Who Is the Mysterious CIA Interviewee?

One of the biggest pieces of news in the last couple of weeks has been the release of the CIA inspector general's report into the usefulness, or rather lack thereof of its torture techniques. It has been practically everywhere, but one thing that has been lost is that there were a whole bunch of supporting documents released from the inspector general’s investigation. One of these caught my eye in particular.

It is a memorandum drafted by an inspector general employee about a 16 July 2003 interview of a female CIA officer who appears to be very involved in the agency’s rendition and torture programme.

The officer said the agency judged the success of the programme by "the quality of the information" detainees provide. The report adds:

If they get unique, valuable information from the detainees, then they have done their job. In ... view, using the quality of the intelligence as the yardstick, the program has been an absolute success. She stated further that there was no other way CTC [the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center] could have gotten the information they have obtained from the detainees.

The officer goes on to talk about information the CIA got from training camp facilitator Abu Zubaida and alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM). She says that the information the agency obtained from them helped catch other detainees and “also provided a wealth of information about al-Qaeda plots,” of which there is a (semi-redacted) list. The report adds, “On the question of whether actual plots had been thwarted, … opined that since the operatives involved in many of the above plots had been arrested, they have, in effect, thwarted the operation.”

It is interesting to note some similarities between the claims made by the officer in the interview and the statements made in the two CIA documents requested by former Vice President Dick Cheney. For example, the interview memo says, “Abu Zubaidah provided information about the modus operandi of al-Qaeda,” whereas the June 2005 document Detainee Reporting Pivotal for the War Against al-Qaeda says, “… Abu Zubaida provided details about al-Qaeda’s organisational structure, key operatives, and modus operandi.”

Both documents also highlight information reportedly revealed by detainees that led to the arrest of other suspects, attributing to KSM information that led to the arrest of Ohio truck driver Iyman Faris, as well as Uzair Paracha.

The similarities are fairly general, but they give pause for thought: was the officer interviewed on 16 July involved in the drafting of the two documents requested by Cheney?

Although there is no way of telling who exactly this CIA officer is, she appears to be in some sort of management role at the CTC. There were relatively few such roles and at this time only one woman is known to have had such a position. She is the redheaded former CIA officer described by Jane Mayer in The Dark Side and mentioned by Dana Priest in her examination of the wrongful rendition of Khalid el-Masri. Both Mayer and Priest finger her as being the one who insisted on taking el-Masri, an innocent German, to Afghanistan, despite the lack of evidence against him (initially they thought he was another guy of the same name who had known some of the 9/11 hijackers).

Mayer also wrote that the officer took an unauthorised jaunt to see KSM being waterboarded, because, according to one of her sources, “She thought it would be cool to be in the room.” In addition, Harper’s Ken Silverstein wrote she was considered for the position of deputy chief of Baghdad Station in 2007 (but didn’t get the job).

I am currently working on adding entries about her to the Detainee Abuse and 9/11 timelines, and you can find her under ‘Redheaded CIA Manager,’ although most of the entries about her will not be published for a couple of days. I would also speculate that she is also the CIA officer referred to as “Michelle” in the Justice Department inspector general’s report and “Michael” in the 9/11 Commission report (don’t ask me why the commission gave her a male alias).

Obviously, none of this proves that the redhead was the interviewee in July 2003. However, it’s enough for me to put her at the top of the shortlist.

All this is doubly interesting in the light of a recent WaPo article offering a staunch defense of the torture tactics, but based on anonymous intelligence community sources. There has been some speculation as to who the anonymous sources are, and Scott Horton floated the possibility that one of them may be former CIA Director George Tenet. That’s certainly possible, but the redhead would also be on my shortlist for this as well, as would this guy.

Originally posted here


Very interesting. Needless to add... whether or not torture works is totally irrelevant. If that was the logic, then genocide might reduce terrorism too. That I have resort to such a grotesque comparison speaks volumes of the few lower boundaries we as a "free society" have left.

Maybe in time, we'll be discussing the possible advantages of genocide too. After all, our "security" is paramount. I can't believe how freaking crazy Western society has become. Then again, history is doomed to repeat itself.

thx for this collection of info

“She thought it would be cool to be in the room.” - what a pervert. Sure, there needs to be an investigation into the sadistic torquemada-bes who went beyond the illegal 'authorized' methods, but there needs to be a full investigation of the whole torture-interrogation program and all the people involved. If they didn't know what they were doing was wrong and illegal (and ineffective) then, they shouldn't be in the CIA now- and neither should any CIA employees who 'failed' to pass on info that could've led to the disruption of the 9/11 plot.


My opinion

These both man needed to be tortured, because the perps knew that this will destroy everything they ever said.
They are both agents, moles in al qaida.

Look at Zubaida

In 2007, the New Yorker magazine will note, “American intelligence officials had been investigating [Khalil] Deek and [Abu] Zubaida’s activities since at least the late eighties,” but it will not explain why.
Zubaida, arrested three days earlier (see March 28, 2002), is flown to a US Special Forces compound outside of Kandahar, Afghanistan. There, he is tricked into thinking the US has handed him to the Saudis for a more brutal interrogation, but in fact “the Saudis” are still American agents. Zubaida expresses great relief at this and, under the influence of the “truth serum” sodium pentothal, tells his interrogators to call Prince Ahmed bin Salman, a nephew of the Saudi king. He provides telephone numbers from memory and says, “He will tell you what to do.” He proceeds to give more information and phone numbers, claiming ties with higher-ups in both the Saudi and Pakistani governments.


KSM is most likely an agent, too, as his nephew Ramzi Yousef.

We are still on the surface of this.

Not so sure about that

It's interesting to note that two of the intelligence officials (Rich B and Robert Fuller) involved in the withholding of information from the FBI's Cole investigators before 9/11 were also involved in the EITs. Rich B was a key player, but Fuller was only involved on one occasion, AFAIK.

IMHO it's unlikely Abu Zubaida and KSM were moles, more that they (especially KSM) had information the CIA did not want the FBI to know (at least not at that time) and that they were tortured not because the CIA wanted to get information out of them, but because Rich B knew the FBI (in particular Soufan) would have no part of it and he wanted to keep them from getting the information.