk of dying. There are reports that Mohammed was a kind of unofficial record-holder when it came to waterboarding.

Suskind: With extraordinary minutes passing he earned a sort of grudging respect from interrogators. The thing they did with Mohammed is that we had captured his children, a boy and a girl, age 7 and 9. And at the darkest moment we threatened grievous injury to his children if he did not cooperate. His response was quite clear: "That's fine. You can do what you want to my children, and they will find a better place with Allah." ...

Spiegel Online: With all your access to high-level sources, have you come across anyone who still thinks it is a good idea for the US to torture people?

Suskind: No. Most of the folks involved say that we made mistakes at the start. The president wants to keep all options open because he never wants his hands tied in any fashion, as he says, because he doesn't know what's ahead. But those involved in the interrogation protocol, I think are more or less in concert in saying that, in our panic in the early days, we made some mistakes.

Spiegel Online: Because they could have gotten information through normal interrogations ...

Suskind: ... yes, and without paying this terrific price, namely: America's moral standing. We poured plenteous gasoline on the fires of jihadist recruitment.

Spiegel Online: So the average interrogator at a Black Site understands more about the mistakes made than the president?

Suskind: The president understands more about the mistakes than he lets on. He knows what the most-skilled interrogators know too. He gets briefed, and he was deeply involved in this process from the beginning. The president loves to talk to operators. ...

I hope this isn't true. I don't want to believe that we would ever capture and threaten to harm children, serious or not:

The thing they did with Mohammed is that we had captured his children, a boy and a girl, age 7 and 9. And at the darkest moment we threatened grievous injury to his children if he did not cooperate.

I don't usually reach this level of outrage, but if Bush knew about and approved threats to harm children, or if he has done nothing to investigate and punish those making the threats now that they have come to light, then impeachment is the least he deserves. Torture of anyone is outrageous, it is never okay in my opinion, but to capture and threaten to harm children is beyond any feasible bound.

    Posted by on Saturday, October 28, 2006 at 12:53 PM in Economics, Iraq and Afghanistan, Politics, Terrorism | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (228)

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