Obama; Barack

Al Qaeda suspect waterboarded before "legal authorization"


"US 'waterboarding' row rekindled"
BBC, July 13, 2009

Fresh claims have emerged that a key al-Qaeda suspect was waterboarded before the Bush government lawyers issued written authorisation to do so.

A former CIA agent has told the BBC that Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded by the CIA in May or June 2002.

The date was provided by former CIA agent John Kiriakou. The practice was sanctioned in written memos by Bush administration lawyers in August 2002.

The CIA says waterboarding did not take place before August 2002.

Officials have refused to tell the BBC when it did occur.

Legal memos

Mr Kiriakou led the CIA team that captured Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan on 28 March 2002, and was the first to speak to the badly injured captive before returning to the US.

There he monitored the internal communications that came in (cable traffic) on Abu Zubaydah's interrogation at a secret CIA prison from the organisation's headquarters in Virginia.

CIA probes could derail Obama's plans


by Kevin Connolly
BBC, July 13, 2009

In the world of intelligence gathering the past never really goes away - it stays around to haunt the present and set traps for the future.

The issue of how America conducted its "war on terror" - who it tortured and detained and on whose orders - is full of such traps.

We know that Barack Obama knows this - he talks about the need to move forward rather than to look back - but that is no guarantee that he will be able to resist calls for some sort of investigation of the Bush administration's intelligence policies.

The argument from the human rights lobby and the left of the Democratic Party appears to have gained ground in Washington in the last week or so - some sort of enquiry is now necessary, they believe, to re-assert the rule of law and restore America to the moral high ground of international diplomacy.

Dirty linen

The case against re-opening the wounds of the recent past lacks moral clarity, perhaps, but it is no less passionately held among Republicans.