The CIA, Torture, and Gross Incompetence

Jay Leiderman
By: Jay Leiderman
January 31 2015

NPR How The CIA Almost Lost A Key Informant

“Beyond the Senate’s recent revealing report, further details about the CIA’s brutal interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were uncovered recently by Dexter Filkins of The New Yorker.”

This is an NPR interview of Filkins that is well worth the listen. It talks about how the immense pressure put on Mohammed by the CIA almost caused their star detainee to tell nothing but lies simply to get the water boarding to stop. For example:


RATH: And can you talk about some of the false information that came out of the water torture sessions?

FILKINS: It’s pretty clear that, I think by their own admission, that one of the CIA officers misread an intelligence report which I think came from another detainee that had said – and this is in their words, not mine – but it was something like black American Muslims are training in the Al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, and they want to find somebody to help them bomb gas stations in Montana. And he basically said get it out of KSM. Find out who that guy is who they recruited in the United States, and, you know, water board him until he gives us a name. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed basically says, over and over again, I don’t what you’re talking about. It’s pretty clear they water board him so much he finally says, OK, I’ll tell you everything. I want to talk. Please stop water boarding me. And then he makes up this story. It appears to be made up. There’s no other evidence that it was real. I think the conclusion that the Senate investigators reached was that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, despite all the water boarding and all the torture, didn’t provide any information that, say, helped the CIA stop an attack.

RATH: Finally, the actual information that led to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s capture sounds like it almost got lost.

FILKINS: It did almost get lost. They almost never got KSM. The CIA was in touch with – I guess you could call him an agent. They called – they referred to him as Asset X which is, you know, right out of a spy novel. He basically came to them and said, look, I can take you to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. And the CIA basically – I think the agent who was cultivating him made a recommendation back to headquarters saying let’s put this guy in the payroll. He’s great. The answer came back saying no, cut him loose. And they did. They cut him loose. And then I think nine months passed, and finally they found him again. And they almost cut him loose again. And then without any coordination or contact with the CIA, he just goes off and finds Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Pakistan, runs into him, slips off to a bathroom and sends his CIA handler a text message saying I am with KSM. And within hours, the CIA and Pakistani intelligence launched this military operation to grab Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which they did. So yeah, it’s an amazing story. Like, you couldn’t make it up. But they almost missed him.

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[Ventura County, California criminal defense lawyer and State Bar Certified Criminal Law Specialist Jay Leiderman provides defense of all crimes in state and federal courts. He is well-known for handling all drug cases, especially those involving search and seizure and medical marijuana cases, as well as cases involving serious violence, murder and manslaughter, cases involving life sentences, and all computer cases, including those involving the CFAA and oppression leveled against activists and hacktivists. He fights all types of cases involving the digital revolution, civil rights, political dissent, emerging tech issues in the courts, piracy, Search and seizure issues, freedom on the internet, spying, fighting against unjust systems, governmental and prosecutorial overreach, medical marijuana, and overall injustice. Jay fights for the underdog, and delivers a successful defense. Jay is a lifetime member of the NORML Legal Committee. He wrote the first-ever defense of medical marijuana cases book in California. Jay is pro-privacy for the individual and believes in transparency for the state and large corporations. He is also a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), The National Lawyers Guild (NLG), The California Public Defender’s Association (CPDA) and is also a lifetime member of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ). He is admitted to practice in state and federal courts.]

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