U.S. Officials Created a False Link Between Iraq and 9/11
5 hours after the 9/11 attacks, Donald Rumsfeld said u201Cmy interest is to hit Saddamu201D.
And at 2:40 p.m. on September 11th, in a memorandum of discussions between top administration officials, several lines below the statement u201Cjudge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [that is, Saddam Hussein] at same timeu201D, is the statement u201CHard to get a good case.u201D In other words, top officials knew that there wasn't a good case that Hussein was behind 9/11, but they wanted to use the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to justify war with Iraq anyway.
Moreover, u201CTen days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the [9/11] attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaedau201D.
And a Defense Intelligence Terrorism Summary issued in February 2002 by the United States Defense Intelligence Agency cast significant doubt on the possibility of a Saddam Hussein-al-Qaeda conspiracy.
And yet Bush, Cheney and other top administration officials claimed repeatedly for years that Saddam was behind 9/11. See this analysis. Indeed, Bush administration officials apparently swore in a lawsuit that Saddam was behind 9/11.
Moreover, President Bush's March 18, 2003 letter to Congress authorizing the use of force against Iraq, includes the following paragraph:
(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
Therefore, the Bush administration expressly justified the Iraq war to Congress by representing that Iraq planned, authorized, committed, or aided the 9/11 attacks.
Indeed, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind reports that the White House ordered the CIA to forge and backdate a document falsely linking Iraq with Muslim terrorists and 9/11 … and that the CIA complied with those instructions and in fact created the forgery, which was then used to justify war against Iraq. And see this.
Suskind also revealed that u201CBush administration had information from a top Iraqi intelligence official u2018that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion.' u201D
Cheney made the false linkage between Iraq and 9/11 on many occasions.
For example, according to Raw Story, Cheney was still alleging a connection between Iraq and the alleged lead 9/11 hijacker in September 2003 — a year after it had been widely debunked. When NBC's Tim Russert asked him about a poll showing that 69% of Americans believed Saddam Hussein had been involved in 9/11, Cheney replied:
It's not surprising that people make that connection.
And even after the 9/11 Commission debunked any connection, Cheney said that the evidence is u201Coverwhelmingu201D that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein's regime , that Cheney u201Cprobablyu201D had information unavailable to the Commission, and that the media was not u2018doing their homework' in reporting such ties.
On December 16, 2005, Bush admitted “There was no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the attack of 9/11″ (and see this video). However, Bush and Cheney continued to frequently invoke 9/11 as justification for the Iraq war. And see this. (Cheney finally admitted in 2009 that there was no link.)
A bipartisan Senate Report from 2006 found that Bush misled the press on Iraq link to Al-Qaeda.
The administration’s false claims about Saddam and 9/11 helped convince a large portion of the American public to support the invasion of Iraq. While the focus now may be on false WMD claims, it is important to remember that, at the time, the alleged link between Iraq and 9/11 was at least as important in many people’s mind as a reason to invade Iraq.
Indeed, the false claims about Iraqi WMDs probably would not have gained traction if it wasn’t for the anti-Arab hysteria after September 11th. And the government policy of torture would not have been tolerated if we weren’t misled into thinking that Saddam and Al-Qaeda had formed an unholy, all-powerful alliance on 9/11, and had to be stopped at any cost. Thus, the Saddam-911 deception was a necessary precursor to the administration’s WMD lies and torture policies.
And 2006 polls show that almost 90% of the troops in Iraq are under the mistaken belief that the U.S. mission in that country is u201Cto retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9-11 attacks.u201D In other words, our kids are fighting and dying because of this lie.
U.S. Officials Launched a Systematic Program of Torture Using Specialized Techniques Which Produce False Confessions … to Justify the Iraq War
Not only did Bush, Cheney and other top government officials lie about us into the Iraq war by making a false linkage between Iraq and 9/11, but they carried out a systematic program of torture in order to intentionally create false evidence of that allegation.
Indeed, the entire purpose behind the U.S. torture program was to obtain false confessions.
And the torture techniques used were Communist techniques specifically designed to produce false confessions.
Senator Levin, in commenting on a Senate Armed Services Committee report on torture in 2009, dropped the following bombshell:
With last week's release of the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinions, it is now widely known that Bush administration officials distorted Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape u201CSEREu201D training — a legitimate program used by the military to train our troops to resist abusive enemy interrogations — by authorizing abusive techniques from SERE for use in detainee interrogations. Those decisions conveyed the message that abusive treatment was appropriate for detainees in U.S. custody. They were also an affront to the values articulated by General Petraeus.
In SERE training, U.S. troops are briefly exposed, in a highly controlled setting, to abusive interrogation techniques used by enemies that refuse to follow the Geneva Conventions. The techniques are based on tactics used by Chinese Communists against American soldiers during the Korean War for the purpose of eliciting false confessions for propaganda purposes. Techniques used in SERE training include stripping trainees of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, subjecting them to face and body slaps, depriving them of sleep, throwing them up against a wall, confining them in a small box, treating them like animals, subjecting them to loud music and flashing lights, and exposing them to extreme temperatures. Until recently, the Navy SERE school also used waterboarding. The purpose of the SERE program is to provide U.S. troops who might be captured a taste of the treatment they might face so that they might have a better chance of surviving captivity and resisting abusive and coercive interrogations.
Senator Levin then documents that SERE techniques were deployed as part of an official policy on detainees, and that SERE instructors helped to implement the interrogation programs. He noted:
The senior Army SERE psychologist warned in 2002 against using SERE training techniques during interrogations in an email to personnel at Guantanamo Bay, because:
[T]he use of physical pressures brings with it a large number of potential negative side effects… When individuals are gradually exposed to increasing levels of discomfort, it is more common for them to resist harder… If individuals are put under enough discomfort, i.e. pain, they will eventually do whatever it takes to stop the pain. This will increase the amount of information they tell the interrogator, but it does not mean the information is accurate. In fact, it usually decreases the reliability of the information because the person will say whatever he believes will stop the pain… Bottom line: the likelihood that the use of physical pressures will increase the delivery of accurate information from a detainee is very low. The likelihood that the use of physical pressures will increase the level of resistance in a detainee is very high… (p. 53).
McClatchy filled in some of the details:
Former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration…
For most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.u201D
It was during this period that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaida detainees repeatedly – Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times in March 2003 – according to a newly released Justice Department document…
When people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people to push harder,u201D he continued.u201DCheney's and Rumsfeld's people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn't any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam . . .
A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under u201Cpressureu201D to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.
u201CWhile we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq,u201D Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. u201CThe more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.u201D
u201CI think it's obvious that the administration was scrambling then to try to find a connection, a link (between al Qaida and Iraq),u201D [Senator] Levin said in a conference call with reporters. u201CThey made out links where they didn't exist.u201D
Levin recalled Cheney's assertions that a senior Iraqi intelligence officer had met Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, in the Czech Republic capital of Prague just months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The FBI and CIA found that no such meeting occurred.
In other words, top Bush administration officials not only knowingly lied about a non-existent connection between Al Qaida and Iraq, but they pushed and insisted that interrogators use special torture methods aimed at extracting false confessions to attempt to create such a false linkage.
The Washington Post reported the same year:
Despite what you've seen on TV, torture is really only good at one thing: eliciting false confessions. Indeed, Bush-era torture techniques, we now know, were cold-bloodedly modeled after methods used by Chinese Communists to extract confessions from captured U.S. servicemen that they could then use for propaganda during the Korean War.
So as shocking as the latest revelation in a new Senate Armed Services Committee report may be, it actually makes sense – in a nauseating way. The White House started pushing the use of torture not when faced with a u201Cticking time bombu201D scenario from terrorists, but when officials in 2002 were desperately casting about for ways to tie Iraq to the 9/11 attacks – in order to strengthen their public case for invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 at all.
Gordon Trowbridge writes for the Detroit News: u201CSenior Bush administration officials pushed for the use of abusive interrogations of terrorism detainees in part to seek evidence to justify the invasion of Iraq, according to newly declassified information discovered in a congressional probe.
Indeed, one of the two senior instructors from the Air Force team which taught U.S. servicemen how to resist torture by foreign governments when used to extract false confessions has blown the whistle on the true purpose behind the U.S. torture program.
George Washington blogs at Washington’s Blog.