Detainee’s Harsh Treatment Foiled No Plots
Waterboarding, Rough Interrogation of Abu Zubaida Produced False Leads, Officials Say
By Peter Finn and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, March 29, 2009; A01
When CIA officials subjected their first high-value captive, Abu Zubaida, to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods, they were convinced that they had in their custody an al-Qaeda leader who knew details of operations yet to be unleashed, and they were facing increasing pressure from the White House to get those secrets out of him.
The methods succeeded in breaking him, and the stories he told of al-Qaeda terrorism plots sent CIA officers around the globe chasing leads.
In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida’s tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.
Moreover, within weeks of his capture, U.S. officials had gained evidence that made clear they had misjudged Abu Zubaida. President George W. Bush had publicly described him as “al-Qaeda’s chief of operations,” and other top officials called him a “trusted associate” of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and a major figure in the planning of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. None of that was accurate, the new evidence showed.
Gosh, a tortured suspect telling his torturers exactly what they want to hear? Who’d have thunk? I mean, doesn’t the CIA ever watch TV?
I refuse to believe anything the Bush administration told us, and now more and more it seems that I was wise to do so. Of course, the biggest, well, lie they’ve continued to tell is that they were keeping us safe and that they were obviously doing the right thing because there were no further attacks — that pesky, unprovable negative.
Refutations of their lies were happening while they were still in office — WMD? Iraq behind 9/11? Anyone? Anyone? — so this is no surprise, but I can’t help but wonder how many more lies, cover-ups and scandals will be uncovered over the next few years… even in the next decade?