|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Friday, October 15, 2004
Haaretz on CIA's Al Queda detainees in Jordon: "The Central Intelligence Agency declined Wednesday to comment on a Haaretz report that it is holding 11 susepcted senior Al-Qaida members in Jordan, the BBC reported. Haaretz has learned from international intelligence sources that the CIA is running a top-secret interrogation facility in Jordan, where the detainees - considered Al-Qaida's most senior cadre - are being held. Since the war in Afghanistan ended three years ago, reports spoke of these special detainees being held outside the United States, but no location was mentioned. A report on these prisoners issued Tuesday by the Human Rights Watch organization claims they are being held somewhere so secret that U.S. President George Bush asked the CIA heads not to report it to him. ..
Their detention outside the U.S. enables CIA interrogators to apply interrogation methods that are banned by U.S. law, and to do so in a country where cooperation with the Americans is particularly close, thereby reducing the danger of leaks. ..
The CIA's prisoners at the facility in Jordan include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, considered Al-Qaida's head of operations and number three in the Al-Qaida hierarchy .. along with the Yemeni Ramzi bin al-Shibh .. Also at the secret facility are Abu Zubaydah, described as Al-Qaida's "recruitment officer," and Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali, who was captured in Thailand a year ago. The Indonesian Hambali was the only non-Arab Muslim participant in Al-Qaida's supreme military council. He served as the operations chief for Jemaah Islamiya, which was behind attacks in the Philippines before 9/11 and for the attack on the Bali night club in October 2002 that killed over 200 people.
Haaretz was unable to obtain the identities of the other detainees in Jordan...
The 46-page Human Rights Watch report levels harsh criticism at the U.S. administration for using "undisclosed locations" and "disappearing" prisoners. The report charges that the U.S. thereby is in breach of all international conventions, including the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war, by refusing prisoners access to the Red Cross or their families. The report contends that American operatives detained Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's children to serve as "hostages" through which to pressure their father into cooperating. The prisoners were subjected to severe torture, the report states. " 10:56:08 PM
Through Hussein's Looking Glass: The Duelfer report has insights on what Iraqis were thinking: "In Hussein's view, Washington and Baghdad should have been close allies. He could have helped curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, and solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He offered to become America's "best friend in the region, bar none." He was certain U.S. forces would never invade. .. In Hussein's view, the U.S. priority in the region was to ensure that Iran's Islamic Revolution did not spread to other nations and give radical Shiite clerics a chokehold on global oil supplies. He was convinced that Washington's national interest lay in containing Iran's suspected nuclear arms program, not in toppling his regime...
Hussein's own view of the United States was conflicted. In his mind, he was a heroic leader who gained prestige in the Arab world for his defiance of the sole superpower. But Hussein told aides it would be equally prestigious to become a U.S. ally. So he used U.N. diplomats, journalists and others to carry back-channel offers to improve relations with Washington. "They really thought they could cut a deal," said a former CIA officer who was contacted by a senior Iraqi official shortly before the invasion in March 2003. ..
Ironically, Saddam Hussein misread U.S. intentions in part because he believed the CIA was far better at spying than it turned out to be. Senior aides told interrogators that Hussein was convinced the U.S. intelligence agency knew he had no illicit weapons. Hussein assumed that the CIA had penetrated his regime, just as his own intelligence services used wiretaps, secret cameras and informants to spy on the U.N. weapons teams. He was wrong. In July, the Senate Intelligence Committee reported that the CIA had no informants or spies inside Iraq for at least five years before the war. .. Other Iraqis also believed in the CIA. Duelfer recounts how a top regime official, Abdel Tawab Mullah Huweish, began to worry that Hussein was hiding banned weapons after Bush named Iraq as part of an "axis of evil" in January 2002. "Huweish could not understand why the United States would challenge Iraq in such stark and threatening terms unless it had irrefutable information," Duelfer writes. ..
In other cases, U.S. officials simply misunderstood the high-tech intelligence they had. On Feb. 5, 2003, for example, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell appeared at the U.N. Security Council [and] played a tape of a phone call that he said was intercepted on Jan. 30 between a Republican Guard officer and an underling in the field. According to Powell, the officer issued orders to "clean out all the areas, the scrap areas, the abandoned areas. Make sure nothing is there."
Powell said the tape proved Hussein was hiding "the presence of weapons of mass destruction." U.S. investigators never found the officers. But they concluded that Powell misinterpreted the tape. The call concerned materials from Iraq's long-defunct, pre-1991 arms program, not new weapons. In fact, on Jan. 25, five days before the call was taped, a senior regime official met Republican Guard military leaders and warned that "the government would hold them responsible" if U.N. inspectors found any of the old material in their areas "or if there was anything that cast doubt on Iraq's cooperation." " 10:51:17 PM
Iraq's New Power Couple: How Sadr and Chalabi are working together as Shiites, towards the coming elections. Hopeful, if it is true... "The Mahdi Army insurrections this summer in Najaf and Sadr City had nothing to do with Mr. Sadr's thinking that he could achieve military goals against American forces. If he had wanted to derail the occupation, he would have done what the Sunni insurgents do.. Rather, he was moving to ensure his future role by seizing political momentum among the Shiite demographic that matters to him: the young urban poor. Similarly, it is not weariness and attrition that are now making him lay down his weapons. It is easy to buy or make more weapons in Iraq. And the ranks of his followers can be as endlessly replenished as were those of the Vietcong. ..
Mr. Sadr's new party and the older Shiite groups are likely to form the basis for a unified list of candidates that should capture at least 55 percent of the vote in January - and possibly more if Kurdish and Sunni groups can be brought into the fold. If this front includes all Shiite factions, it will receive Ayatollah Sistani's approval. But if it leaves out any important Shiite components - including Mr. Sadr - the old man will remain silent. Thus Mr. Sadr's new direction, like his efforts in Najaf, is not a military move but a political one. Just as most of his country's violence consists of Iraqi attacks against fellow Iraqis, the basic fact of Iraqi politics is not opposition to the occupation, but maneuvering between Iraqis in the game of sectarian and ethnic politics. ..
Meanwhile, Ahmad Chalabi's resurgence is natural. While American officials have been embarrassed by reports that he convinced them of exaggerated claims about Saddam Hussein's weapons, most Iraqis do not care if he hoodwinked Washington. He is an Iraqi, and his loyalties and destiny lie with his own country, not America. What does matter to Iraqis is that if there is one man alive without whom Saddam Hussein would still be in power, that man is Mr. Chalabi. " 5:38:35 PM