Waterboarding of ‘Prized’ Gitmo Prisoner Yielded False Leads

March 29, 2009

(ChattahBox)—An outstanding piece in the Washington Post this morning, chronicling the capture, imprisonment, interrogation and ultimate torture by waterboarding, of Abu Zubaida, captured in Pakistan by CIA officials in 2002, long considered a high-profile al-Qaeda “mastermind.” Former officials now acknowledge that Zubaida was not a mastermind of any sort, but a low-level fixer and travel agent for radical Muslim ideologues. Former CIA officials say any information Zubaida had; he gave up during traditional interrogations, and although the information was significant, the revelations were not of a blockbuster variety.

However, the Bush administration and others were not satisfied. They became convinced Zubaida knew information about Bin Laden and other terrorist plots, and were intent at extracting it from him at any cost.

Former CIA officials claim they were pressured daily by the White House to get those secrets out of him. The White House was convinced they had their hands on a top al-Qaeda leader who knew details of future operations against the US. However, CIA officials say it became clear soon after his capture that Zubaida was not even a member of al-Qaeda, although he had links with the organization, and the CIA misjudged his importance.

That didn’t stop the White House from authorizing waterboarding of Zubaida to extract the information they were convinced he possessed, despite credible evidence to the contrary. What happened next, is a total repudiation of the use of torture and waterboarding, as a successful tool to extract information from prisoners.

After Zubaida was subjected to waterboarding, he gave up false leads and names to make the horrendous torture stop, sending CIA agents around the globe, chasing ghosts, shadows and false leads, spending millions of dollars and wasting years of valuable time in the process.

Despite, the failure of torture to produce useful leads, convictions and information, the Bush White House officials and CIA leaders insisted the harsh treatment of Zubaida and other prisoners produced useful intelligence, which disrupted terrorist plots and saved the lives of Americans. Even former Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on CNN recently claiming, “the enhanced interrogation program stopped a great many terrorist attacks on the level of Sept. 11, without providing any evidence of his claims, saying it was still classified.

Now, the Obama administration has to decide what to do with him, as Abu Zubaida is not thought to be able to stand trial because of the taint of torture. The International Red Cross says the treatment of Abu Zubaida and others detainees constituted torture. Zubaida recently refused to confess to FBI “clean teams” who tried to re-interview him under the rule of law.

More telling, Guantanamo Bay prosecutors expunged Abu Zubaida’s name from the current charge sheets of detainees who were captured with him, and accused of conspiracy and support of terrorism. Abu Zubaida was born as, Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed in Saudi Arabia to a Palestinian father and a Jordanian mother. His lawyer is asking that he be sent to Saudi Arabia, where he has relatives.

Some US officials want to go ahead and charge Zubaida with conspiracy, but others are fearful of taking him to court, since he was waterboarded on false assumptions. If taken to trial, the details of his horrendous treatment would become public, and he may be acquitted as a result, setting a legal precedent against torture.

Other officials want to ship him out to Jordan, as officials there can connect Zubaida to terrorist plots to attack a hotel and Christian holy sites in their country. What US officials ultimately decide to do with Zubaida is open to question.

There is no dispute that Zubaida was involved at some level with terrorists. What is in dispute is the level of his involvement with al-Qaeda and Bin Laden, and how illegal torture failed to elicit any useful intelligence. The Waterboarding instead, may have compromised any chance of ultimately bringing him to trial on any charges in the US.


2 Responses to “Waterboarding of ‘Prized’ Gitmo Prisoner Yielded False Leads”

  1. Bloggers Uncover Torture Memo Scoop: Waterboarding Used 266 Times on Two Suspects! | ChattahBox News Blog on April 20th, 2009 7:37 pm

    […] successful in obtaining information that kept America safe. Instead, the use of torture elicited false leads, sending CIA agents on world-wide goose chases, especially in the case of Abu […]

  2. Rice and Cheney Approved Waterboarding: They Have Some Explaining to Do | ChattahBox News Blog on April 23rd, 2009 1:32 pm

    […] delivered approval to CIA Director George Tenet, for CIA interrogators to waterboard Abu Zubaydah, erroneously considered by the Bush administration to be a high-level al-Qaida operative. OLC legal memos […]

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