Friday, May 22, 2009


“Terrorist plot” smells like another dumb entrapment

by Larry Geller

Osama must be laughing as he surfs the headlines on the web.

You probably spotted the story on the four petty criminals who have been promoted to terrorist status. I suppose now it’s ok to take them someplace and torture them until they confess their close connection to Al Qaeda.

This smells like entrapment. Certainly, we are no safer because these losers were lead on and assisted just so that they could be arrested at an opportune moment.  For instance, the moment when Dick Cheney needed to make his point on the importance of enhanced interrogation on keeping America safe.

It’s sad that our newspapers don’t at least raise the question of entrapment.

As to timing, Cheney kept making the case that we are safer for all that torture. His fellow Republican, Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former chief of staff of the Department of State during the term of Secretary of State Colin Powell, took his arguments apart quite neatly (see: The Wshington Note, The Truth About Richard Bruce Cheney, 5/13/2009). This article was written a week ago, and it was interesting to have it in hand while checking out Cheney’s latest TV blast.

In fact, Cheney did not only authorize torture to “keep America safe” according to Wilkerson, but to extract false information to justify American military actions. Just like we accuse our enemies of doing:

Likewise, what I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002--well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion--its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida.

So furious was this effort that on one particular detainee, even when the interrogation team had reported to Cheney's office that their detainee "was compliant" (meaning the team recommended no more torture), the VP's office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods. The detainee had not revealed any al-Qa'ida-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, "revealed" such contacts. Of course later we learned that al-Libi revealed these contacts only to get the torture to stop.

There in fact were no such contacts. (Incidentally, al-Libi just "committed suicide" in Libya. Interestingly, several U.S. lawyers working with tortured detainees were attempting to get the Libyan government to allow them to interview al-Libi....)

So now we have some newly anointed terrorists to keep the fear going. And Dick Cheney (Wilkerson refers to him as the Sith Lord who shares leadership of the Republican Party with Rush Limbaugh) just won’t give up the scare tactic. Someone should count the 9/11 references in his speech.

So let me close with this soon-to-be-famous (?) line: “The only thing we have to fear are the fearmongers themselves.”


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