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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Things I Learned Today | TPMCafe

By Matthew Yglesias

According to Bart Gellman's review of Ron Suskind's new book the following things are true:

* Al-Qaedist Abu Zubaydah was captured in March 2002.
* Zubaydah's captors discovered he was mentally ill and charged with minor logistical matters, such as arranging travel for wives and children.
* The President was informed of that judgment by the CIA.
* Two weeks later, the President described Zubaydah as "one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States."
* Later, Bush told George Tenet, "I said he was important. You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" and asked Tenet if "some of these harsh methods really work?"
* The methods -- torture -- were applied.
* Then, according to Gellman, "Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety -- against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty."
* At which point, according to Suskind, "thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target."

Incidentally, when some of us point out that systematic use of torture is unlikely to benefit American national security, this is the kind of thing we have in mind. Indeed, I would make a similar point about all-pervasive surveillance. As Francis Fukuyama observes in the context of WMD intelligence in his book, the big problem in intelligence isn't the need to find more information it's the difficulty of figuring out which information is true. Simply pumping every person who falls into your hands for everything he "knows" doesn't help.

read the source and comments......
Things I Learned Today | TPMCafe


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