Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Inside information?

Now we hear from a retired CIA employee that abu Zubaida was tortured at the order of the highest officials. But, although he participated in the early interrogation, he apparently has no firsthand information about the torture and its outcome--so his claims that it yielded valuable information must be taken with a grain or two of salt (he may trust those who told him this, but we don't necessarily have to).

After contrasting Suskind's account with Kiriakou's, Steve Benen says, "At this point, I have no idea who’s right about this. Either Zubaydah was an unstable schizophrenic who had no useful intelligence at all, or Zubaydah was a valuable al Qaeda asset who offered key information that saved lives."

Could be both. It is possible that even a mentally ill man may know one or two facts that could be of use--in among the mountains of fantasy. He could also have been presented with questions like "Do you know XXX?", with a positive response taken as confirmation of what the questioner already "knew".

We do know that the years after 9/11 produced a stream of valueless alerts, based on "credible intelligence".

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