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July 07, 2006


I was thinking of the Nazi analogy just as I got to it. It's really amazing that in so many ways the Bush administration appears determined to ignore or even distort the historical record of failure regarding collaboration with evil powers and regimes. Like their use of secret evidence and the witless actions of many of the anti-terrorism prosecutors in the DoJ, they're willing to accept any crap evidence to implicate someone in terrorism. On the domestic level the accusations are often made to the DoJ by disgruntled family members or people who stand to gain materially by the incarceration of the individual. On the international level, the claims are made for political reasons, like the Libyan example you cite. On the strategic level, you have Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, and increasingly of late the Iranian exile groups. That on every level the Bush administration can so easily be manipulated by people, groups or governments that can induce actions that benefit the accusers is something worthy of a good analysis. What's the mindset or the political assumption that leads the Bushies to value the ability to act with impunity on such shaky and often self-serving accusations, often to the detriment of national interests and often leading to political damage to the administration (as in the case of the numerous failed terrorism trials in the US)? There's some type of screwed up world view at work here.

It has been proven over and over that torture doesn't work nearly as well as interrogation by cajolement, as the FBI teaches. But the latter takes skill and patience and an understanding of the subject, something sorely lacking in the Bush Regime.

There is an article in the July 10 & 17 "New Yorker" by Lawrence Wright about a young Lebanese-American FBI agent named Ali Soufan who was head of the Cole bombing investigation. He was a master of interrogation using the standard FBI techniques of befriending the witness and exploiting his psychological weaknesses. Plus he spoke Arabic and had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Koran. The long and short of it is that he probably could have put the pieces of the 9/11 plot together if the CIA had given him the information he kept requesting. But they didn't, because of turf and suspicions of his boss, John O'Neill.

The article (Wright will come out with a book next month called "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11") is worth the price of the magazine. The accounts of his interrogations show how it can and should be done.

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