Guardian.co.uk: The Bush administration’s CIA smear campaign

Excerpt from Juan Cole at Guardian.co.uk:
Eminent national security correspondent at the New York Times James Risen has been told by a retired former official of the Central Intelligence Agency that the Bush White House repeatedly asked the CIA to spy on me with a view to discovering “damaging” information with which to discredit my reputation. Glenn Carle says he was called into the office of his superior, David Low, in 2005 and was asked of me, “‘What do you think we might know about him, or could find out that could discredit him?'”

Low actually wrote up a brief attempt in this direction and submitted it to the White House, but Carle says he intercepted it. Carle later discovered that yet another young analyst had been tasked with looking into me. It seems to me clear that the Bush White House was upset by my blogging of the Iraq war, in which I was using Arabic and other primary sources, and which contradicted the propaganda efforts of the administration attempting to make the enterprise look like a wild shining success.

Carle’s revelations come as a visceral shock. You had thought that with all the shennanigans of the CIA against anti-Vietnam war protesters and then Nixon’s use of the agency against critics like Daniel Ellsberg, that “the Company” and successive White Houses would have learned that the agency had no business spying on American citizens.

I believe Carle’s insider account and discount the glib denials of people like Low. Carle is taking a substantial risk in making all this public. I hope that the Senate and House intelligence committees will immediately launch an investigation of this clear violation of the law by the Bush White House and by the CIA officials concerned. Like Carle, I am dismayed at how easy it seems to have been for corrupt White House officials to suborn CIA personnel into activities that had nothing to do with national security abroad and everything to do with silencing domestic critics. This effort was yet another attempt to gut the fourth amendment of the US constitution, in this case as part of an effort to gut the first amendment of the US constitution.

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Wired Report: Bush White House Wanted CIA to Discredit Blogger

Juan Cole is a University of Michigan professor and Mideast expert who spent years writing nasty things about the Bush administration on his blog. For that, a former CIA official claims, the Bush White House wanted him to STFU, and asked the CIA to handle it.

Glenn Carle, a retired CIA counterterrorism official, tells the New York Times that in 2005, his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council returned from a White House meeting that discussed Cole’s writings — which, at the time, were heavy on invective against the Iraq war and the administration that launched it. “What do you think we might know about him, or could find out that could discredit him?,” Carle recalled his boss, David Low, inquiring.

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Ex-Spy Alleges Bush White House Sought to Discredit Critic

Excerpt from New York Times James Risen article:
WASHINGTON — A former senior C.I.A. official says that officials in the Bush White House sought damaging personal information on a prominent American critic of the Iraq war in order to discredit him.

Glenn L. Carle, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was a top counterterrorism official during the administration of President George W. Bush, said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who writes an influential blog that criticized the war.

In an interview, Mr. Carle said his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council told him in 2005 that White House officials wanted “to get” Professor Cole, and made clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to collect information about him, an effort Mr. Carle rebuffed. Months later, Mr. Carle said, he confronted a C.I.A. official after learning of another attempt to collect information about Professor Cole. Mr. Carle said he contended at the time that such actions would have been unlawful….

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Torture useless in hunt for bin Laden

“I think that without a doubt, torture and enhanced interrogation techniques slowed down the hunt for bin Laden,” Matthew Alexander told The Huffington Post.

Alexander, an Air Force interrogator, was able to successfully locate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, in 2006.

Alexander, along with other intelligence professionals, said the use of torture may cause people to lie or make false confessions.

“They gave us the bare minimum amount of information they could get away with to get the pain to stop, or to mislead us,” Alexander said of several Guantanamo Bay detainees.

“[Osama bin Laden’s death] vindicates the Bush administration, whose intelligence architecture marked the path to bin Laden’s door,” John Yoo, the former Justice Department official under the Bush administration who authored the secret ‘torture memos,’ said on Monday. Under Bush, the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” i.e. torture, was legally sanctioned.

A 2006 study by the National Defense Intelligence College found that rapport-based interrogations are very effective in obtaining information, whereas coercion involving physical brutality consistently builds resistance and resentment.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged 9/11 mastermind, repeatedly misled interrogators on a key al-Qaeda suspect, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. Sheikh Mohammad, who has reportedly been waterboarded 183 times in one month, has been subjected to other physical abuses upon being detained by US authorities.

“The bottom line is this: If we had some kind of smoking-gun intelligence from waterboarding in 2003, we would have taken out Osama bin Laden in 2003,” spokesman for the National Security Council Tommy Vietor said.

Glenn L. Carle, a retired CIA officer said that torture, “didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information,” in tracking down bin Laden.

LF/PKH/MMN

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Bin Laden raid renews debate on interrogations: USA Today

When Barack Obama became president, he announced an end to the enhanced interrogations of al-Qaeda leaders at secret detention facilities that his predecessor, George W. Bush, said were essential to breaking up terror networks in the long-term.

Obama instead ramped up the targeted killing of terrorists with drone strikes, taking out many more than under Bush.

But the revelation that tips prodded from captured al-Qaeda members subjected to “enhanced interrogations” led to the capture of Osama bin Laden has ignited a debate over whether Obama should revisit the policies he cast aside.

John Yoo, the Bush White House lawyer who ruled that terror suspects were “enemy combatants” could be handled outside the criminal justice system said the United States is “losing vital intelligence opportunities if we are killing bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders when we have the opportunity to capture them.”

Michael Vietor, spokesman for Obama’s National Security Council, said the value of the enhanced interrogation techniques has been overblown.

“It’s impossible to know whether information obtained by EITs (enhanced interrogation techniques) could have been obtained by other forms of interrogation,” Vietor said. “There’s no way that information obtained by EITs was the decisive intelligence that led us directly to bin Laden.”

Other CIA operatives say the program was ineffective in the long-term.
Glenn Carle, a former CIA operations officer who interrogated a suspected al-Qaeda leader, said the Bush detainee program was “a hugely labor-intensive operation” that’s “not sustainable for a large number of people over an extended period of time.” Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, was eventually found and killed without enhanced interrogation techniques, said Matthew Alexander, a retired Air Force officer and interrogator.

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Harpers.org Interview

“The Interrogator”: Six Questions for Glenn Carle
By Scott Horton

A career clandestine-services officer in the CIA, Glenn Carle drew an unusual assignment in the fall of 2002. He was sent to serve as the case officer of an Afghan merchant who had been seized and rendered, and who was believed to be Osama bin Laden’s “banker.” Carle quickly discerned, however, that the Agency’s suspicions were unjustified — what followed was a frustrating effort by Carle to win his release. In The Interrogator: An Education, Carle describes his struggle against the lethargy and self-protective instincts of the U.S. intelligence community. In the process, he discloses a great deal about the renditions process and the Agency’s reticence to acknowledge or act on its own mistakes. I put six questions to Glenn Carle about his book:

1. Your book was published following a year-long struggle with the CIA Publications Review Board, which insisted on redacting large amounts of material before it approved the work for publication. Even the fact that you speak fluent French has been blacked out. But a great deal of what was redacted is perfectly obvious or can easily be derived from the public record — for instance, we note in “Unredacting The Interrogator” that CAPTUS is in fact Pacha Wazir, that you first interrogated him at a location jointly operated by the CIA and Moroccan intelligence near Rabat, and that the prisoner was then removed to the CIA’s Salt Pit prison in Afghanistan. The PRB claims that it redacts to protect national-security-sensitive materials. Do you think the heavy redaction of your book was appropriate?

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Former CIA Interrogator: Painstaking Intelligence Work, Not Torture, Responsible For Bin Laden Capture

What if a tiny piece of information that led to bin Laden came from torture or EITs? Today, Glenn Carle — who served 23 years in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations and for a time led the interrogation of a high value detainee — told ThinkProgress that if it the answer is yes, the right-wing will use that and say, “See torture works.” While Carle said it’s possible that EITs might provide information, that doesn’t mean they should ever be used:

CARLE: Well I change the tense and say not that they will use that but that they are using that within I think four hours of the announcement that bin Laden’s death.

Ultimately you get to an ends means debate. … The ends does not justify the means and you don’t build a policy, in this instance with regard to acceptable legal procedures, based upon the hypothetical, theoretical case which is five or ten standard deviations from the norm which happens one time in 5 million. What you do is you base your policies on an ever-changing calculus of probability likelihood and what is considered liked and works. And the answer to all of those questions should quite clearly exclude EITs. Is it possible that a specific piece of information from time to time would come from EITs? The answer is yes. To be fair the answer is yes. Does it justify using them? A categorical flat no.

Carle also said that during his time at CIA, “almost all the information obtained from EITs was recalled…because it was viewed as unreliable.”

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Bin Laden’s Death Rekindles Torture Debate

The killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has reignited the debate over torture. Advocates of “enhanced interrogation techniques” argue the mission validates their position, while others contend that tough questioning played a small role.

Former Bush administration officials, such as John Yoo, who authored memos justifying the techniques, and members of Congress, such as House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., were quick to claim vindication. However, The New York Times reported that the techniques played a small role at best in identifying the courier that led to bin Laden’s lair.

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