The American era of torture

Book Black BannersHaving just read Ali Soufan’s 2011 book, “The Black Banners,” I am more convinced than ever that our government’s era of torturing “terrorists” was not about seeking accurate information.  It was about the Bush administration’s desire to extract faulty information that would suit its agenda.  That is, the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

What better way to get the excuse you need than torture?

I use terrorists in quotes because, as almost every knowledgeable person knows, many of the prisoners held at Guantanamo and some sent to other countries for torture, a practice known as rendition, were never proven guilty of anything.  Yet some have remained there in “Gitmo” for more than a decade.  As “terrorists.”

The book’s title comes from a Muslim hadith, or saying:  “If you see the black banners coming from Khurasan, join that army, even if you have to crawl over ice; no power will be able to stop them and they will finally reach [Jerusalem] where they will erect their flags.”  The saying was used by recruiters for al-Qaeda.

The book’s subtitle, by the way, is “The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda.”

No one knows this better than Soufan, an Arabic-speaking Lebanese who was one of the lead FBI interrogators from the 1990s to the time he resigned in frustration in 2005.

In the coming weeks, I plan to write about various matters regarding torture that Soufan presents in his book.  Some topics include investigation into the bombing of the USS Cole, traditional interrogation techniques v. enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs, or torture), CIA’s interference with FBI interrogations and how 9/11 might have been prevented if the CIA had shared info with the FBI.

Shortly after Barrack Obama’s election in 2008, the EIT program was suspended.  Suspended, yes.  But always a threat to return under a new administration.

Dick Cheney’s name is rarely mentioned in Soufan’s book, but a careful reader will discover the former Vice President’s thumb print on everything that went wrong before and after 9/11.  And why the Bush administration will, or should, go down as the worst in U.S. history.

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