Sunday, August 12, 2007

Black sites and American credulity

Cross posted from Green Mountain Daily.

Throughout the war, the reporting in The New Yorker, both by Sy Hersh and Jane Mayer, has been indispensable to understanding what is actually going on.

In this week's New Yorker, Jane Mayer has a great piece about how the CIA has used torture to extract confessions from people it has decided are terrorists. The things that are being done in our name, with no assurance that they are gaining useful information or protecting the American people, are nothing short of shocking.
What may be newer is the way Mayer documents the manipulation of intelligence "disclosures" by the government, and how credulous the American press has been in swallowing whatever the government has decided to dish out.

Read this article today:


In March, Mariane Pearl, the widow of the murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, received a phone call from Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General. At the time, Gonzales’s role in the controversial dismissal of eight United States Attorneys had just been exposed, and the story was becoming a scandal in Washington. Gonzales informed Pearl that the Justice Department was about to announce some good news: a terrorist in U.S. custody—Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Al Qaeda leader who was the primary architect of the September 11th attacks—had confessed to killing her husband. (Pearl was abducted and beheaded five and a half years ago in Pakistan, by unidentified Islamic militants.) The Administration planned to release a transcript in which Mohammed boasted, “I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl in the city of Karachi, Pakistan. For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head.”
Pearl was taken aback. In 2003, she had received a call from Condoleezza Rice, who was then President Bush’s national-security adviser, informing her of the same news. But Rice’s revelation had been secret. Gonzales’s announcement seemed like a publicity stunt. Pearl asked him if he had proof that Mohammed’s confession was truthful; Gonzales claimed to have corroborating evidence but wouldn’t share it. “It’s not enough for officials to call me and say they believe it,” Pearl said. “You need evidence.” (Gonzales did not respond to requests for comment.)

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