CCR Says Suspected Use of Torture Undermines Credibility of 9/11 Report

February 1, 2008
10:17 AM

CONTACT: Center for Constitutional Rights
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CCR Says Suspected Use of Torture Undermines Credibility of 9/11 Report

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - January 31 - The Center for Constitutional Rights is outraged by new information that reveals that much of the information contained in the 9/11 Commissions Final Report regarding the planning and execution of the terror attacks on New York and Washington was supported by information gained from torture, including water boarding.

The analysis from NBC News shows that more than one quarter of all footnotes in the 9/11 Commission’s Report refers to controversial interrogation techniques, including information in the Report’s most critical chapters, those on planning and executing the attacks. Remarkably, Commission staffers and Executive Director Philip Zelikow admitted that though they were skeptical of the intelligence reports, they did not make any inquiries regarding cross-examination techniques.

CCR President Michael Ratner expressed shock at the revelations stating, “If the Commission suspected there was torture, they should have realized that as a matter of law, evidence derived from torture is not reliable, in part because of the possibility of false confession…at the very least, they should have added caveats to all those references.”

“The Commission’s heavy reliance on tainted sources reinforces the notion that we as a nation have not yet come to terms with the reality that the U.S. engaged in torture,” he added. “Until we do so, we undermine our credibility in the eyes of the world as a nation of hypocrites.”

CCR is currently seeking to preserve evidence of the torture of their client Majid Khan, a former CIA ghost detainee now held at Guantanamo. While held at a CIA black site, Majid was subject to hours of torture, which only stopped when he agreed to sign a statement that he wasn’t allowed to read.

“The effect of our government’s reliance on secrecy and torture not only shames the U.S. in the eyes of the world, but sacrifices our freedom and security here at home,” said Vincent Warren, the Executive Director of CCR.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

This is fantastic news

Hopefully, the other civil liberties organisations will come on board.

Shocked, shocked, I say!

Looks like even CCR refuses to forthrightly acknowledge what this really means---there is no evidence to support the justification for the "war on terror" and gutting the Constitution.

I'll have to go back through their work and see if this is a fair criticism. If I find they ever questioned the adequacy of the official story of 9/11 in a serious way, then maybe it's not fair.

I was pleased and surprised

I was pleased and surprised that someone finally acknowledged, albeit implicitly, that a goal of torture is to obtain observably FALSE confessions -- which is why the tapes were denied and destroyed. The statement does bring the legitimacy of the entire report into question.

It's another crack.

I know, it's just such an obvious point

Sorry to be so negative. I do see the positive.

Here's someone that made the point without needing the 9/11 Commission to lead the way..

But he doesn't take that extra step either -- no reliable basis for the 9/11 official story.

Weak, very weak

Mr. Ratner says:

"at the very least, they should have added caveats to all those references.”

The fact is, they did add a caveat, as stated by Zelikow in an article that appeared the day before and quoted Michael Ratner.

Ultimately, we chose to publicly release our understanding of what took place, based on everything we had access to," said Zelikow, adding that the Commission did explain its feelings in a largely ignored explanatory box in the report on the value of the interrogations.

According to the note: "Our access to them (the operatives) has been limited to the review of intelligence reports based on communications received from the locations where the actual interrogations take place. We submitted questions for use in the interrogations, but had no control over whether, when, or how questions of particular interest would be asked."

Here is the full caveat:

Detainee Interrogation Reports

Chapters 5 and 7 rely heavily on information obtained from captured al Qaeda members. A number of these "detainees" have firsthand knowledge of the 9/11 plot.

Assessing the truth of statements by these witnesses-sworn enemies of the United States-is challenging. Our access to them has been limited to the review of intelligence reports based on communications received from the locations where the actual interrogations take place. We submitted questions for use in the interrogations, but had no control over whether, when, or how questions of particular interest would be asked. Nor were we allowed to talk to the interrogators so that we could better judge the credibility of the detainees and clarify ambiguities in the reporting. We were told that our requests might disrupt the sensitive interrogation process.

We have nonetheless decided to include information from captured 9/11 conspirators and al Qaeda members in our report. We have evaluated their statements carefully and have attempted to corroborate them with documents and statements of others. In this report, we indicate where such statements provide the foundation for our narrative. We have been authorized to identify by name only ten detainees whose custody has been confirmed officially by the U.S. government.2

2.Those detainees are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, Riduan Isamuddin (also known as Ham-bali), Abd al Rahim al Nashiri,Tawfiq bin Attash (also known as Khallad), Ramzi Binalshibh, Mohamed al Kah-tani,Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al Ani,Ali Abd al Rahman al Faqasi al Ghamdi (also known as Abu Bakr al Azdi), and Hassan Ghul.

So the obvious response to this press release is: "We did issue a caveat. Has Mr. Ratner read our report?"

So CCR could have issued this press release in 2004, and said that the caveat is not enough and only shows that the 9/11 Commission report is not sufficient, and that we cannot base foreign and domestic policy on such flimsy evidence. People have been imprisoned based on this report, and many, many more have died, been maimed, or had their livelihoods destroyed and/or human rights violated because of it.

9/11 is in the background of all the issues that CCR identifies at their website:

Illegal Detentions and Guantanamo
Surveillance and Attacks on Dissent
Criminal Justice and Mass Incarceration
Corporate Human Rights Abuse
Government Abuse of Power
Racial, Gender and Economic Justice
International Law and Accountability

The only reference to the 9/11 commission I could find at their website cited it as authority:

"Thousands of others have suffered at the hands of the Special Registration program, a program that has been highly criticized by the public and members of the congress (the 9/11 commission in particular) for being ineffective and based on racial, ethnic, and religious profiling."

I would be happy to be proven wrong, but it would appear that for over 6 years, and perhaps even now, the Center for Constitutional Rights has accepted the completely unproven official story of 9/11 and its branding of Muslims as the villains, while decrying the inevitable effects of that branding.

As a radical group, in the true and best sense of radical, getting to the root of a problem, I expect more from CCR than I do from the ACLU.

For that reason, I say weak, very weak.

To clarify, I am not condoning human rights abuses by saying they are the inevitable result of branding Muslims as villains, nor am I disregarding CCR's excellent work. Of course what they fight is not justified by the official story of 9/11, but if we are going to balance liberty and security, should we not have a realistic view of that security? Assessing the evidentiary foundation of the 9/11 official story, and the legal implications of that story, are legal issues that CCR is well-suited to do but has not done. Japanese legislator Fujita said it as well as anyone: 9/11 was a crime and is also the premise for the "war on terror," and as such, a proper investigation is essential.

Message to CCR

Why has it taken you so long to question the 9/11 Commission Report

I am not at all impressed with your press release about the 9/11 Commission, for reasons stated in comments here:

I am posting this message as a comment at the blog. Please sign up and respond. Thank you.

Dwight Van Winkle

Tapes+ torture = distraction

from the correct questions