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Now viewed as obstructionists at best and bald-faced liars on healthcare reform at worst, the Republican leadership seems to have decided it cannot take the additional hit of Bush regime horrors coming out at this moment, and have taken the highly unusual step of writing to Attorney General Eric Holder warning him to call off his dogs.  The nine Republican senators, Kit Bond (Mo.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Richard Burr (N.C.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.) Jeff Sessions (Ala.), John Cornyn (Texas) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa), are worried that however the scope of the prosecution is limited, all roads lead to Cheney.  According to Roll Call:

many have speculated that top officials in the George W. Bush administration, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, might ultimately end up as the targets of any special Justice Department investigation.

The 9 senators use the same argument Cheney has been peddling furiously as the most visible ex-VP in history, that harsh tactics used on alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed:

"produced information that was absolutely vital to apprehending other al Qaeda terrorists and preventing additional attack on the United States, including the West Coast plot seeking to destroy the Library Tower in Los Angeles."

But now they've got a problem, because the administration made the exact same claim about another detainee, Abu Zabaydah, and the FBI agent who actually interrogated Zabaydah recently broke his 7 year silence in an op-ed to the New York Times to say that was a lie:

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 that May.

Lie about one thing, lie about another.  The administration's credibility on the "actionable intelligence" claim is eroding fast.

Special Agent Ali Soufan goes further:

"Under traditional interrogation methods, [Abu Zabaydah] provided us with important actionable intelligence...This experience fit what I had found throughout my counterterrorism career: traditional interrogation techniques are successful in identifying operatives, uncovering plots and saving lives."

I guess it's time to sit these 9 senators across a table from FBI Director Robert Mueller, appointed by George W. Bush himself, who said once and then recently re-affirmed that "to [his] knowledge" torture didn't prevent a single attack, and former CIA Director William Colby, who said torture is "ineffective.".  While we're at it bring on Milton Bearden, a 30 year intelligence man, who said that claims that the Bush administration’s so-called enhanced interrogation techniques saved American lives are likely false:

"They dredge up the slapstick plot of the Liberty Seven or the strange Lyman Faris plot which included a blowtorch," Bearden said. "But when asked for something more substantive, the [Bush administration] retreated behind the screen of protecting sources and methods. We are told to trust them."

Bearden makes the excellent point that such touching concern for CIA sources didn't show itself with Valerie Plame, whose previous job at Brewster-Jennings was supposed to be deep cover right up to the moment either Scooter Libby or Dick Armitage splashed her name and employment all over the front page of the New York Times.  On Cheney's orders, it would take a Herculean suspension of disbelief not to conclude.

We now have a fairly good alternative explanation of what motivated the administration's penchant for torture, and not mere waterboarding, either.  It was the crayon that "connected the dots" for the official myth for public consumption.

Binyam Muhamed was 16 when he hung up by straps, beaten and had his genitals mutilated with a scalpel to make him confess to a 'dirty bomb' plot, very similar to that previously alleged of Jose Padilla.  So dangerous was he that he was released in 2009 and sent back to the UK.

Muhamed, who denies any terrorist connections says:

One time I asked a guard: "What's the point of this? I've got nothing I can say to them. I've told them everything I possibly could."

"As far as I know, it's just to degrade you. So when you leave here, you'll have these scars and you'll never forget. So you'll always fear doing anything but what the US wants."

Muhamed found out he was to be a "dot connector":

When I got to Morocco they said some big people in al-Qaida were talking about me. They talked about Jose Padilla and they said I was going to testify against him and big people. They named Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, Abu Zubaidah and Ibn Sheikh al-Libi...It was hard to pin down the exact story because what they wanted changed from Morocco to when later I was in the Dark Prison...to Bagram and again in Guantánamo Bay.

They told me that I must plead guilty. I'd have to say I was an al-Qaida operations man, an ideas man. I kept insisting that I had only been in Afghanistan a short while. "We don't care," was all they'd say.

Muhamed says:

Later, when a US airplane picked me up the following January, a female MP took pictures. She was one of the few Americans who ever showed me any sympathy. When she saw the injuries I had she gasped. They treated me and took more photos when I was in Kabul. Someone told me this was "to show Washington it's healing".

I guess if I were a Republican obstructionist I'd need this stuff on my Fearless Leader for the past eight years coming out like I need a hole in the head.  We now know the waterboarding was the light stuff.  We're talking about "peroneal strikes" ("pulpifies" the kneecaps,) and:

-- Slamming A Prisoner’s Head Into Concrete Walls. A towel is wrapped around a prisoner’s neck and is then used to propel the prisoner head first into a concrete wall. This torture was so fraught with risk of serious injury to or death of a prisoner that the CIA kept a doctor on hand at all times to guard against death or crippling injury.

and:

-- "Palestinian hangings," where they were hung by the arms with their feet on a drum through which electric shocks were applied to their feet; the shocks would cause the feet to "dance."

And let's not forget clear evidence of the detention, torture, and rape of children, with Americans present.

Once more, laddies, into the breach.  Call Holder.  Demand a Special Prosecutor.


Call the Office of the Attorney General, "Appoint a Special Prosecutor" at (202) 353-1555 and 202-514-2001
Then email the Justice Department.  Holder's fax:  202-307-6777

Originally posted to Ralph Lopez on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:45 AM PDT.

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