The Washington Post gets a retired FBI agent on the record who contradicts much of what former CIA agent John Kiriakou had to say last week about the capture and torture of Abu Zubaydah. Who to believe?Via TPM Muckraker:
Abu Zubaydah was:
A) A high-ranking Al Qaeda operative who largely confounded U.S. interrogators with his literary and tactical genius until they submitted him to waterboarding and other forms of torture. After that, he provided key information that likely preempted future attacks.
B) A low-ranking and mentally ill Al Qaeda operative who provided valuable information under gentle questioning, but whose confessions made under torture were useless. Much of the threat information he provided was "crap."
A is the CIA's version (and the President's). B is the FBI's. And in today's Washington Post, Dan Eggen and Walter Pincus walk through the competing profiles. Zubaydah, remember, was one of the two detainees whose interrogations appeared on the destroyed CIA tapes.
It's clear off the bat that the version of events provided by John Kiriakou, the former CIA agent who launched something like a PR blitz last week, is not quite right. In his telling, Zubaydah held out until waterboarded; after only 35 seconds of that, he gave in and "from that day on, he answered every question."
By contrast, both CIA and FBI agents tell the Post that he provided valuable information before he was waterboarded. And there wasn't just one session: "Instead, [other former and current officials] said, harsh tactics used on him at a secret detention facility in Thailand went on for weeks or, depending on the account, even months."
Meanwhile, the destruction of the CIA torture tapes that sparked this inter-agency battle likely violated a court order concerning evidence of torture:
A federal judge has ordered a hearing on whether the Bush administration violated a court order by destroying CIA interrogation videos of suspected terrorists.
U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy rejected calls from the Justice Department to stay out of the matter. He ordered lawyers to appear before him Friday morning.
In June 2005, Kennedy ordered the administration to safeguard “all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.”