Green Room

What Waterboarding Really Revealed

posted at 8:08 pm on April 22, 2009 by

Not one of the liberal pundits decrying the use of enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) appears to have read the complete set of memos released by President Obama. I know this because I cannot find a single, plain-text version of the scanned memos anywhere on the web. And, the most critical section — the results obtained from EITs — is nowhere to be found.

Most of the anti-American leftists seem strangely incurious regarding the key question asked even at The Huffington Post: what did the enhanced interrogations reveal?

I herein present the actual results of the EITs as described in the partially redacted 5/30/2005 memo (U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel, MEMORANDUM FOB JOHN A. RIZZO, SENIOR DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, “Re: Application of ‘United States Obligation; Under Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture to Certain Techniques That May Be Used in the Interrogation of High Value al Qaeda Detainees'”, originally classified TOP SECRET/NOFORN).

What follows is my transcription of the critical sections of the scans.

The CIA used the waterboard extensively in the interrogations of KSM and Zubaydah, but it did so only after it became clear that standard interrogation techniques were not working. Interrogators used enhanced techniques in the interrogation of il-Nashiri with notable results as early as the first day. See IG Report at 35-36. Twelve days into the interrogation, the CIA subjected al-Nashiri to one session of the waterboard during which water was applied two times…

Indeed, before the CIA used enhanced techniques in the interrogation of KSM, KSM resisted giving any answers to questions about future attacks, simply noting, “Soon, you will know”

…Zubaydah himself explained with respect to enhanced techniques, “brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have ‘reached the limit of their ability to withhold It’ in the face of psychological and physical hardships.” …indeed, we understand that since the use of enhanced techniques, “KSM and Abu Zubaydah have been pivotal sources because of their ability and willingness to provide their analysis and speculation about the capabilities, methodologies, and mindsets of terrorists…”

…You have informed us that the interrogation of KSM — once enhanced techniques were employed — led to the discovery- of a KSM plot, the “Second Wave,” “to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airline into” a building in Los Angeles, Effectiveness Memo at 3…

…You have informed us that information obtained from KSM also led to the capture of Riduan bin Isomuddin, better known as Hambali, and the discovery of the Guraba Cell, a 17-member Jemaah Islamiyah cell tasked with executing the “Second Wave” See id. at 3-4: CIA Directorate of Intelligence, Al-Qa’ida’s Ties to Other Key Terror Groups: Terrorists Links In a Chain 2 (Aug. 28, 2003). More specifically, we understand that KSM admitted that he had [REDACTED] large sum of money to an al Qaeda associate See Fax from [REDACTED]… DCI Counterterrorism Center, Briefing Notes on the [REDACTED] Reporting at 1 (Apr. 1 5, 2005) (‘Briefing Notes”)…

Khan subsequently identified the associate (Zubair), who was then captured. Zubair, in turn, provided Information that led to the arrest of Hambali Set id. The information acquired from these captures allowed CIA interrogators to pose more specific questions to KSM, which led the CIA to Hambali’s brother, al-Hadi. Using information obtained from multiple sources, al-Hadi was captured, and he subsequently identified the Guraba cell. See id at 1-2 With the aid of this additional information, interrogations of Hambali confirmed much of what was learned from KSM

Interrogations of Zubaydah — again, once enhanced techniques were employed — furnished detailed information regarding al Qaeda’s “organizational structure, key operatives, and modus operandi” and identified KSM as the mastermind of the September 11 attacks. See Brieflng Notes at 4. You have informed us that Zubaydah also “provided significant information on two operatives, [including] Jose Padilla[,] who planned to build and detonate a ‘dirty bomb’ in the Washington DC area.” Effectiveness Memo at 4. Zubaydah and KSM have also supplied important information about al-Zarqawi and his network…

[Ed: important footnote, partially redacted, reads: We discuss only a small fraction of the important intelligence CIA interrogators have obtained from KSM.]

More generally, the CIA has informed us that, since March 2002, the intelligence derived from CIA detainees has resulted in more 6,000 intelligence reports and in 2004 accounted for approximately half of CTC’s reporting on al Qaeda. See Briefing Notes at 1; see also… report at 86 (noting that from September 11, 2001 through April 2003, the CIA “produced over 3,000 intelligence reports from” a few high value detainees). You have informed us that the substantial majority of this intelligence has come from detainees subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques

…In addition, the CIA advises us that program has been virtually indispensable [unreadable] actionable intelligence than other forms of collection [REDACTED].

The terrorists who KSM ratted out include: Majid Khan, Hambali, Rusman “Gun Gun” Gunawan, Yazid Suffat, Jose Padilla, and Lyman Faris.

Hambali, to choose only one of these animals, coordinated the first Bali nightclub bombing on October 12, 2002. It killed 202 and injured 209, including 89 Australians and seven Americans.

Hambali also led the bombings of 30 churches across Indonesia in 2000 during Christmas Eve services — which killed 17 — and helped fund the August 5, 2003, Jakarta Marriott Hotel attack that killed 11 and wounded 150.

And now even columnists at the Huffington Post are asking “What would you not do to stop a nuke“?

To put things in simple terms for any “progressives” reading along, here’s what the EITs revealed after 3,000 American civilians were slaughtered in cold blood by Al Qaeda:

FACT: EITs produced 3,000 of the 6,000 critical counter-terror intelligence reports only after normal techniques had proven fruitless;

FACT: EITs used on Zubaydah revealed KSM’s identity as a mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks;

FACT: KSM ratted out a number of mass-murderers including Hambali;

FACT: Hambali’s brother ratted out a cell bent on “9/11 Wave 2” on the West Coast;

FACT: Zubaydah also revealed Padilla and his plan to detonate a simplistic dirty bomb in Washington, DC;

So, drones, you can either believe the CIA forged 3,000 documents and magically captured mass-murderers without EITs… or you can believe the truth. And here’s a warning:

Any attempts to investigate or prosecute attorneys or officials in the Bush administration will be exposed for what they are: political witch-hunts, motivated by Obama’s endless campaign against George W. Bush that masks his complete, utter inability to govern the United States of America.

And what goes around, comes around.

Related: Obama’s director of national intelligence affirms the value of EITs (Hugh Hewitt) and Rogue’s Gallery (NRO). Cross-posted at: Doug Ross @ Journal.

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Excellent post.

But, thanks to Patrick Leahy, et al., there will be an attempt to hold hearings show trials in a public forum for no other reason than to have another bite of the apple bash Bush.

So politically ingrained/indoctrinated are these members of our National leadership that they would take apart our defense brick by brick for no other reason than to glory in their “victory” last November.

coldwarrior on April 22, 2009 at 8:30 PM

You have informed us that the interrogation of KSM — once enhanced techniques were employed — led to the discovery- of a KSM plot, the “Second Wave,” “to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airline into” a building in Los Angeles, Effectiveness Memo at 3…

this information is false.

Fact Sheet: Keeping America Safe From Attack
President Bush Discusses Intelligence Showing The Importance Of Defeating Al Qaeda In Iraq
In 2002, we broke up a plot by KSM to hijack an airplane and fly it into the tallest building on the West Coast.

khalid sheikh mohammed was captured in rawalpindi, pakistan on March 1, 2003

Scope of Plots Bush Says Were Foiled Is Questioned

Hambali, also known as Riduan Isamuddin, in turn is believed to have chosen several men to launch the attacks, including a pilot, and had set aside some money to pay for them, according to one senior counter-terrorism official.

Those men were soon captured, however, and the plot never progressed past the planning stages, according to several counter-terrorism officials.

“To take that and make it into a disrupted plot is just ludicrous,” said one senior FBI official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with departmental guidelines.

sesquipedalian on April 22, 2009 at 9:43 PM

Thanks for the info. I think it’s a mistake to focus on the particular plots supposedly foiled unless the evidence is airtight that there were disrupted in or near the execution phase. Otherwise, you get responses like sesqui’s above: It’s clear that a relatively large number of people with demonstrated evil intentions toward vulnerable areas were apprehended. If the LA plot or other plot had been made impossible or impractical by other security means, there is no reason to believe that these guys would have gone into early retirement to brush up on their shuffleboard.

CK MacLeod on April 23, 2009 at 12:45 AM

Nice post.

BadgerHawk on April 23, 2009 at 8:39 AM

FOR seven years I have remained silent about the false claims magnifying the effectiveness of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding. I have spoken only in closed government hearings, as these matters were classified. But the release last week of four Justice Department memos on interrogations allows me to shed light on the story, and on some of the lessons to be learned.

It is inaccurate, however, to say that Abu Zubaydah had been uncooperative. Along with another F.B.I. 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.

We discovered, for example, that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Abu Zubaydah also told us about Jose Padilla, the so-called dirty bomber. This experience fit what I had found throughout my counterterrorism career: traditional interrogation techniques are successful in identifying operatives, uncovering plots and saving lives.

sesquipedalian on April 23, 2009 at 10:01 AM

sesquipedalian on April 23, 2009 at 10:01 AM

That’s an interesting take on it. I’d like to get more information from others involved rather than base my position on the opinion of one person.

However, this does nothing to change my stance that, IF torture is necessary and does work, I have absolutely no problem with it being used to get the information.

This feeds more into a debate about whether or not it’s necessary and (to a much lesser extent) whether or not it works, which, of course, are both very important debates to have.

I think it’s a mistake to conflate all three into the same discussion though. I’m not saying that’s what you’ve done as this thread is about what waterboarding revealed. I just bring it up as I think the distinction between those three questions is greatly missing in most debates about torture.

JadeNYU on April 23, 2009 at 12:54 PM

JadeNYU on April 23, 2009 at 12:54 PM

if you think torture is immoral, there’s no point debating its usefulness. i linked this (sorry for the misleading non-quotation quotation) because it puts a dent into arguments that the torture program made sense at all, and accounts like this will go a long way toward determining whether there was any official wrongdoing in developing and carrying out this interrogation program.

sesquipedalian on April 23, 2009 at 2:14 PM

sesquipedalian – we’ve been waterboarding since the Spanish-American War. To believe it doesn’t work is to dispute approximately 3,000 documents and the capture of Hambali, all of which were documented in situ.

But perhaps they were all forged by the evil Karl Rove.

directorblue on April 23, 2009 at 7:56 PM

to dispute approximately 3,000 documents

i just proved that these memos contain unreliable information. the fbi interrogator in the times today wrote that zubaydah gave up ksm and padilla with traditional techniques. also, lot of the information extracted through torture proved to be completely useless. it’s a horror story, you’ll realize by the time the whole truth comes out. it will come out.

sesquipedalian on April 23, 2009 at 9:51 PM

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