In the wake of the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes in direct violation of several court orders, it appears more and more information is being released about the wide rift between the CIA and FBI on the methods that were being used.
This sounds almost like a scene from 1998's The Seige where FBI Agent Hubbard (Denzel Washington) threatens to arrest General Devereux (Bruce Willis) for his treatment of a terrorist suspect. But this is far more than life immitating art.
Justice officials refused to comment on what the new A.G. will do, but White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said that if he does open an investigation, the White House would support him. The videotapes, made in 2002, showed the questioning of two high-level Qaeda detainees, including logistics chief Abu Zubaydah, whose interrogation at a secret cell in Thailand sparked an internal battle within the U.S. intelligence community after FBI agents angrily protested the aggressive methods that were used. In addition to waterboarding, Zubaydah was subjected to sleep deprivation and bombarded with blaring rock music by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. One agent was so offended he threatened to arrest the CIA interrogators, according to two former government officials directly familiar with the dispute.
Like Denzel, the real FBI was outraged by Zubaydah's treatment.
"They said, 'You've got to be kidding me,' " said Coleman, recalling accounts from FBI employees who were there. " 'This guy's a Muslim. That's not going to win his confidence. Are you trying to get information out of him or just belittle him?' " Coleman helped lead the bureau's efforts against Osama bin Laden for a decade, ending in 2004.
In contrast to the claims of CIA agent Kiriakou, Zubaydah didn't supposedly break after just "35 seconds" - just in time for the next commercial break in "24" - it took weeks.
According to Kiriakou's account, which he said is based on detailed descriptions by fellow team members, Abu Zubaida broke after just 35 seconds of waterboarding, which involved stretching cellophane over his mouth and nose and pouring water on his face to create the sensation of drowning.
But other former and current officials disagreed that Abu Zubaida's cooperation came quickly under harsh interrogation or that it was the result of a single waterboarding session. Instead, these officials said, harsh tactics used on him at a secret detention facility in Thailand went on for weeks or, depending on the account, even months.
Apparently there were several hundred hours of tapes documenting multiple waterboarding sessions with Zubaydah including techniques used during his attempts to sleep.
But interestingly, it appears that he actually gave better information before he was tortured than after...
During his first month of captivity, Abu Zubaida described an al-Qaeda associate whose physical description matched that of Padilla, leading to Padilla's arrest at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago in May 2002. A former CIA officer said in an interview that Abu Zubaida's "disclosure of Padilla was accidental." The officer added that Abu Zubaida "was talking about minor things and provided a small amount of information and a description of a person, just enough to identify him because he had just visited the U.S. Embassy" in Pakistan.
Other officials, including Bush, have said that during those early weeks -- before the interrogation turned harsh -- Abu Zubaida confirmed that Mohammed's role as the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Before he was tortured he gave us Padilla, and confirmed the involvement of KSM. So what did we get after he was tortured?
There is little dispute, according to officials from both agencies, that Abu Zubaida provided some valuable intelligence before CIA interrogators began to rough him up, including information that helped identify Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, and al-Qaeda operative Jose Padilla.
But FBI officials, including agents who questioned him after his capture or reviewed documents seized from his home, have concluded that even though he knew some al-Qaeda players, he provided interrogators with increasingly dubious information as the CIA's harsh treatment intensified in late 2002.
In legal papers prepared for a military hearing, Abu Zubaida himself has asserted that he told his interrogators whatever they wanted to hear to make the treatment stop.
Garbage In. Garage out.
In the film Denzel does eventually arrest Bruce for the torture and cold blooded murder of his suspect. In real life, the FBI Cut and Ran
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III eventually ordered the FBI team to withdraw from the interrogation, largely because bureau procedures prohibit agents from being involved in such techniques, according to several officials familiar with the episode.
Instead of upholding the Law, Mueller had the FBI agents withdraw - but then what choice did he have when all the criminal masterminds behind this plot - were in the Whitehouse.
This isn’t something done willy nilly. It’s not something that an agency officer just wakes up in the morning and decides he’s going to carry out an enhanced technique on a prisoner. This was a policy made at the White House, with concurrence from the National Security Council and Justice Department.
But apparently not the FBI, who happens to be the one agency with a long established track record at bringing criminals, including terrorists, to justice.