by Mark H Gaffney, via The International Reporter:
James Mitchell’s best-selling new book, Enhanced Interrogation, offers an invaluable insider’s account of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program. The author is a retired US Air Force officer with a PhD in clinical psychology. From August 2002 through January 2009, Dr. Mitchell helped develop the EI program and also served as an interrogator; that is, until Obama shut the program down by executive order.
Mitchell’s book offers a defense of enhanced interrogation techniques, including water-boarding, as necessary to defend the nation against terrorism, a dubious claim, in my opinion. The author goes to great lengths to fend off charges by Sen. Diane Feinstein and others that he tortured 9/11 detainees for the CIA.
He argues that water-boarding is not torture. His arguments did not sway me, however. Of course, the reader is free to make up his/her own mind. But I came down on the side of torture based on the material in the book and my own research.
Beyond the torture issue, Mitchell’s book has major problems. Although the author obviously wrote it to defend himself, which is understandable given the personal attacks he faced, his book also serves the double purpose of shoring up the official 9/11 narrative. This is undoubtedly why the CIA cleared Mitchell to reveal previously classified details about Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM).
Readers should not be fooled by Mitchell’s criticism of some CIA practices and policies. The CIA obviously felt that reiterating the official 9/11 story was so important that it was worth taking some hits about its EIT program.
Why else would they allow Mitchell to print material that was deemed so sensitive in 2003 that the sitting CIA chief George Tenet refused to allow the 9/11 Commission to interview the 9/11 detainees, nor even to consult with the CIA officers who had interrogated them? And this despite the fact the Commission was armed with a congressional mandate and subpoena authority. Tenet was adamant; no access was granted. The national security state, not Congress, would call the shots.
The 9/11 Commission was forced to rely on third-hand CIA write-ups that raised more questions than they answered. Most of the 9/11 Commission Report was based on these third-hand accounts; which from the standpoint of truth-telling explains why the report is essentially garbage, not worth the paper it was printed on.
Consider also the taped interrogations of Zubaydah and KSM. Mitchell mentions these videos (p. 249, 260) and makes it clear he strongly supported the CIA decision to destroy them. Why destroy them? In the author’s own words: “for the good of the country.” But this is hogwash. Mitchell’s more likely motivation was to shield himself and the other interrogators from possible criminal prosecution by the Justice Department.
As we know, then CIA-chief Michael Hayden served up another reason when he claimed that the tapes were destroyed because they posed “a security risk.” When pressed, Hayden explained that if the tapes had become public they would have put CIA officers and their families at risk of reprisals by Al Qaeda. That might have sounded half-way convincing in 2007 but has become threadbare with the passage of time.
No, there is a more plausible reason why the tapes were destroyed: if they had been released they would have exposed the official 9/11 narrative for the tapestry of lies that it is. Again, this explains the CIA’s willingness to take some criticism from Mitchell.
We learned in 2009, for instance, that nearly everything the CIA told us about Abu Zubaydah was wrong. Worse, it was a lie, because the CIA apparently knew all along that Zubaydah had no connection to Al Qaeda. This is surely why no charges were ever brought against him.
If you are skeptical about this, see Brent Mickum, The truth about Abu Zubaydah, The Guardian, March 30, 2009
Also Google Kevin Ryan, Abu Zubaydah Poses a Real Threat to al-Qaeda, Foreign Policy Journal, October 17, 2012
The CIA had to perpetuate the fabric of lies about Zubaydah because the legend of the man spun by the CIA was crucial to build popular support for the invasion of Iraq, the creation of military tribunals, renditions, domestic spying, the encroaching police state, and the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program itself.
No doubt, this also explains why, 16 years after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the government has yet to bring the master-mind, KSM, to trial. Nor will it — ever. The last thing the CIA wants is to allow KSM an opportunity to tell his side of the story in a courtroom.
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