Saturday, December 08, 2007

What's the big secret...? (Update)

An interesting theory holds that the CIA destroyed the torture tapes not to hide the fact of torture but to mask the information derived. Specifically, the damning data is said to involve Saudi participation in the Al Qaeda plot.

Alas, the writers who are outlining this theory direct us to the work of Gerry Posner, whom I trust about as much as I would trust the demon Baal. Still, we should mull over the possibility.
Instead, when confronted by his "Saudi" interrogators, Zubaydah showed no fear. Instead, according to the two U.S. intelligence sources that provided me the details, he seemed relieved. The man who had been reluctant to even confirm his identity to his U.S. captors, suddenly talked animatedly. He was happy to see them, he said, because he feared the Americans would kill him. He then asked his interrogators to call a senior member of the Saudi royal family. And Zubaydah provided a private home number and a cell phone number from memory. "He will tell you what to do," Zubaydah assured them

He named two other Saudi princes, and also the chief of Pakistan's air force, as his major contacts. Moreover, he stunned his interrogators, by charging that two of the men, the King's nephew, and the Pakistani Air Force chief, knew a major terror operation was planned for America on 9/11.
Odd thought: Perhaps the reason why we are now learning about this business involving destruction of evidence has to do with a long-range plan to reveal the grim fact of Saudi involvement...? The intent (in this scenario) would be to raise a cry of public outrage, which could lead to congressional hearings -- and during those hearings, certain beans might achieve a long-overdue spillage.

Update: Larisa examines this theory...
Honestly I don't believe that the agency was covering up for some its own nor and covering its arse from legal questions surrounding prisoner abuse. But if there is a cover up, it is likely to conceal evidence that might cause "diplomatic problems" with our two friends - Pakistan and Saudia Arabia. The Bush administration has proved over and over, that friends like ISI and the House of Saud are much more important than our own national security. I tend to call this treason, others have often called it "diplomacy."
I too have made this very point numerous times. I would add that the Saudi-ISI link stems from their nuclear partnership. As Joseph Trento has established, the "Pakistani bomb" was actually, to a large degree, a Saudi bomb -- at least in the sense that the Saudis provided the funindg. This axis brings us into the realm of A.Q. Khan -- and to the international networks investigated by Valerie Plame.


Antifascist said...

While Posner's work on the JFK assassination is rife with holes and contradictions -- the "single bullet" and "lone nut" theories, "Why America Slept" does indeed provide valuable insight into the Zubaydah capture and interrogation. According to Posner, the named perps all died under mysterious circumstances, the "usual" plane crashes, heart attacks, etc. The Saudi prince, if I'm not mistaken, died into a single vehicle "accident" in the desert.

Having said that, I find the assertion that the tape destruction was solely to mask Saudi 9/11 involvement somewhat byzantine and fanciful. When in doubt, the simplest explanation is usually the right one: to conceal CIA torture and to stymie Congressional investigations, especially in the wake of Abu Ghraib. Remember there are multiple suits seeking information on the Bush regime's embrace of torture, including the ACLU, CCR, and the Moussaoui defense team -- to name but a few.

Anonymous said...

tom, occam's razor really only applies to the stuff of physical inquiry; stupid cell/molecules/electrons will follow simple rules best.

when it comes to the complicated matter of humans, things get, well, complicated. the sciences of human behavior are able to describe some fascinating patterns and trends that appear to be fairly 'rule'-driven, but the more simplistic the rules and/or theories, the less completely the behaviors are described (trending toward godel).

and then, i'd have to say that international politics veer toward the most complicated behaviors in the human sphere.

so i guess i'd have to say, from my own personal and professional experience with folks, and from watching the international political arena, it's extremely rare that there is a simple explanation for anything that any human or human organization ever does.

that said, whether or not this saudi wrinkle in the whole cia tape flaming is true or not, the more compelling fact is that it's all too believable. that fact makes a devastating statement about how little we trust the cia or our leaders or the leaders of any governments. too many humans with too many hidden - and very complicated - agendas.

Anonymous said...

hm. just ran across this from olbermann last night (via crooksandliars):

evidently larry johnson has suggested that the tapes were destroyed possibly to protect the fact that it was not cia but contracted interrogators doing the dirty work.

just how much protection does blackwater get to get, anyways?

i'd believe that story, too, which is no less complicated than the saudi one.

in fact, they could BOTH be true, if you think about it!!

oh what tangled webs we weave.....

Anonymous said...

Note that James Risen of the New York Times has independently corroborated much of Posner's initial reporting on the Zubaydah confession in his own book, State of War. You can read all about it, particularly in "Part 4", here:

Whether that is a factor in why these tapes were destroyed, Lord only knows. It's getting difficult to figure out which crimes these bozos are trying to cover up at any given time.

Anonymous said...

I understood that the ISI/Khan nuclear program was largely financed by us (funds going year after year for their help in Afghanistan though misdirected to their not-so-secret program). The Saudi's were mere customers and the proliferation began, in Pakistan, because of their dependence on our funding which was potentially unreliable.

AitchD said...

The reports that Congresswoman Pelosi and other members of Congress in 2002 were thoroughly briefed about interrogation techniques used against captured "terrorists", including waterboarding. According to the article, you get the feeling that the briefing also included a screening of L.A. Confidential with murmurs of 'Do whatever it takes' and 'Don't anthrax me, bro'. The best and worst that can be said for Pelosi and her briefed colleagues is that they will keep a secret. Everyone else, they're acting just like babies, like tattletales, like scaredy cats who worry that they'll have to count on Pelosi for a pardon, and then Hillary.

The Saudi intrigue makes sense. Most US oil comes from Saudi Arabia, and we haven't figured out a way to run our cars on cocaine. We give the Saudis the kind of money it takes to purchase USDOD Grade weaponry.

Most of that fuel is used to transport Chinese-made goods (hahaha) to market, and to buy the stuff and bring it home or someplace. The rest is used to go to work and to heat buildings. Maybe the US can get its oil cheap enough and traded in dollars from some other place. Soon the high gas and heating costs will cut deep and everywhere, definitely during the election campaign, which means the prices can be manipulated to affect the election. In the short-term meantime, credit-card banks are lapping up the gas-price windfalls; those banks need every gouge point they can get right now. It's like a bank tax. All those people in banking, in finance, in commerce, their bosses will tell them who to vote for. Say what you will, but a hugely complex problem will be reduced to fictitious, simplistic terms, especially during the season when the US TV switches off analog and switches on high-definition digital. Conventional wisdom's Chief Theory about why the American people turned against the government's war in Southeast Asia is that TV news showed the war every evening (after the film was developed). This time, it was the digital cameras at Abu Ghraib. If TV exposure of war didn't stop war, why would pics of torture stop torture? Warmongers will hide their ways better, like they always do. The public debate is absurd. We have nuclear weapons in numbers that can destroy all life on the planet, other countries have them too, but we argue about 'official' torture to defend our innocence?

Antifascist said...

dr. elsewhere,

No doubt, the CIA was/is concealing Saudi involvement in 9/11. My point is that within the context of internal US politics, the recent Iran NIE, and the attempt by one element of the state (the military/intel establishment) to kneecap the other (the entrenched right-wing political bureaucracy represented by Bush, Cheney, the lapdog Dems' et al) I find it more likely, not to the exclusion of any other agenda, that the torture tapes' destruction are an expression of the fear by mid-level bureaucrats, apparatchiks, etc. of being thrown under the bus after doing the state's dirty work.

It's not like this hasn't happened before. Reference Nixon's desire to elevate Mark Felt to FBI director during Watergate at the precise moment that Felt was Woodward and Bernstein's "Deep Throat."

Antifascist said...

The scary thing doc, is indeed that all of it could be true! Saudi's, CIA officers, private contractors, Bush gang, etc.

I thought Titan and CACI were the primary "intelligence" contractors involved in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, not Blackwater. Wasn't Blackwater's contract with the State Dept. to "protect" their high-end clients in the CPA, Afghanistan? A new defintion of a "protection racket," no?

Check out Jeremy Scahill's new piece on The Nation's website: "Blackwater's Bu$ineSS"

Anonymous said...

My take is that the Saudi and Pakistani funding of 'terrorists' was done at US request, ostensibly dating to the Afghanistan freedom fighting mujahadeen, but in reality, a US policy picking up where the previously British dominance of the Middle East left off-- the Islamic fundamentalist movements, starting with the Muslim Brotherhood, was a creation or continuing creature of the West, designed to better control the various governments in that region.