Sunday, August 30, 2009


The Washington Post and Dick Cheney delivered an obviously coordinated one-two punch this weekend: Cheney defended torture on Fox News while the Post defended torture in an article subtitled "Sept. 11 Plotter Cooperated After Waterboarding."

Who were the sources for the Post article? Primarily people who wouldn't allow themselves to be identified, as Glenn Greenwald has noted.

But there's a passage in the Post article for which we might be able to name the source:

One former U.S. official with detailed knowledge of how the interrogations were carried out said Mohammed, like several other detainees, seemed to have decided that it was okay to stop resisting after he had endured a certain amount of pressure.

"Once the harsher techniques were used on [detainees], they could be viewed as having done their duty to Islam or their cause, and their religious principles would ask no more of them," said the former official, who requested anonymity because the events are still classified.

Where have I heard that sort of argument before? Oh yeah -- here:

Critics claim that enhanced techniques do not produce good intelligence because people will say anything to get the techniques to stop. But the memos note that, "as Abu Zubaydah himself explained with respect to enhanced techniques, 'brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship." In other words, the terrorists are called by their faith to resist as far as they can -- and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know. This is because of their belief that "Islam will ultimately dominate the world and that this victory is inevitable." The job of the interrogator is to safely help the terrorist do his duty to Allah, so he then feels liberated to speak freely.

That was from an April Post op-ed by Marc Thiessen, who, according to the biography at his blog,

collaborated with Secretary Rumsfeld on all of his major speeches during the first three years of the war on terror. He helped make the case for military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, and traveled more than 250,000 miles with the Secretary across the world -- including his first visits to Kabul and Baghdad immediately after liberation.

Mr. Thiessen saw the war on terror up close -- from the planning rooms of the Pentagon to the major battlefronts of the Middle East....

Is that the "former U.S. official with detailed knowledge of how the interrogations were carried out"? A guy who was just a freaking speechwriter (for Rumsfeld and later for Bush)? Is he one of the Post's big sources? Is the Post recycling his propaganda?

We learn here that Thiessen "is at work on a book on the CIA interrogation program that will be published by Regnery in 2010." So, yeah, I think so.

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