On September 11, 2006, the fifth anniversary of Al Qaeda’s attacks on America, another devastating terrorist plot was meant to unfold. Radical Islamists had set in motion a conspiracy to hijack seven passenger planes departing from Heathrow Airport, in London, and blow them up in midair. . . . The plot, of course, was thwarted—an outcome that has been credited to smart detective work. But Thiessen writes that there is a more important reason that his dreadful scenario never came to pass: the Central Intelligence Agency provided the United Kingdom with pivotal intelligence, using “enhanced interrogation techniques” approved by the Bush Administration. . . . Yet Thiessen is better at conveying fear than at relaying the facts. His account of the foiled Heathrow plot, for example, is “completely and utterly wrong,” according to Peter Clarke, who was the head of Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorism branch in 2006. . . .Read all of Mayer's review at The New Yorker.
“Courting Disaster” has a scholarly feel, and hundreds of footnotes, but it is based on a series of slipshod premises. . . .
In order to make the case that America was blind to the threat of Al Qaeda in the days before 9/11, Thiessen skips over the scandalous amount of intelligence that reached the Bush White House before the attacks. In February, 2001, the C.I.A.’s director, George Tenet, called Al Qaeda “the most immediate and serious threat” to the country. . . .
Thiessen presents the C.I.A. interrogation program as an unqualified success. “In the decade before the C.I.A. began interrogating captured terrorists, Al Qaeda launched repeated attacks against America,” he writes. “In the eight years since the C.I.A. began interrogating captured terrorists, Al Qaeda has not succeeded in launching one single attack on the homeland or American interests abroad.” This is not exactly a textbook demonstration of causality. Moreover, the claim that American interests have been invulnerable since the C.I.A. began waterboarding is manifestly untrue. . . .
Thiessen, citing the classified evidence that he was privileged to see, claims that opponents of brutal interrogations can’t appreciate their efficacy. “The assessment of virtually everyone who examined the classified evidence,” he writes, is that the C.I.A.’s methods were justified. In fact, many independent experts who have top security clearances, and who have had access to the C.I.A.’s records, have denounced the agency’s tactics. . . .
Thiessen does not address the many false confessions given by detainees under torturous pressure, some of which have led the U.S. tragically astray. Nowhere in this book, for instance, does the name Ibn Sheikh al-Libi appear. . . . Libi falsely linked Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s alleged biochemical-weapons program, in Iraq. . . .
Perhaps the most outlandish falsehood in “Courting Disaster” is Thiessen’s portrayal of Obama and the Democrats as the sole opponents of brutal interrogation tactics. . . . Yet Thiessen knows that waterboarding and other human-rights abuses, such as dispatching prisoners into secret indefinite detention, were abandoned by the Bush Administration: he wrote the very speech announcing, in 2006, that the Administration was suspending their use. . . . In fact, the C.I.A.’s descent into torture was ended by an outpouring of opposition from critics inside and outside the Administration—including officials within the C.I.A. . . .
Friday, April 2, 2010
The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, reviewed New McCarthyite Marc Thiessen's new book, Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack, for The New Yorker. And she was not impressed. Here is a sampling of her criticisms:
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What I'm Following
For your further edification and amusement
- Collative Learning: Film Reviews and Analysis by Rob Ager
- DGM Live
- Gospel of Inclusion
- Green Party of the United States
- Mystery Science Theater 3000
- Pandora Radio
- Prog Archives
- Rip Rowan, "Over The Limit"
- Skepticblog: Ten Major Flaws of Evolution: A Refutation
- Slate Magazine
- Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies
- South Park Studios
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Star Trek
- The Baseball Scorecard
- The Onion
- The World's Biggest Pac-Man
- Turn Me Up!