Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Major Update: Abu Zubaydah Captured and Held at Gitmo Since 2002 Seeks Release

Abu Zubaydah seen in 2002 (Later wounded and captured in Pakistan)
(Real name: Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn)

Abu Zubaydah in 2016 at Gitmo Detention Center

MAJOR UPDATE with this headlines from the NY Times

Abu Zubaydah, Tortured Guantánamo Detainee, Makes Case for Release

Extract from that article is here: Over 14 years in American custody, Abu Zubaydah, has come to symbolize, perhaps more than any other prisoner, how fear of terrorism after the September 11, 2001, attacks changed the United States.

He was the first detainee to be water boarded (over 80 times), and his brutal torture later was documented in a U.S. Senate report. He is among those held without charges and with no likelihood of a trial. The government long ago admitted that he was never the top leader of al-Qaeda that it had claimed at the time of his capture in 2002, but still insists today that he may still be dangerous and cannot be released.

In all that time, Mr. Zubaydah, now 45, had never been seen by the outside world. That changed on Tuesday, as his calm face was beamed via video feed from the Guantánamo Bay military prison to a Pentagon conference room.

That story continues at the link provided above.

His original capture and story follow here with this original background from April 23, 2009 also in the NY Times written by Ali Soufan former FBI supervisory special agent from 1997 to 2005. Mr. Soufan was the first to interrogate Abu Zubaydah and gain valuable intelligence without any harsh interrogation techniques. The following is in Agent Soufan’s own words from that article regarding that ordeal:

“For seven years I have remained silent about the false claims magnifying the effectiveness of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like water boarding. I have spoken only in closed government hearings, as these matters were classified. But the release of the four Justice Department memos on interrogations allows me to shed light on the story, and on some of the lessons to be learned.  One of the most striking parts of the memos is the false premises on which they are based. The first, dated August 2002, grants authorization to use harsh interrogation techniques on a high-ranking terrorist, Abu Zubaydah, on the grounds that previous methods hadn’t been working.

“The next three memos cite the successes of those methods as a justification for their continued use. It is inaccurate, however, to say that Abu Zubaydah had been uncooperative. Along with another FBI agent, and with several C.I.A. officers present, I questioned him from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August. Under traditional interrogation methods, he provided us with important actionable intelligence such as for example that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. He then told us about Jose Padilla, the so-called dirty bomber. This experience fit what I had found throughout my counter terrorism career: traditional interrogation techniques are successful in identifying operatives, uncovering plots and saving lives.

“There was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained from regular tactics. In addition, I saw that using these alternative methods on other terrorists backfired on more than a few occasions — all of which are still classified. The short sightedness behind the use of these techniques ignored the unreliability of the methods, the nature of the threat, the mentality and modus operandi of the terrorists, and due process.

“Defenders of these techniques have claimed that they got Abu Zubaydah to give up information leading to the capture of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a top aide to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and Mr. Padilla. This is false. The information that led to Mr. Shibh’s capture came primarily from a different terrorist operative who was interviewed using traditional methods. As for Mr. Padilla, the dates just don’t add up: the harsh techniques were approved in the memo of August 2002, Mr. Padilla had been arrested in May 2002!!

“An FBI colleague of mine who knew more about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed than anyone in the government was not allowed to speak to him. It has been the right decision to release these memos, as we need the truth to come out. This should not be a partisan matter, because it is in our national security interest to regain our position as the world’s foremost defenders of human rights. Just as important, releasing these memos enables us to begin the tricky process of finally bringing these terrorists to justice.

“The debate after the release of these memos has centered on whether C.I.A. officials should be prosecuted for their role in harsh interrogation techniques. That would be a mistake. Almost all the agency officials I worked with on these issues were good people who felt as I did about the use of enhanced techniques: it is un-American, ineffective and harmful to our national security.

“Fortunately for me, after I objected to the enhanced techniques, the message came through from Pat D’Amuro, an FBI assistant director stating: “We don’t do that.” Then I was pulled out of the interrogation by the FBI director, Robert Mueller (this was documented in the report released last year by the Justice Department’s inspector general).

“My CIA colleagues who balked at the techniques, on the other hand, were instructed to continue. (It’s worth noting that when reading between the lines of the newly released memos, it seems clear that it was contractors, not CIA officers, who requested the use of these techniques.)

“As we move forward, it’s important to not allow the torture issue to harm the reputation, and thus the effectiveness, of the CIA. The agency is essential to our national security. We must ensure that the mistakes behind the use of these techniques are never repeated.


“Some of the first questions asked of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed upon his capture and during the time during which he was water boarded were about possible connections between al-Qaeda and Iraq. KSM as he is called is the mastermind of the September 11 attacks. He was captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on March 1, 2003. According to Office of Legal Counsel (Bush’s legal office) memos released, he was water boarded 183 times that same month.

“The substance of the intelligence that was being sought from him has been an object of some speculation, with several defenders of the interrogation practice arguing that the goal was to prevent an impending attack on America. But a line buried on page 353 of the July 2004Select Committee on Intelligence report (523 pages) on pre-Iraq war intelligence strongly suggests that the interrogation was just as centered on a possible Iraq-al-Qaeda link as terrorist activity (thus a foundation for the invasion of Iraq).

“CTC [Counter Terrorist Center] noted that the questions regarding al-Qaida's ties to the Iraqi regime were among the first presented to senior al-Qaida operational planner Khalid Shaikh Muhammad following his capture. Revelations that KSM was questioned about possible al Qaeda ties to Iraq at roughly the same time that he was undergoing water boarding provides some key insight into the purpose of the CIA interrogations.

“A de-classified Senate Armed Services Committee report quoted army psychologist Maj. Paul Burney as saying that a large part of his time on a Behavioral Science Consultation Team was “... focused on trying to establish a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq.” McClatchy newspapers then published an article citing a former intelligence official acknowledging that the Bush administration had pressured interrogators to use harsh techniques to produce evidence connecting the terrorist organization and Iraq's regime.

“All those efforts at establishing that link never bore fruit. KSM was unaware of any collaborative relationship between al-Qaida and the former Iraqi regime as he cited ideological disagreements as an impediment to closer ties.

“In addition, he was unable to corroborate reports that al-Qaeda associate Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi had traveled to Iraq to obtain medical treatment for injuries sustained in Afghanistan (another Bush team lie).

“All the reports shows that water boarding would be used as a means of establishing a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda also diffuses the Bush team notion that so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques (torture)” were only being used in the so-called “ticking time bomb” scenarios.

“But one fact remains clear: “The Bush administration authorized harsh interrogation (torture) in April and May of 2002, well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion. Their principal priority for gathering critical intelligence was not aimed at preempting another terrorist attack or stopping a “ticking bomb” as they said in every press conference, but was to discover the smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qaeda that they so desperately need to justify the invasion of Iraq. It never happened, but the invasion did – the rest is now history.” [End of story from Mr. Soufan].

Related to this issue and posted at various times at this blog:

As usual, thanks from stopping by – come again and stay tuned to this very important issue.

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