Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Classic Case of Torture Not Working

From Think Progress we get a sneak peak at Ron Suskind's new book, "“The One Percent Doctrine." He tells the story of Abu Zubaydah. A crazy man, literally, who was tortured for information when he had none. Of course, he told them whatever they wanted (he had quite the imagination) and the American government ran around chasing bad leads.

From the Washington Post'’s review of the book:

Bush "“was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth,"” Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, "“Do some of these harsh methods really work?"

Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep.

Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety - —against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, "“thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each... target."” And so, Suskind writes, "“the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered."”

Update: From TPM we learn more.
Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries "in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" -- a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said." Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."
After finding out from the CIA that Abu Zubaydah was a crazy man who was nothing more than a glorified chaeffeur for al-Qaeda wives, the President makes a major speech highling Abu Zubaydah as a high level agent for al-Qaeda.
"I said he was important," Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" "No sir, Mr. President," Tenet replied.
So we tortured him.

UPDATE II: Matt Yglesias provides a timeline.

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