At The New Yorker, Jane Mayer writes:
[Former Bush speechwriter Mark] Thiessen's [Courting Disaster], whose subtitle is "How the C.I.A. Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack," offers a relentless defense of the Bush Administration's interrogation policies, which, according to many critics, sanctioned torture and yielded no appreciable intelligence benefit. In addition, Thiessen attacks the Obama Administration for having banned techniques such as waterboarding. "Americans could die as a result," he writes.• • • • •
Yet Thiessen is better at conveying fear than at relaying the facts. His account of the foiled Heathrow plot, for example, is "completely and utterly wrong," according to Peter Clarke, who was the head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism branch in 2006. "The deduction that what was being planned was an attack against airliners was entirely based upon intelligence gathered in the U.K.," Clarke said, adding that Thiessen's "version of events is simply not recognized by those who were intimately involved in the airlines investigation in 2006." Nor did Scotland Yard need to be told about the perils of terrorists using liquid explosives. The bombers who attacked London's public-transportation system in 2005, Clarke pointed out, "used exactly the same materials."
Thiessen's claim about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed looks equally shaky. The Bush interrogation program hardly discovered the Philippine airlines plot: in 1995, police in Manila stopped it from proceeding and, later, confiscated a computer filled with incriminating details. By 2003, when Mohammed was detained, hundreds of news reports about the plot had been published. If Mohammed provided the C.I.A. with critical new clues-details unknown to the Philippine police, or anyone else-Thiessen doesn't supply the evidence. ...
Thiessen's effort to rewrite the history of the C.I.A.'s interrogation program comes not long after a Presidential race in which both the Republican and the Democratic nominees agreed that state-sponsored cruelty had damaged and dishonored America. The publication of "Courting Disaster" suggests that Obama's avowed determination "to look forward, not back" has laid the recent past open to partisan reinterpretation. By holding no one accountable for past abuse, and by convening no commission on what did and didn't protect the country, President Obama has left the telling of this dark chapter in American history to those who most want to whitewash it.
At Daily Kos on this date in 2006:
Let's see if we can wrap our minds around the guest worker program: The very geniuses who gave us Mission Accomplished and WMDs in Iraq; the same crack emergency team that was baffled and helpless for days when faced with standing water in New Orleans; the same wonks that wanted to turn our ports over to the United Arab Emirates; the people who allegedly burned an undercover CIA agent working in weapons proliferation in the middle of a war on Islamic terrorists just to send her hubbie a love letter, and may have publicly misled us at official press conferences for two years about it. Yeah, those same guys have a plan. They're gonna to roll up their sleeves, get to work for the people, they're gonna fix this hugely complex, highly divisive problem, that no other administration or Congress or the smartest people in our country have ever been able to make a dent in for the last century?