Sunday, November 06, 2005

This New York Times story is already on a hundred dufferent blogs, but I want to add my thoughts:

A top member of Al Qaeda in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.

The document, an intelligence report from February 2002, said it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, "was intentionally misleading the debriefers" in making claims about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda's work with illicit weapons.

The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi's credibility. Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi's information as "credible" evidence that Iraq was training Al-Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons....

In commenting on this, I'm supposed to make frequent outraged use of the word "lie."

The problem is, I don't think the administration lied about this. Saying that Cheney and his gang of True Believers lied is like saying that a psychopathic serial killer is lying when he claimed that a victim he's skinned and eaten was really his soul mate. In both cases, what we're dealing with is a sociopath's refusal to take in empirical evidence that threatens a deeply held belief system. It's incredibly dangerous. The authorities need to step in. The monster must be stopped. But the monster, however crazy, isn't lying.

Cheney and the rest believed, and persuaded everyone else in the administration to believe. They didn't have al-Libi tortured to get the truth out of him; they had him tortured to get him to "confirm" what they already "knew." Maybe they didn't even care that experts on torture say a tortured prisoner will make up whatever story he thinks you want to hear; that's precisely what they wanted. To Cheney et al., even if Libi lied about knowing of ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda, he'd be telling the truth -- the deeper truth, that the Saddam-Osama ties existed, contradictory evidence be damned.

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