"The best source of information on terrorist attacks is the terrorists themselves " - Bush justifies torture
President Bush gives a weekly radio broadcast. This week he took the opportunity to explain why he was vetoing the Intelligence Funding Bill (HR 2082) which has written into it restrictions on CIA interrogators to use only methods and techniques auhtorized in the 2006 US Army Field Manual. Senate approved the Bill on February 13th but not witha 2/3 rds majority which could prevent a Presidential veto. The 2006 manual specifies that the Geneva Conventions apply to all detainees and eliminates separate standards for the questioning of prisoners of war and enemy combatants.
The President gave as evidence the success of interrogation the plot by Al Quaeda to bomb the Library Tower in Los Angeles...and thereby hangs a flimsy tale.
The first the world knew about this alleged and dastardly plot, and the way it was foiled was when The President was in Los Angeles on February 9th 2006 talking to the National Guard Association of the United States.
Under pressure and facing down Congressional attacks on domestic wiretapping and the detention of terrorist suspects, he needed to demonstrate how effective its methods of battling threats from jihadists had been.
He didn't start well ,as he explained how 4 Al Quaeda suspects would set off shoe bombs, blowing off a cockpit door of a hi-jacked plane and fly it into the Liberty Tower in Los Angeles...well he meant the Library Tower and had everyone puzzled for a bit even though it is tallest building on the West Coast. ...but not the schedulers at Fox who were showing shots from the Independence Day ( A 20th C Fox Film) movie of aliens taking over the tower minutes later.
In a sense this wasn't even news as in October Bush had revealed that the US and it's allies had thwarted 10 serious al-Qaida attacks since Sept. 11. A White House list released at the time referred to a plot to fly a hijacked plane into an unspecified West Coast city in 2002. Citing unidentified sources, news organizations reported that the target was the Library Tower and that the plot's author was Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the architect of the Sept. 11 attacks who was captured in 2003.
Anyway in this later manifestation of the alleged plot Mohammed deputized Hambali, head of the affiliated Southeast Asian group, Jemaah Islamiya, to set up a West Coast attack, and they put together a four-man cell. Asians were chosen, Bush said, on the theory that they would draw less suspicion. (Also perhaps on the basis that having blown their feet off, and possibly the front of the plane they would then guide it precisely into the tower)
If this was news to the US nation it was also news to Los Angeles Mayor , Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa who said he knew nothing about the plot ... nobody had told him and he learnt about it , "like everyone else" by watching the TV News.
At the White House a sceptical Press pack hounded fragrant, lissome and beautiful Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend.
Who were the 4 cell members the President mentioned ? Fran Townsend revealed that 2 were South Asian, 2 were Southeast Asian, no she wouldn't give names or say where they were .
The slim nubile young lady did tell the eager press that four plotters met with Bin Laden in Afghanistan where they pledged an oath of allegiance to the Sheikh before returning to Southeast Asia. She was further pressed - when did this meeting take place ?. Ms. Townsend said it was in October 2001 - a good time to meet Bin Laden one imagines, just after the US invasion.
So far there is no public evidence that the plot was operational at any time and there is no public evidence that the plot was thwarted because of NSA wiretaps that the administration seeks to justify.
It's highly likely if any of the alleged plotters were in fact detained and interrogated ... that they were given a hard time. As we don't know who they are, or where they are, we will never know ... but then they may never have existed... like the plot. (Speech Mp3 here)
Anyway if the CIA are torturing people, they can carry on doing it...with the President's blessing.