Zelikow: I Didn’t Ask Rice About 2002 Torture Decisions

By
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 3:03 pm

One last thing from today’s Zelikow/Soufan hearing. Phil Zelikow was an aide to Condoleezza Rice when she served as secretary of state during George W. Bush’s second term. In his testimony, perhaps unsurprisingly, he portrayed Rice as pushing to restrict the Bush administration’s torture policies. “As Secretary of State, Dr. Rice placed a high priority on changing the national approach to the treatment of detainees,” Zelikow said in his opening statement, but the department ran into a bureaucratic buzzsaw of opposition from the Pentagon, Justice Department and elsewhere.

Perhaps. But according to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s declassified narrative on torture, Rice, as national security adviser in 2002, was the highest-ranking Bush official to approve torture as a “policy” matter. That approval came on July 17, 2002, before the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel gave its legal imprimatur to the torture of Abu Zubaydah. Now, people change their minds all the time, so maybe that’s what happened to Rice, particularly as she became secretary of state and saw what the international outcry from Abu Ghraib meant for U.S. diplomacy. But that’s conjecture. How did the Rice of 2002 evolve into the Rice of 2005 on the issue?

I asked Zelikow after the hearing ended, but he was circumspect. “I did not interrogate Dr. Rice about anything she did in the first Bush administration,” he replied. But he said it would be “useful to find out how the [CIA interrogation] program was understood” by Bush administration policymakers, adding that his experience suggested it was “sold incrementally” to them. The implication — sympathetic as it is to Zelikow’s former boss — is that Rice may not have fully understood what CIA Director George Tenet was asking her to approve.

Follow Spencer Ackerman on Twitter


Comments

3 Comments

knowbuddhau
Comment posted May 14, 2009 @ 5:22 am

It's nice that he's now mouthing the right lines, but let's not forget his role in stealing from us our sovereignty in the form of the truth of our time.

Zelikow's report was a whitewash. As Executive Director, he strangely failed to keep phone logs for the commission. It's impossible to know if anyone, Karl Rove for example, had improper contacts and influence.

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/2/7/the_9_11_c…

In the Democracy Now! interview, PZ keeps pointing to Democratic Party-vetted people to bolster his argument with “bipartisanship,” even though Lee Hamilton still has the stench of our Central American massacres. We're expected to have forgotten that like Zelikow seems to have.

Isn't this an estoppel argument? The Mysterious Dr.Z: What do you mean, my farts stink? I have reports from CIA that say they don't, and now CIA is under criminal investigation, so even if I do stink, which of course I suspected, why didn't CIA tell me?

DEMOCRACY NOW!: Did you ask them?

Philip Zelikow: “Um, I did not, but that wasn't uh, I wasn't the person who was pushing the issue directly with Tenet. That was more the job of my bosses on the commission, Tom Kane and Lee Hamilton and other commissioners. Um, it was….”

He's XO of the BushCo damage control team, so what's he do about being stonewalled by CIA? He complains vociferously in writing, but not a peep in person?

No, he says, that was the duty of his bosses, Kane&Hamilton, the two-headed bipartisan hydra. Look, he asked CIA lots of questions. In writing. The Bush Justice Department was supposedly investigating CIA, presumably for being such poor correspondents. And besides, they told him not to look, what could he do?

Zelikow himself said, one “can only assume that they had something they wished to UH something they didn't want the commission to know.”

How could poor Zelikow know that his shit stinks? You don't seriously expect him to trust his own senses, do you? That would be madness!

AMY GOODMAN: Did you know that these questions were obtained under duress, under torture?

PHILIP ZELIKOW: We did not know that. We could see that they were extremely reluctant to tell us about the circumstances, and therefore we could only assume that they felt they had something that they wished—they didn’t want the Commission to know about.

AMY GOODMAN: Did you ask if they were obtained through torture?

PHILIP ZELIKOW: We asked how they were obtained.

AMY GOODMAN: And what were you told?

PHILIP ZELIKOW: It was—we were told we can’t go in—we can’t tell you that. And we asked those questions—that’s why when the disclosure came out about the CIA tape recordings, people immediately said, “Well, did the Commission asked for information of this kind?” And we immediately prepared a report, which I did, actually, for Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, which has been leaked to the New York Times and is available on the internet, that details exactly how thoroughly we questioned CIA about the information surrounding these interrogations. And CIA’s alleged withholding of information from us is currently one of the subjects of the federal criminal investigation that’s now underway.

Zelikow later repeats that bit about the leak, as if citing a reference. Is that how they do things at UVirginia, where he was supposedly a professor of history?

And here's his fig leaf for torture: the infamous text box of page 146, in which he tried to bury his report's reliance on evidence manufactured to order by torture:

Detainee Interrogation Reports

Chapters 5 and 7 rely heavily on information obtained from captured al Qaeda members. A number of these “detainees” have firsthand knowledge of the 9/11 plot.

Assessing the truth of statements by these witnesses–sworn enemies of the United States–is challenging. Our access to them has been limited to the review of intelligence reports based on communications received from the locations where the actual interrogations take place. We submitted questions for use in the interrogations, but had no control over whether, when, or how questions of particular interest would be asked. Nor were we allowed to talk to the interrogators so that we could better judge the credibility of the detainees and clarify ambiguities in the reporting. We were told that our requests might disrupt the sensitive interrogation process.

We have nonetheless decided to include information from captured 9/11 conspirators and al Qaeda members in our report. We have evaluated their statements carefully and have attempted to corroborate them with documents statements of others. In this report, we indicate where such statements provide the foundation for our narrative. We have been authorized to identify by name only ten detainees whose custody has been confirmed officially by the U.S. government.*

____________

*Those detainees are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, Riduan Isamuddin (also known as Hambali), Abd Rahim al Nashiri, Tawfiq bin Attash (also known as Khallad), Ramzi Binalshibh, Mohamed al Kahtani, Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al Ani, Ali Abd al Rahman al Faqasi (also known as Abu Bakr al Azdi), and Hassan Ghul.

It's now known that we waterboarded KSM and AZ. SO, all of a sudden, PZ favors finding out what he covered up before? BS.

See also http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/05/13/report-m…


Photomaniacal » Blog Archive » Obama can’t keep torture under wraps | Ken Gude
Pingback posted May 14, 2009 @ 12:44 pm

[...] battles were largely within the corridors of power in Washington, but Ali Soufan, the FBI interrogator first assigned to coax information out of Abu Zubaydah, was [...]


knowbuddhau
Comment posted May 14, 2009 @ 12:22 pm

It's nice that he's now mouthing the right lines, but let's not forget his role in stealing from us our sovereignty in the form of the truth of our time.

Zelikow's report was a whitewash. As Executive Director, he strangely failed to keep phone logs for the commission. It's impossible to know if anyone, Karl Rove for example, had improper contacts and influence.

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/2/7/the_9_11_c…

In the Democracy Now! interview, PZ keeps pointing to Democratic Party-vetted people to bolster his argument with “bipartisanship,” even though Lee Hamilton still has the stench of our Central American massacres. We're expected to have forgotten that like Zelikow seems to have.

Isn't this an estoppel argument? The Mysterious Dr.Z: What do you mean, my farts stink? I have reports from CIA that say they don't, and now CIA is under criminal investigation, so even if I do stink, which of course I suspected, why didn't CIA tell me?

DEMOCRACY NOW!: Did you ask them?

Philip Zelikow: “Um, I did not, but that wasn't uh, I wasn't the person who was pushing the issue directly with Tenet. That was more the job of my bosses on the commission, Tom Kane and Lee Hamilton and other commissioners. Um, it was….”

He's XO of the BushCo damage control team, so what's he do about being stonewalled by CIA? He complains vociferously in writing, but not a peep in person?

No, he says, that was the duty of his bosses, Kean&Hamilton, the two-headed bipartisan hydra. Look, he asked CIA lots of questions. In writing. The Bush Justice Department was supposedly investigating CIA, presumably for being such poor correspondents. And besides, they told him not to look, what could he do?

Zelikow himself said, one “can only assume that they had something they wished to UH something they didn't want the commission to know.”

How could poor Zelikow know that his shit stinks? You don't seriously expect him to trust his own senses, do you? That would be madness!

AMY GOODMAN: Did you know that these questions were obtained under duress, under torture?

PHILIP ZELIKOW: We did not know that. We could see that they were extremely reluctant to tell us about the circumstances, and therefore we could only assume that they felt they had something that they wished—they didn’t want the Commission to know about.

AMY GOODMAN: Did you ask if they were obtained through torture?

PHILIP ZELIKOW: We asked how they were obtained.

AMY GOODMAN: And what were you told?

PHILIP ZELIKOW: It was—we were told we can’t go in—we can’t tell you that. And we asked those questions—that’s why when the disclosure came out about the CIA tape recordings, people immediately said, “Well, did the Commission asked for information of this kind?” And we immediately prepared a report, which I did, actually, for Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, which has been leaked to the New York Times and is available on the internet, that details exactly how thoroughly we questioned CIA about the information surrounding these interrogations. And CIA’s alleged withholding of information from us is currently one of the subjects of the federal criminal investigation that’s now underway.

Zelikow later repeats that bit about the leak, as if citing a reference. Is that how they do things at UVirginia, where he was supposedly a professor of history?

And here's his fig leaf for torture: the infamous text box of page 146, in which he tried to bury his report's reliance on evidence manufactured to order by torture:

Detainee Interrogation Reports

Chapters 5 and 7 rely heavily on information obtained from captured al Qaeda members. A number of these “detainees” have firsthand knowledge of the 9/11 plot.

Assessing the truth of statements by these witnesses–sworn enemies of the United States–is challenging. Our access to them has been limited to the review of intelligence reports based on communications received from the locations where the actual interrogations take place. We submitted questions for use in the interrogations, but had no control over whether, when, or how questions of particular interest would be asked. Nor were we allowed to talk to the interrogators so that we could better judge the credibility of the detainees and clarify ambiguities in the reporting. We were told that our requests might disrupt the sensitive interrogation process.

We have nonetheless decided to include information from captured 9/11 conspirators and al Qaeda members in our report. We have evaluated their statements carefully and have attempted to corroborate them with documents statements of others. In this report, we indicate where such statements provide the foundation for our narrative. We have been authorized to identify by name only ten detainees whose custody has been confirmed officially by the U.S. government.*

____________

*Those detainees are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, Riduan Isamuddin (also known as Hambali), Abd Rahim al Nashiri, Tawfiq bin Attash (also known as Khallad), Ramzi Binalshibh, Mohamed al Kahtani, Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al Ani, Ali Abd al Rahman al Faqasi (also known as Abu Bakr al Azdi), and Hassan Ghul.

It's now known that we waterboarded KSM and AZ. SO, all of a sudden, PZ favors finding out what he covered up before? BS.

See also http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/05/13/report-m…


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.