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In Egypt, as Habib recounts in his memoir, My Story: The Tale of a Terrorist Who Wasn’t, he was repeatedly subjected to electric shocks, immersed in water up to his nostrils and beaten. His fingers were broken and he was hung from metal hooks. At one point, his interrogator slapped him so hard that his blindfold was dislodged, revealing the identity of his tormentor: Suleiman.

That's from a column by Lisa Hajjar at AlJazeera English, in which she examines the man presiding over the transition in Egypt. As director of Egyptian Intelligence, Omar Sulieman oversaw the business end of the U.S. extraordinary program. In this capacity, he used torture to force a false confession that helped Bush's push for war with Iraq. (This is a case different from the one cited above.)

Under torture there, al-Libi "confessed" knowledge about an al-Qaeda–Saddam connection, claiming that two al-Qaeda operatives had received training in Iraq for use in chemical and biological weapons. In early 2003, this was exactly the kind of information that the Bush administration was seeking to justify attacking Iraq and to persuade reluctant allies to go along. Indeed, al-Libi’s "confession" was one the central pieces of "evidence" presented at the United Nations by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell to make the case for war.

As it turns out, that confession was a lie tortured out of him by Egyptians.

So to review: the man heading the transition in Egypt helped Bush lie the U.S into a war that has killed tens of thousands of people, warped the lives of countless others. But it's precisely this kind connection that adds to his appeal in the eyes of the United States and Israel. It was a savvy appointment by Mubarak.

Suleiman has long been favoured by the US government for his ardent anti-Islamism, his willingness to talk and act tough on Iran - and he has long been the CIA’s main man in Cairo.

Mubarak knew that Suleiman would command an instant lobby of supporters at Langley and among 'Iran nexters' in Washington - not to mention among other authoritarian mukhabarat-dependent regimes in the region. Suleiman is a favourite of Israel too; he held the Israel dossier and directed Egypt’s efforts to crush Hamas by demolishing the tunnels that have functioned as a smuggling conduit for both weapons and foodstuffs into Gaza.

Suleiman has indeed received a friendly reception in Washington. The Obama administration has endorsed a euphemistically named "go-it-slow" approach by which Mubarak will remain in power as he edges toward a soft landing and Suleiman negotiates with the protestors. Suleiman is promising reform, but by all accounts, whatever he proposes won't come close to meeting the demands (and needs) of the protestors.  

Vice President Omar Suleiman of Egypt says he does not think it is time to lift the 30-year-old emergency law that has been used to suppress and imprison opposition leaders. He does not think President Hosni Mubarak needs to resign before his term ends in September. And he does not think his country is yet ready for democracy.

Immediate departure of Mubarak is a central demand of the protestors, as is the lifting of the emergency law, and democracy is their central medium-term goal, so it's no surprise that they're rejecting the "go-it-slow" approach and blasting the United States for backing it. The New York Times puts it delicately.

The result has been to feed a perception, on the streets of Cairo and elsewhere, that the United States, for now at least, is putting stability ahead of democratic ideals, and leaving hopes of nurturing peaceful, gradual change in large part in the hands of Egyptian officials — starting with Mr. Suleiman — who have every reason to slow the process.

When U.S. pols prattle about wanting to win the hearts and minds of Muslims, don't believe them.

Pro-democracy defenders (as opposed to the dictatorship-accepting defenders) of the "go-it-slow" approach argue that it's the least bad option, that the elections in the fall still offer the chance of real reform. But as D-Day says, If you believe those elections will be free and fair, you’re quite the optimist.

By far the mostly likely scenario is that Sulieman offers marginal reforms aimed at diffusing the protests, and that the presidential election is as rigged as usual. Suleiman will be the new president of Egypt, and as Mubarak sips wine at his seaside home, a dictatorship will carry on largely as before.

There no reason to believe that the U.S. will be discouraged by that outcome.  A longtime American ally and associate -- the person who did nothing less than torture for the U.S. -- will be head of Egypt, ensuring "stability." In fact, thanks to WikiLeaks, we know that from at least 2007 there's been discussion among U.S officials about the prospect of Suleiman picking up where Mubarak left off.

"Egyptian intelligence chief and Mubarak consigliere, in past years Soliman was often cited as likely to be named to the long-vacant vice-presidential post. In the past two years, Soliman has stepped out of the shadows, and allowed himself to be photographed, and his meetings with foreign leaders reported. Many of our contacts believe that Soliman, because of his military background, would at least have to figure in any succession scenario."

But remember: this is the course designed by leaders behind closed doors. The people may still have their say. All bets are off if the protest movement continues to gain strength.

Originally posted to david mizner on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 03:01 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  David, I wonder (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lysias, crankyinNYC, david mizner

      what would Democrats be saying if GWB or any Republican were following the current admins. policy of not supporting the pro-democracy movement in Egypt.

      Soon, I predict,  more anti-American rhetoric will arise because of this sad Clinton Admin.

      "You can almost judge how screwed up somebody is by the kind of toilet paper they use." Don van Vliet, Captain Beefheart

      by Muggsy on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 07:07:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  So, uh (20+ / 0-)

    the guy now running the show in Egypt helped Bush get "proof" of the Saddam-AQ connection. Some seriously dark comedy going on here.

  •  Great diary David...unfortunately we too often (12+ / 0-)

    let the 'status quo' continue behind closed doors. Nothing has changed for decades here on international policy.

    I hope the people of Egypt win this round...Protest Mothership #17....

    We are witnesses...and hopefully helping by calling our government to oppose the torturer in chief.

    The only thing you get from sitting on the fence is splinters in your ass. My Granddaddy!

    by SallyCat on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 03:05:19 PM PST

  •  The "Extraordinary Rendition (s) Program"? (11+ / 0-)

    That is the program you are talking about? (torture upon request)

  •  The people may be free to vote but the (5+ / 0-)

    election is not going to be fair by any means.  It's all about the choices.

    S.A.W. 2011 STOP ALL WARS "The Global War on Terror is a fabrication to justify imperialism."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 03:24:46 PM PST

    •  What does the constitution say about this? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If I remember what I heard on NPR the document is set so the president or parliament (stocked full of Mubarak supporters) can block anyone they don't like.

      It seems to me they need to scrap the constitution and the parliament in addition to Mubarak to move forward.

      And that is a hell of a change to deal with quickly.

      ~~~~ Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

      by kimoconnor on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 04:42:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Do the protesters represent the masses... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    who, from what I know, care more about economic issues than democracy.

    How easy is it to manipulate the poor, largely uneducated masses, who over time have been fed propaganda that does not promote democratic values or tolerance?

    What is worse, a secular dictatorship or a religious one?

    I don't know where this all goes, but to see it through our Western eyes, as if something akin to our wishes will emerge, is a mistake I think.

    I do not condone what has been done by our ally, or ourselves, but I suspect that it would not be much different if Egypt was not in the American sphere.

    I hope it works out for the people, and their aspirations for a better life, but it seems in this realm that the worst elements usually rise to the top, and I am not so optimistic that improvement will come in any event or under any scenario.

    •  I Don't Get the Impression It's Poor Masses in (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Spit, PeterHug, conchita, Terra Mystica

      the street. This thing arose quickly via social media after the trigger of Tunisia. That doesn't suggest poverty or lack of education. In fact the surge today followed the freeing of the Google exec.

      There seems to be a great deal of diversity in the square too, different religions; they've been reported to have smoking and nonsmoking regions of the square!

      The political dissident & resistance movements are also pretty inclusive. And they're not identical with the street protest, they've been active for years.

      That all doesn't mean they can't be co-opted or crushed by a tremendously superior power structure, but they don't seem to be Frankenstein's superstitious villagers.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 04:07:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cairo (6+ / 0-)

        is relatively poor, but really not uneducated. Even the educated can't find work, and food prices have skyrocketed.

        These are not poor and uneducated people being led stupidly any particular way, whatever the merits of that argument in the first place (and I find them lacking, frankly).

        Any movement can be co-opted, but so far the utter lack of clearly delineated leadership to these protests has denied power to any one group to co-opt the message to its own aims. And IMO that's been the source of the strength of the protests. They're gaining ground, instead of losing it, and they're not giving any bases on which those who want to deny support on some fine print about some specific organization can easily do so.

        Just adding my copper coinage, not disagreeing with you in the least.

        •  True, Spit (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Spit, ActivistGuy

          Education at all levels is free for the Egyptian student. And, the problems they're having with food prices are coming our way. We should take care not to denigrate the Egyptian people simply because they are poor and in a bad political situation.

          SS didn't cause our financial problems. Now let's move on. -- RustyBrown

          by RJDixon74135 on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 06:58:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Where did you hear that the masses don't care (8+ / 0-)

      about democracy? Did you actually hear that, or are you saying that because you think it tends to be true? If you did hear it, are you sure the person you heard it from actually knew what they're talking about?

      I've heard several people suggest that the protests are "bread riots" or that the poor are largely uninvolved, offering very little evidence or none at all.

      I submit that it's possible the marchers are more middle-class than poor, but that does not mean poor Egyptians don't care about democracy, or even that poor neighbors and relatives of protesters aren't sypmathetic to or even actively supporting the protesters?

      proud to be a pro-democracy kossack

      by bicycle Hussein paladin on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 04:45:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I did not say they did not care... (0+ / 0-)

        so let's quit the Daily Kos putting words in another's mouth please.

        I said they, especially the really poor, which constitutes millions and millions, care more about economic and social matters.  Much like poor people almost anywhere.

        •  You said "from what I know..." so I wondered (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PeterHug, ActivistGuy

          where you knew whatever you knew from. Fair question.

          Anyway, since you seem to be uncertain about whether the "poor" "masses" in Egypt actually want democratic reforms, or simply want to be fed somehow and don't bother thinking about where it comes from, my answer is that I have seen no evidence for the latter view. Furthermore, since the very poor and working/lower-middle classes in Egypt have a lot of contact with each other and with slightly wealthier people, at least for the 80%+ of Egyptians who live relatively close to a large city, I wouldn't expect there to be a big difference in their political outlook from the people in the protests.

          proud to be a pro-democracy kossack

          by bicycle Hussein paladin on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 07:41:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  And you said... (0+ / 0-)

            Where did you hear that the masses don't care about democracy?

            You misrepresented what I said in your first utterance.

            So where do you come off so certain as to what they want?  Or are you, in fact, just surmising like me?

            There are 80 million people in the country and less than 1/2 live in urban areas.  How many are in the streets and what is their demographic?

            So many people here speak with such authority.  Too many, so far as I am concerned.  Your anecdotal information is no less speculative than my own, which is based on discussions with people who know the area and issues of development.  

    •  Oh no this is a democratic revolution (7+ / 0-)

      this is the real thing.

      It is what we have been waiting for. demands by the millions for democracy in the Arab world.

      I'm so glad to be living in this era of democratic liberation.

      and yes, I am talking about a demand for western style democracy (oh I hate that term but it is true).

      This administration has the key to the democratic revolution's success. and if indeed it is successful the whole arab world will turn democratic.

      Previously I posted under the user name palestinian professor, which is now deprecated. I now post under my late grandfather's name simone daud.

      by simone daud on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 04:56:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And I question whether or not... (0+ / 0-)

        you, an intellectual elite, speaks for all the people who live on $2 or less. How much do you make?  

        It's a lot like elites everywhere.  They think that their views are everyone's.  It's like that in wealthy states, too.

        •  don't you worry about our people (2+ / 0-)

          just help out with the democratic revolution and ask your government not to hinder it because if they do, the people of Egypt and the whole middle east will not be as forgiving as the "intellectual elite" and the revolution will turn to the anti-american anti-colonialism revolutions of yesteryears

          Previously I posted under the user name palestinian professor, which is now deprecated. I now post under my late grandfather's name simone daud.

          by simone daud on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 06:26:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Do not tell me what to do... (0+ / 0-)

            as if you are the legitimate representative of all Egyptians.  Or make implied threats for that matter.  It may turn out the way you have said even if unhindered, and despite your best intentions.  As if you know what the outcome will be.  How very presumptuous.

  •  So, essentially the torturer in chief is (13+ / 0-)

    the person whose legitimacy as a negotiator is being touted by Washington. And once again, people want an elimination of "our" dictators and the creation of a  democratic electoral process and our government supports the interests of the elites and "supposed" security concerns over democracy and human rights.

    Our government could have responded positively to the calls for democratisation in Egypt; we could have thrown our weight (not insubstantial) behind a democratic leader and strongly encouraged Mubarak and his regime to let go of Egypt ... the obvious and easy solutions of having the army support a popular figure with democratic elections in the near future are abandoned. Instead, all our rhetoric of human rights and democracy are quickly abandoned and we fall into a maintenance of the status quo rather than re-examine our strategy in the Middle East.

    Diary tipped and rec'd and shared.

    No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable (Adam Smith, 1776, I, p. 96).

    by NY brit expat on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 03:39:18 PM PST

  •  Just a VERY random thought.... (5+ / 0-)

    I'm remembering that in the PNAC, several wars are to be started, and ultimately, Egypt is the "prize."  

    Continue on.

  •  Great diary. Throw in leveymg's diary about (7+ / 0-)

    Suleiman's Israeli connections and the full picture is emerging about the stall and diffuse tactics being foisted on the Egyptians.

    From leveymg's diary:

    And, here's the most relevant section of the cable:


    1. (S) In terms of atmospherics, Hacham said the Israeli delegation was "shocked" by Mubarak's aged appearance and slurred speech. Hacham was full of praise for Soliman, however, and noted that a "hot line" set up between the MOD and Egyptian General Intelligence Service is now in daily use. Hacham said he sometimes speaks to Soliman's deputy Mohammed Ibrahim several times a day. Hacham noted that the Israelis believe Soliman is likely to serve as at least an interim President if Mubarak dies or is incapacitated. (Note: We defer to Embassy Cairo for analysis of Egyptian succession scenarios, but there is no question that Israel is most comfortable with the prospect of Omar Soliman.)

    Per simone daud's latest diary, the Egyptian people appear to see this as an escalation rather than an exit strategy.  

    It's a sad truth that power is never given, only taken.  Sad, because of the tragic yet unnecessary human costs.

    "Dega dega dega dega. Break up the concrete..." The Pretenders

    by Terra Mystica on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 04:02:25 PM PST

  •  I'm still unclear (4+ / 0-)

    about Suleiman's base of support, apart from some in the US and Israel. Who does the army want? What are they pushing, as the price of staying supposedly neutral? They're pushing something, they're holding out for something, but I can't suss it out.

    That said, it would be a grave mistake for the US to give the tiniest scrap of cover to this regime, including Suleiman. I can be pragmatic to a fault, I don't want to see a failure-to-temporarily-placate lead to massive violence and a crushing of this open dissent.

    But at this point, we've got to stand up. We can't wash our hands of it, they're already bloody and have been for decades. The least we can do with that is stand for fundamental change in our own foreign policy.

    •  Suleiman's support (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PeterHug, lysias, PeteZerria

      Is obviously from the Washington and Tel Aviv. It is also from the EU and the leaders of the other US backed dictatorial regimes in the Middle East.

      Powerful interest groups want to maintain the status quo or something very close to it. "Transition" is very important to the Department of State and their influential clients at CFR plus the Department of Defense and their brothers in the MIC. We're talking about money and power. One begets the other.

      If the Egyptian people are successful in ousting the Mubarak Government this would be a major blow to the foreign policy template of the US empire.

      However, it would be a better thing for the people of the Middle East.

      Probably some will dispute this.


    •  What happens in Egypt will primarily be decided (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      by the Egyptians one way or another, and appropriately so.

      Given that, there are clear limits to what the US or the EU can do to influence events there - but to the extent that we can, we should make it clear to the Egyptian Army and the economic elites, that we are not prepared to work closely with someone with Suleiman's record.

      We have obviously worked closely with him in the past and that will be to our eternal shame and discredit - but that can't be changed, and now is as good a time as any to turn over a new leaf (particularly since we're apparently all about not looking back, and letting the past lie peacefully and so on...).

  •  david, did you read wayne madsen on this? (8+ / 0-)

    add a healthy portion of salt when you read this.  madsen pushes it too far at the end, but there are some factual items here that might turn your head:

    WMR has learned from a well-informed political insider that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have waffled on support for Egypt's pro-democracy revolution in order to safeguard a covert U.S.-Egyptian rendition and torture program that dates back to the Clinton administration. In fact, Clinton's Deputy Attorney General, Eric Holder, now Obama's Attorney General, was the first Department of Justice official to write a legal brief authorizing the rendition of alleged terrorists from third countries by the CIA to Egypt for purposes of interrogation and torture.

    Holder, who served as Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno from 1997 to 2001, In 1995, Talaat Fuad Qassim, a member of al-Gamaa Islamiya, an Islamist group linked to "Al Qaeda's" number two, Egyptian Ayman al Zawahiri, was kidnapped by CIA agents in Croatia and flown to the United States. In 1997, after Holder became Deputy Attorney General, Justice Department prosecutors realized they had no legal right to hold Qassim. Holder, according to our source, went to see President Clinton and told him about the problem with holding Qassim in the United States, stressing that the United States was legally bound to release Qassim. Clinton told Holder to send Qassim to someone else. Holder arranged to have Qassim flown to Egypt where he was put into a small crate, tortured, and eventually executed by Egyptian authorities.

    Holder has long been a coddler of torturous regimes. In 2004, while a partner with Covington and Burling, Holder worked out a plea agreement for his client, Chiquita Brands International, in which the firm agreed to pay a fine of $25 million for making cash payments to the Colombian right-wing death squad paramilitary force, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. The AUC carried out systematic assassinations of trade union activists, peasants, politicians, and leftist guerrillas in Colombia.

    It is certainly wiser to prepare oneself for awakening than to live in denial and try to remain asleep. Sat Nam, Guru Rattana

    by conchita on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 04:20:48 PM PST

  •  The way I see it (6+ / 0-)

    sulaiman has no support outside the rich corrupt elite that stand to lose billions (which includes all the army generals)

    now sulaiman is the facist military leader that is going to save these billionaires billions and their lives frankly.

    what would you do to save a billion dollars? what do billionaires do to save that kind of money that is threatened by revolution?

    facism is the only answer for them and sulaiman is the perfect facist

    The US government is of course geared to protect the interests of billionaires and the super rich, both in the US and elsewhere.  If the lives and wealth of the billionaire elite in Egypt is threatened in a credible way, then  I suspect that this and any other administration would welcome the facist Sulaiman who without a doubt will make sure that these threats disappear.

    Previously I posted under the user name palestinian professor, which is now deprecated. I now post under my late grandfather's name simone daud.

    by simone daud on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 04:52:22 PM PST

    •  From what I've been reading (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jlynne, simone daud

      about the Egyptian "military-industrial complex" (a very different version from what we have in the US), the nation's economy is already more or less completely set up on fascist lines.  Almost impossible for the political line not to follow.  For a revolution to genuinely success in Egypt, it has to go way beyond changes in government, the structure of the entire economy will need to be overhauled or the military will continue to have total veto power over society through its economic control.

      "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

      by ActivistGuy on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 08:26:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Something doesn't fit... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Suleiman has long been favoured by the US government for his ardent anti-Islamism,

    Saddam was not an "Islamist." He was a secular tyrant. Iraq is far more Islamist today than it was under Saddam's regime. I don't think Suliman's role in Iraqi war has anything to do with "anti Islamism." It is pure malice; self ineterest. Which makes me think that although it appears to be that our CIA favors Soliman, they should never trust him, if they are true patriots. People like him can betray anyone. And it is hard to see the Iraqi war as beneficial for USA. But again, maybe we are looking at a situation where a nationless global elite work to protect the wealth of their members, not their countries.

    One thing for sure, they all care for the billions more than they ever cared for human beings.

    May God help the innocents.

    "Corruptio Optima Pessimi" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 06:00:35 PM PST

  •  Suleiman might be a psychopat... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler

    I think he is a psychopat. Then everything fits. This event has revealed a much more distrubing side of the Bush admin decade. Suleiman says Egypt is not ready for democracy. If it was left to him, Egypt would never be ready for democracy. Since when fascist psychos are comfortable with democracy? They can't even understand how democracy works...

    I like to find out about this Suliman's biography... the type of childhood he had. Must be some answers there....

    "Corruptio Optima Pessimi" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 06:07:11 PM PST

  •  It makes a bookend with El-Baradai (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    who, limited as his influence was, was one of the few figures in the international establishment that made a genuine effort to put some brakes on the US rush to invade Iraq.

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

    by ActivistGuy on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 08:23:14 PM PST

  •  one article I read (0+ / 0-)

    also noted that al-Libi's alleged suicide in Libya "coincided" with a visit by Suleiman.  Proves nothing, but my dubious eyebrow went up.

    "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." President Obama in Prague on April 5

    by jlynne on Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 08:28:55 PM PST

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