Zelikow, the 9/11 Commission, and Effectiveness

Many hyperlinks at original; firedoglake has been covering this issue consistently


Zelikow, the 9/11 Commission, and Effectiveness
By: emptywheel Saturday April 25, 2009 4:00 am

If you've been paying attention, you know I've been poring through the 9/11 Report to figure out how useful the interrogation reports from the waterboarded detainees were, and when they made them.

That exercise shows that the 9/11 Report found just 10 pieces of intelligence from Abu Zubaydah's interrogation reports informative and credible; it found just 16 pieces of such intelligence in al-Nashiri's interrogation reports. And while the Commission did find KSM's interrogation reports to be incredibly useful, an incomplete index (I'm working on this, but it's on the back burner for the next week) of the references to KSM show that many of his most productive interrogation sessions came long after he was waterboarded. And, as Philip Zelikow made clear in a memo relating to the torture tape destruction, there were abundant other problems with the quality of the interrogation reports coming from CIA, too.

I emailed Zelikow yesterday to see if he would answer some more questions on this. He hasn't responded and I haven't had time to follow-up.

But it looks like I may not have to. Zelikow promises to address some of these issues shortly.

"I will have more to say on the topic of effectiveness later."

Of particular interest, he makes this promise to address the effectiveness of torture in the context of the work the 9/11 Commission did with Ali Soufan, the FBI interrogator who called George Bush a liar yesterday.

"I met and interviewed Soufan in the course of my work at the 9/11 Commission, while he was still doing important work at the FBI. From my commission work, my fellow staffers and I had direct knowledge about several of the specific assertions Soufan makes in this piece: about Abu Zubaydah, Ramzi Binalshibh, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. My fellow staffers and I considered Soufan to be credible. Indeed, Soufan is fluent in Arabic, and he seemed to us to be one of the more impressive intelligence agents -- from any agency -- that we encountered in our work."

If the 9/11 Commission spoke with Soufan about AZ's treatment (Zelikow does not say they did, though he does say they asked why Soufan's KSM-expert colleague wasn't involved in those interrogations), it might explain why only 10 pieces of intelligence from AZ show up in the 9/11 Report.

In this post, Zelikow also confirms something I suggested this afternoon. Dick Cheney's up to his old ways, trying to selectively declassify manufactured information to prove his point.

"Some of the very claims that Soufan describes were also used, while I was in government, in CIA memos defending the program that were submitted to the White House. Therefore, the declassification of those memos, as Vice President Cheney and others have called for, would only raise questions that would have to be answered with still more disclosures. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence appears to be trying to sort this out."

It took eight years. But I guess just about everybody is hip to--and sick of--Cheney's ways.

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Zelikow may be telling the truth, but we know he is a liar.

It is a bit of a sticky wicket to use Zelikow's statements, even though they may seem to be useful. He may indeed be telling the truth on this, but on a much more important issue, we know he directed the coverup of what really happened on 911. As executive director of the 911 Commission, he played a pivotal role in perpetuating the official myth and covering up the truth. He is known to be dishonest.

What if

Zelikow is one of those who assisted developing the legal framework for torture? He could be vulnerable to prosecution. I think what we are seeing is a piece of proactive damage control. Thoughts anyone?

i submitted a FOIA request to State today

thru their website. Unfortunately, my message got cut off- i didn't see a character limit.

"Any and all memos, letters, emails, faxes or other documents created, signed or reviewed by Philip Zelikow during the Bush Administration, regarding detainees, enemy combatants and/or interrogation.

I am particularly interested in obtaining a copy of the memo Zelikow referred to in his post"

Anyway, I'm sure they're well aware of it, Zelikow's been all over the news for his comments. Wouldn't hurt for others to submit differently worded requests- you don't have to be a US citizen.

The OLC "torture memos": thoughts from a dissenter – Philip Zelikow

The comments at dailykos.com on the Maddow interview post were almost entirely clueless about Zelikow's past, his connections to neocon policy and the Bush Administration and the 9/11 Commission- many were excited that a Bush insider was supposedly speaking out. Of course, there's no way of knowing how many of those comments were from fakes.

I wonder if this is actually part of setting up Zelikow to lead what may be perceived as an inevitable investigation- and some establishment pundits and public servants have the audacity to call for a 9/11 commission-style investigation- As a commenter here at blogger suggested, this might now be code for a safe, whitewash inquiry.

Kristof (below) even refers to their "best-selling report" as if that means anything.

Putting Torture Behind Us – Nicholas D. Kristof, NY Times, January 28, 2009

"The first step is to appoint a high-level commission — perhaps a McCain-Scowcroft Commission? — to investigate torture, secret detention and wiretapping during the Bush years, as well as to look ahead and offer recommendations for balancing national security and individual rights in the future.

This wouldn’t be a bipartisan commission, with Democrats and Republicans offsetting each other in seething distrust. Rather, it would be nonpartisan, dominated by military and security experts.

It could be co-chaired by Brent Scowcroft and John McCain, with its conclusions written by Philip Zelikow, a former aide to Condoleezza Rice who wrote the best-selling report of the 9/11 commission."