Bin Ladin’s Bookshelf

On May 20, 2015, the ODNI released a sizeable tranche of documents recovered during the raid on the compound used to hide Usama bin Ladin. The release, which followed a rigorous interagency review, aligns with the President’s call for increased transparency–consistent with national security prerogatives–and the 2014 Intelligence Authorization Act, which required the ODNI to conduct a review of the documents for release.

The release contains two sections. The first is a list of non-classified, English-language material found in and around the compound. The second is a selection of now-declassified documents.

The Intelligence Community will be reviewing hundreds more documents in the near future for possible declassification and release. An interagency taskforce under the auspices of the White House and with the agreement of the DNI is reviewing all documents which supported disseminated intelligence cables, as well as other relevant material found around the compound. All documents whose publication will not hurt ongoing operations against al-Qa‘ida or their affiliates will be released.

Pointer Now Declassified Material (103 items)

06 Ramadan (Arabic Language Version) *
A Letter to the Sunnah people in Syria (Arabic Language Version)
Afghani Opportunity (Arabic Language Version)
CALL FOR GUIDANCE AND REFORM 13 April 1994 (Arabic Language Version)
Despotism of Big Money (VIDEO: Arabic Language Version)
German Economy (Arabic Language Version)
Gist of conversation Oct 11 (Arabic Language Version) *
Ideas as discussion with the sons of the Peninsula (Arabic Language Version)
Instructions to Applicants (Arabic Language Version)
Jihad and Reform Front 22 May 2007 (Arabic Language Version)
Lessons learned following the fall of the Islamic Emirate (Arabic Language Version)
Letter about revolutions (Arabic Language Version)
Letter Addressed to Atiyah (Arabic Language Version)
Letter addressed to Shaykh (Arabic Language Version)
Letter Ansar Al-Sunnah Group (Arabic Language Version)
Letter dtd 07 August 2010 (Arabic Language Version) *
Letter dtd 09 August 2010 (Arabic Language Version)
Letter dtd 13 Oct 2010 (Arabic Language Version) *
Letter dtd 16 December 2007 (Arabic Language Version)
Letter dtd 18 JUL 2010 (Arabic Language Version) *
Letter dtd 21 May 2007 (Arabic Language Version)
Letter dtd 30 October 2010 (Arabic Language Version)
Letter dtd 5 April 2011 (Arabic Language Version) *
Letter dtd March 2008 (Arabic Language Version)
Letter dtd November 24 2010 (Arabic Language Version) *
Letter from Abu Abdallah to his mother 2 (Arabic Language Version)
Letter from Abu Abdullah to his mother (Arabic Language Version)
Letter from Al-Zawahiri dtd August 2003 (Arabic Language Version)
Letter from Hafiz (Arabic Language Version)
Letter from Hamzah to father dtd July 2009 (Arabic Language Version)
Letter from Khalid to ‘Abd-al-Latif (Arabic Language Version)
Letter from Khalid to Abdullah and Abu al-Harish (Arabic Language Version)
Letter from Khalid to his son (Arabic Language Version)
Letter from Qari, early April (Arabic Language Version)
Letter from UBL to Atiyah (Arabic Language Version) *
Letter from Zamray dtd 07 August 2010 (Arabic Language Version)
Letter Implications of Climate Change (Arabic Language Version)
Letter re Fatwas of the Permanent Committee (Arabic Language Version)
Letter regarding Abu al-Hasan (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to ‘Abd Al-Latif dtd 29 December 2009 (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Abdallah (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to ‘Abd-al-Rahman (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Abu ‘Abdallah al-Hajj (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Abu Sulayman (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Aunt (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Aunt Umm-Khalid (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Badr Khan 3 Dec 2002 (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Brother Fatimah (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Brother from Abu Abdallah (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to brother Hamzah (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Brother Ilyas al- (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to brother Yahya (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to daughter Umm-Mu’adh (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Hakimullah Mahsud, Leader of the Taliban Movement (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Hamza (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Muhammad Aslam dtd 22 April 2011 (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Mujahidin in Somalia dtd 28 December 2006 (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to my beloved Brother (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Shaykh Abu Abdallah dtd 17 July 2010 (Arabic Language Version) *
Letter to Shaykh Abu Abdallah dtd 2 September 2009 (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Shaykh Abu Yahya (Arabic Language Version) *
Letter to Shaykh Abu Yahya 2 (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Shaykh Abu-al-Layth, Shaykh Abu-Yahya, Shaykh ‘Abdallah Sa’id (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Shaykh Azmaray dtd 4 February 2008 (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Shaykh from Abu Abdallah (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Shaykh Mahmud (Arabic Language Version) *
Letter to Shaykh Mahmud 26 September 2010 (Arabic Language Version) *
Letter to Shaykh Mahmud and Shaykh Abu Yahya (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to sister Um-‘Abd-al-Rahman (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to sons ‘Uthman, Muhammad, Hamzah, wife Um Hamzah (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Special Committee of al-Jihad’s Qa’ida of the Mujahidin Affairs in Iraq and to the Ansar al-Sunnah Army (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to the American people (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to UBL from daughter Khadijah (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Um ‘Abd-al-Rahman dtd 26 April 2011 (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Um Abid al-Rahman (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Um Sa’ad from aunt Um Khalid (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Umm Khalid from Sarah (Arabic Language Version)
Letter to Uthman (Arabic Language Version) *
Letter to wife (VIDEO: Arabic Language Version)
Message for all Muslims following US State of Union Address (Arabic Language Version)
Message for general Islamic nation (Arabic Language Version)
Message for Islamic Ummah in general (Arabic Language Version)
Message from Abu Hammam al-Ghurayb (Arabic Language Version)
Message to Muslim brothers in Iraq and to the Islamic nation (Arabic Language Version)
Report on External Operations (Arabic Language Version) *
Request for Documents from CTC (Arabic Language Version)
Spreadsheet (Arabic Language Version)
Study Paper about the Kampala Raid in Uganda (Arabic Language Version)
Suggestion to end the Yemen Revolution (Arabic Language Version)
Summary on situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Arabic Language Version)
Terror Franchise (No Arabic Version) *
Undated letter (Arabic Language Version)
Undated letter 2 (Arabic Language Version)
Undated Letter 3 (Arabic Language Version)
Undated letter from Khalid Habib (Arabic Language Version)
Undated letter re Afghanistan (Arabic Language Version)
Undated message re Egypt demonstrations (Arabic Language Version)
Undated statement (Arabic Language Version)
Undated statement 2 (Arabic Language Version)
Undated statement re American conversions to Islam (Arabic Language Version)
Verbally released document for the Naseer trial (Arabic Language Version) *
VIDEO: Capture of handwritten note
Zamrai (UBL) letter to Unis (Arabic Language Version) *
* Previously declassified for federal prosecutions.

| HIDE SECTION |

Pointer Publicly Available U.S. Government Documents (75 items)

Pointer English Language Books (39 items)

Pointer Material Published by Violent Extremists & Terror Groups (35 items)

Pointer Materials Regarding France (19 items)

Pointer Media Articles (33 items)

Pointer Other Religious Documents (11 items)

Pointer Think Tank & Other Studies (40 items)

Pointer Software & Technical Manuals (30 items)

Pointer Other Miscellaneous Documents (14 items)

Pointer Documents Probably Used by Other Compound Residents (10 items)

This list contains U.S. person information that is being released in accordance with the Fiscal Year 2014 Intelligence Authorization Act (section 309) requirement that the Director of National Intelligence conduct a declassification review of certain items collected during the mission that killed Usama bin Ladin on May 1, 2011, and make publicly available any information declassified as a result of such review.

All publications are unclassified and available commercially or in the public domain.

The U.S. Intelligence Community does not endorse any of the publications on this list.

Find this story at May 2015

Bin Laden Turned in by Informant — Courier Was Cover Story (2011)

Forget the cover story of waterboarding-leads-to-courier-leads-to bin Laden (not to deny the effectiveness of waterboarding, but it’s just not applicable in this case.) Sources in the intelligence community tell me that after years of trying and one bureaucratically insane near-miss in Yemen, the US government killed OBL because a Pakistani intelligence officer came forward to collect the approximately $25 million reward from the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program.

The informant was a walk-in.

The ISI officer came forward to claim the substantial reward and to broker US citizenship for his family. My sources tell me that the informant claimed that the Saudis were paying off the Pakistani military and intelligence (ISI) to essentially shelter and keep bin Laden under house arrest in Abbottabad, a city with such a high concentration of military that I’m told there’s no equivalent in the US.

The CIA and friends then set about proving that OBL was indeed there. And they did.

Next they approached the chiefs of the Pakistani military and the ISI. The US was going to come in with or without them. The CIA offered them a deal they couldn’t refuse: they would double what the Saudis were paying them to keep bin Laden if they cooperated with the US. Or they could refuse the deal and live with the consequences: the Saudis would stop paying and there would be the international embarassment…

The ISI and Pakistani military were cooperating with the US on the raid.

The cooperation was why there were no troops in Abottabad. They were all pulled out. It had always seemed very far-fetched to me that a helicopter could crash and later destroyed in an area with such high military concentration without the Pakistanis noticing. But then it seemed even wilder to believe that a US Navy SEAL (DEVGRU) actually shot a woman who rushed them in the leg. Yeah, right. I know these guys. They only way they’ll shoot a woman in the leg is if they are double tapping a head or chest and that leg got in the way.

DEVGRU shoots to kill.

The cover story was going to be a drone strike in Pakistan. Things went south when the helicopter crashed. The White House freaked and the cooperating Pakistanis were thrown under the bus.

Splat.

Obama Shaka

Although the White House really pissed off the intel and DEVGRU guys with their knee-jerk reaction that tossed the Pakistanis under the proverbial bus, ironically it did have the same outcome as the original CIA cover story: the way they were treated, no one believes Generals Kiyani and Pasha were cooperating with the US.

Big shaka for that, Barry!

August 07, 2011

by R J Hillhouse

Find this story at 7 August 2011

© Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008 by R J Hillhouse

Why Seymour Hersh’s story on Osama bin Laden’s death rings true (2015)

Adnan Khan explains why Hersh’s controversial story about the al Qaeda leader’s killing could be true—and demands our attention

This week, Seymour Hersh, America’s most famous and controversial investigative journalist, caused an uproar with his allegations that the U.S. government account of the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan was a lie. According to his version of events, published in the London Review of Books, bin Laden was not only living under the protection of the Pakistani military but the raid that nabbed him was planned and executed with Pakistani consent.

Critics, White House officials in particular, have strongly condemned the allegations, accusing Hersh of conspiratorial excess. Hersh relies on anonymous sources and unnamed insiders, they say, and builds a narrative of events that are impossible to verify. Nonetheless, based on my own experiences reporting in Pakistan, his story does ring true.

And here’s why:

In November 2009, one and half years before the Navy SEAL operation that killed him, I was told by a Pakistani militant that Osama bin Laden was in a safehouse in Abbottabad, a garrison city 100 km north of the Pakistani capital Islamabad. The militant, a former member of the Lashkar e Taiba (LeT), one of Pakistan’s most powerful jihadi groups with close ties to the Pakistani military, was absolutely certain.

“Osama bin Laden is here,” he told me while we were driving through the town on our way to the capital. “The ISI are protecting him. The senior LeT commanders are close with the ISI. They all know he’s here.”

I didn’t believe him. Abbottabad is one of Pakistan’s most important military cities, home to the Pakistan Military Academy, the equivalent of West Point. Much of its population is made up of retired military officers.

But nine months later, according to Hersh’s account, a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer would walk into the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and tell the CIA station chief more or less the same thing: Osama bin Laden was in Abbottabad.

I’ve kept that bit of information to myself these past few years. Even while I was back in Abbottabad covering the killing of bin Laden in May 2011, I said nothing about it, partly because by then my source, the former LeT fighter, had disappeared.

So why am I revealing this now?

I think it’s important, after Seymour Hersh’s revelations, to revisit what happened in the lead-up to an event that possibly changed the course of history.

At the time, the event certainly felt like theatre. There was a great deal of circumstantial evidence that clashed with the official narrative being put forth. The Pakistani military denied they had any knowledge of bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad; the Americans denied they had carried out the raid with Pakistani consent. According to President Barack Obama’s version of events, detailed in a press conference hours after the operation, this was a monumental act of derring-do, carried out by the world’s premier military using elite soldiers and top-secret technology. It was a Hollywood script (and would later become one, the 2013 Academy Award-nominated Zero Dark Thirty) complete with easily identifiable heroes and villains. None of it sat very well with me.

This is what I knew: a mid-level militant from a group with known ties to Pakistan’s intelligence services knew bin Laden was in Abbottabad. If he knew, it’s fair to say the Pakistani military knew. Locals I spoke to in the neighbourhood of the compound where bin Laden was staying all told me it was an ISI facility. The white Potohar jeeps they saw almost daily were a dead giveaway: “The ISI bought thousands of those cars in the late 1990s for its officers,” an ISI insider told me at the time. “It’s a running joke in Pakistan: if you see a white Potohar in your rearview mirror, be careful, the ISI is on your tail.”

Other ISI contacts were dumbfounded: how could a U.S. Navy Seal team manage to fly into one of the most heavily guarded garrison cities in Pakistan, carry out an assault lasting nearly an hour—in a quiet residential neighbourhood two kilometres from an elite military college—and then fly out without any response from the Pakistani military?

Someone had to have known, I was told repeatedly, and that someone had to be at the highest level of the military command. The U.S. had to have had Pakistani blessing for the operation.

What Hersh provides is more detail. More importantly, he offers us the opportunity to question the widening gap between what our leaders are doing and what they tell us they are doing. According to his view, we are living through an era of scripted events, engineered realities designed to achieve political goals. If his view is true – and there is mounting evidence that it is – then it deserves our attention.

Adnan R. Khan
May 15, 2015

Find this story at 15 May 2015

© 2001-2015 Rogers Media.

Osama bin Laden ‘protected by Pakistan in return for Saudi cash’ (2011)

Osama bin Laden was protected by elements of Pakistan’s security apparatus in return for millions of dollars of Saudi cash, according to a controversial new account of the operation to kill the world’s most wanted man.

Raelynn Hillhouse, an American security analyst, claims his whereabouts were finally revealed when a Pakistani intelligence officer came forward to claim the $25m (£15 million) bounty on the al-Qaeda leader’s head.
Her version, based on evidence from sources in what she calls the “intelligence community”, contradicts the official account that bin Laden was tracked down through his trusted courier.
Pakistani officials have always denied that bin Laden was sheltered or that Islamabad had any knowledge of the secret mission that killed him.
But Dr Hillhouse, who is known for her links to private military contractors that work extensively with the CIA, says Pakistan gave permission for a covert mission which would then be covered up by claiming bin Laden had been killed in a drone strike.
“The [Inter-Services Intelligence] officer came forward to claim the substantial reward and to broker US citizenship for his family,” she writes on her intelligence blog, The Spy Who Billed Me.
Related Articles
Pakistan: 20 militants killed in drone strike 10 Aug 2011
Osama bin Laden raid: top 10 discoveries 24 Jun 2011
“My sources tell me that the informant claimed that the Saudis were paying off the Pakistani military and intelligence (ISI) to essentially shelter and keep bin Laden under house arrest in Abbottabad, a city with such a high concentration of military that I’m told there’s no equivalent in the US.” After confirming bin Laden’s presence in the military town, the US approached Pakistan’s military leaders securing their co-operation in return for cash and a chance to avoid public humiliation.
The theory, if true, would explain how American black hawk helicopters were then able to fly deep into Pakistan territory in May without encountering resistance.
The plan only unravelled when one of the helicopters crash-landed, blowing the cover story.
“The co-operation was why there were no troops in Abottabad,” writes Dr Hillhouse. “It had always seemed very far-fetched to me that a helicopter could crash and later be destroyed in an area with such high military concentration without the Pakistanis noticing.” In the immediate aftermath of the raid, some residents of Abbottabad, where bin Laden had lived for five years, said they had received mysterious visits a night earlier warning them to stay inside with their lights off.
However, a senior Pakistani security official denied that the ISI had sheltered bin Laden.
“We don’t use toilet paper – we wash,” he said. “But toilet paper is all this theory is good for.”
A spokesman for the US department of defense said: “We have no additional operational details, or comments on operational details, to make at this time.”

Rob Crilly By Rob Crilly, Islamabad12:35PM BST 10 Aug 2011

Find this story at 10 August 2011

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2015

Questions Raised by Real Story of How US Found Bin Laden (2011)

The real story of how the US found bin Laden raises some key questions, namely:

August 11, 2011

by R J Hillhouse

Find this story at 11 August 2011

© Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008 by R J Hillhouse

Pakistan ‘paid’ to protect bin Laden (2011)

OSAMA bin Laden was protected by elements of Pakistan’s security apparatus in return for millions of dollars of Saudi cash, according to an account of the operation to kill the world’s most wanted man.

Raelynn Hillhouse, an American security analyst, claimed that bin Laden’s whereabouts were revealed when a Pakistani intelligence officer came forward to claim the long-standing $US25 million ($A24.2 million) bounty on the al-Qaeda leader’s head.

Her version, based on information from ”intelligence community” sources, contradicts the official account that bin Laden was tracked down through surveillance of his courier.

Pakistani officials have always denied that bin Laden was sheltered in the country, or that Islamabad had any prior knowledge of the secret mission in which he was killed. ”The [Inter-Services Intelligence] officer came forward to claim the substantial reward and to broker US citizenship for his family,” she writes on her intelligence blog, The Spy Who Billed Me.

”My sources tell me that the informant claimed that the Saudis were paying off the Pakistani military and intelligence to essentially shelter and keep bin Laden under house arrest in Abbottabad.”

August 12, 2011

Find this story at 12 August 2011

Copyright © 2015 Fairfax Media

BND soll CIA angeblich Hinweis auf Bin­Laden­Versteckgegeben haben ­

Mitten in der BND­Affäre verbreitet sich diese Nachricht: Der Bundesnachrichtendienst soll
den Amerikanern einen entscheidenden Hinweis gegeben haben, der zur Ergreifung von
Osama Bin Laden führte. Ist das plausibel?
Hat der deutsche Geheimdienst BND den Amerikanern bei der Ergreifung von Osama Bin Laden
entscheidend geholfen? Das berichtet die “Bild am Sonntag” (BamS) unter Berufung auf USGeheimdienstkreise.
Demnach soll ein Agent des Bundesnachrichtendienstes angeblich den
Hinweis auf das Versteck des Terroristen in Pakistan gegeben haben.
Die Nachricht kommt zu einer Zeit, in der der BND erheblich in der Kritik steht: Der Dienst hat der
amerikanischen NSA beim massenhaften Ausspionieren von Zielen in Deutschland und Europa
geholfen, der Verdacht der Wirtschaftsspionage steht im Raum. Ausgerechnet jetzt verbreitet sich
die Nachricht von der angeblichen Heldentat des BND im Fall Bin Laden. Kann man das glauben?
Laut “BamS” gibt es einen Insider in US­Geheimdienstkreisen, der die “grundsätzliche Bedeutung”
des Bin­Laden­Hinweises der deutschen Kollegen betone und die Zusammenarbeit der Deutschen
und Amerikaner in dem Fall lobe. “Es gibt eine Menge zu kritisieren an der Zusammenarbeit
zwischen deutschen und US­Geheimdiensten”, schreibt die Zeitung in ihrer Online­Ausgabe. “Aber
es gab durchaus auch Erfolge im Kampf gegen den Terror.”
Bemerkenswert: Bislang war nie etwas von einer entscheidenden deutschen Rolle bei der
Ergreifung Bin Ladens bekannt geworden. Im Gegenteil: Experten halten den BND in Pakistan für
relativ ahnungslos, Erkenntnisse hat der Dienst dort fast nur über deutsche Dschihadisten.
Hinweis von pakistanisch­deutschem Doppelagenten?
Die offizielle Version der US­Regierung zur Tötung des Qaida­Chefs in der Nacht auf den 2. Mai
2011 besagt, dass ein Team von US­Navy­Seals per Hubschrauber von Afghanistan im Tiefflug
nach Abbottabad eilte, einer Bergstadt etwa 60 Kilometer nördlich der Hauptstadt Islamabad.
Dort seilten sich Soldaten ab und fanden Bin Laden in einer hoch ummauerten Villa.
Sie töteten den Terrorfürsten, nahmen den Leichnam mit und bestatteten den meistgesuchten
Mann der Welt noch am selben Tag von einem Flugzeugträger aus im Arabischen Meer. Die
pakistanische Regierung wurde ­ so die offizielle Version ­ über den Einsatz erst informiert, als die
Helikopter schon in pakistanischen Luftraum eingedrungen waren.
Den Hinweis auf das Versteck haben die Amerikaner nach eigenen Angaben von Bin Ladens Kurier
al­Kuwaiti bekommen. Die “BamS” hingegen berichtet nun: Der Hinweis zu Bin Ladens
Aufenthaltsort sei damals von einem Agenten des pakistanischen Geheimdienstes Inter­Services
Intelligence gekommen ­ und dieser Agent habe seit Jahren auch für den BND gearbeitet. Die
Information des Doppelagenten soll dann an die USA weitergeleitet worden sein und habe einen
­ ohnehin bereits bestehenden ­ Verdacht der CIA erhärtet.
Bleibt die Frage: Warum hat der Doppelagent nicht direkt die Amerikaner informiert? In diesem
Fall hätte er eine dicke Belohnung einstreichen können. Warum also sollte die Information erst an
den ­ eher trägen, nicht übermäßig zahlungswilligen ­ BND gegangen sein?
Zweifel an der offiziellen Version im Fall Bin Laden gibt es immer wieder. Erst in der vergangenen
Woche hatte Pulitzer­Preisträger Seymour M. Hersh die Darstellung des Weißen Hauses kritisiert ­
und eine eigene Theorie vorgelegt. In der “London Review of Books” schreibt Hersh, US­Präsident
Barack Obama habe gelogen. Washington habe Islamabad viel früher in die geplante Aktion
eingeweiht. Beweise legte er für seine Theorie nicht vor.

brk/kaz/wal

16. Mai 2015, 23:52 Uhr

Find this story at 16 May 2015

© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2015

BND half bei der Jagd auf Osama bin Laden BamS erklärt die Operation „Neptune’s Spear“

Es gibt eine Menge zu kritisieren an der Zusammenarbeit zwischen deutschen und US-Geheimdiensten. Aber es gab durchaus auch Erfolge im Kampf gegen den Terror…
Seit Wochen steht der Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) unter Beschuss, weil er an illegalen Abhöraktionen der Amerikaner beteiligt gewesen sein soll. Es geht um den Verdacht der Wirtschaftsspionage.
Den Geheimdiensten beider Länder kommt wohl nicht ungelegen, dass ausgerechnet jetzt ihre Zusammenarbeit bei einer der spektakulärsten Anti-Terror-Operationen bekannt wird – der Jagd auf Osama bin Laden!
Nach BamS-Informationen leistete der BND wichtige Hilfe bei der Suche nach dem damals meist­- gesuchten Terroristen der Welt. US-Geheimdienstkreise betonen, die Hinweise der Deutschen hätten für die Operation eine „grundsätzliche Bedeutung“ gehabt.
Bin Laden (Codename: Geronimo), Gründer und Anführer des Terrornetzwerks al-Qaida, war am 2. Mai 2011 von einer US-Spezialeinheit getötet worden – fast zehn Jahre nach den Anschlägen vom 11. September in Amerika, die er befohlen hatte.
VergrößernOsama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden wurde am 2. Mai 2011 von US-Spezialeinheiten in Abbottabad (Pakistan) erschossen. Der BND gab wichtige Hinweise
Foto: dpa Picture-Alliance
Jahrelang jagte Amerika den Terrorfürsten vergeblich, bin Laden schien vom Erdboden verschluckt. Bis der BND den US-Geheimdienst CIA darüber informierte, dass sich Osama bin Laden mit Wissen pakistanischer Sicherheitsbehörden in Pakistan versteckt. Der Hinweis kam von einem Agenten des pakistanischen Geheimdienstes Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), der seit Jahren für den BND arbeitete.
Jetzt wussten die Amerikaner, wo sie suchen mussten. Der Tipp des BND hatte einen Verdacht der CIA erhärtet, dem der Geheimdienst nun mit größtem technischen und personellen Aufwand nachging. Denn seit 2007 waren die US-Geheimdienstler der Spur eines Bin-Laden-Kuriers gefolgt, der unter dem Decknamen al-Kuwaiti („Der Kuwaiter“) von Pakistan aus operierte.
Im August 2010 führte der Mann, den die Amerikaner überwachten, die Fahnder schließlich zu bin Ladens Versteck: einem stark befestigten Anwesen im nordpakistanischen Städtchen Abbottabad – knapp einen Kilometer entfernt von einer pakistanischen Militärakademie.
VergrößernLogo vom Bundesnachrichtendienst BND
Das Logo des Bundesnachrichtendienstes
Weitere sieben Monate sammelte die CIA Informationen. Dann stand fest: Bin Laden lebt in dem dreistöckigen Gebäudekomplex. Unter größter Geheimhaltung begannen die Vorbereitungen für die Militäroperation „Neptune’s Spear“ (Neptuns Dreizack), bei der Osama bin Laden getötet wurde.
Auch in dieser Phase gab der BND den Amerikanern wichtige Unterstützung. Deren größte Sorge war, dass Osama bin Laden oder die pakistanischen Sicherheitsbehörden von den Vorbereitungen der Geheimoperation etwas mitbekommen könnten. Dann hätte die Aktion wohl abgeblasen werden müssen.
Deshalb überwachte die Abhörstation im bayerischen Bad Aibling rund um die Uhr den Telefon- und Mailverkehr in Nordpakistan. Dadurch konnten die Amerikaner sicher sein, dass „Neptune’s Spear“ nicht aufgeflogen war. In der Nacht zum 2. Mai 2011 starteten dann vier Hubschrauber mit Elitekämpfern der „Navy Seals Team 6“ Richtung Abbottabad.

16.05.2015 – 22:21 Uhr
BILD am Sonntag
Von KAYHAN ÖZGENC, ALEXANDER RACKOW, JAN C. WEHMEYER UND OLAF WILKE

Find this story at 16 May 2015

Copyright www.bild.de

The Misfire in Hersh’s Big Bin Laden Story

Seymour Hersh’s story on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden has exposed a series of Obama administration claims about the raid, including the lie that it was not intended from the first to kill bin Laden and its fanciful story about Islamic burial of his body at sea. Hersh confirms the fact that the Obama administration – and the CIA – were not truthful in claiming that they learned about bin Laden’s whereabouts from a combination of enhanced interrogation techniques and signals intelligence interception of a phone conversation by bin Laden’s courier.

But Hersh’s account of a Pakistani “walk-in,” who tipped off the CIA about bin Laden’s location in Abbottabad, corrects one official deception about how the CIA discovered bin Laden’s location, only to give credence to a new one.

Hersh’s account accepts his source’s claim that Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI had captured bin Laden in 2006 by buying off some of his tribal allies and that ISI had moved him to the Abbottabad compound under a kind of house arrest. But there are good reasons for doubting the veracity of that claim. Retired Pakistani Brigadier General Shaukat Qadir, who spent months investigating the bin Laden raid and the bin Ladens’ relocation to Abbottabad, interviewed a number of people in the neighborhood of the bin Laden compound and found no evidence whatever of any ISI presence in guarding or maintaining surveillance of the compound, such as described by Hersh’s source.

This writer published a detailed account of the background of bin Laden’s move to Abbottabad at Truthout in May 2012, based on months of painstaking research by Qadir, which showed that it was the result of a political decision by the al-Qaeda shura itself.

Qadir, who has never had any affiliation with ISI, was able to contact Mehsud tribal sources he had known from his service in South Waziristan many years earlier who introduced him to Mehsud tribal couriers for a leading tribal militant allied with al-Qaeda before and after 9/11. He was able to explain why a key al-Qaeda official in charge of relocating bin Laden actually considered Abbottabad, a military cantonment where the Pakistani military academy is located, a better hiding place than a city closer to the northwest Pakistan base area of al-Qaeda.

Qadir also learned that the secrecy of bin Laden’s new location was based on the fact that no one outside the al-Qaeda inner circle knew the real identity of bin Laden’s courier, who ordered the construction of the compound in 2004. That whole history, which Qadir was able to reconstruct in painstaking detail, belies the story that Hersh’s source, the “retired senior intelligence official,” told him about bin Laden being held captive by ISI in Abottabad.

The story has provoked pushback from the deputy director of the CIA at the time, as well as from Qadir. Michael Morell, the former deputy director, has called the story “completely false” and added, “No walk-in ever provided any information that was significant in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.”

Qadir had picked up the walk-in story – complete with the detail that the Pakistani in question was a retired ISI officer who had been resettled from Pakistan – from American contacts in 2011. In his own book, Operation Geronimo, Qadir comments, “There is no way a Pakistani Brigadier, albeit retired, could receive this kind of money and disappear …”

Qadir also learned from interviewing ISI officials that, by mid-2010, they had become suspicious about the owner of the Abbottabad compound, of a possible terrorism connection, as a result of what began as a routine investigation, although they did not know that bin Laden was there. Five different junior and mid-level ISI officers told Qadir they understood Pakistan’s Counter Terrorism Wing (CTW) had decided to forward a request to the CIA for surveillance of the Abbottabad compound in July 2010.

So CTW’s provision of that crucial information to the CIA would have occurred just about the time Hersh’s source says the walk-in took place.

Hersh’s account of the walk-in, offering to tell the CIA where bin Laden was in return for the $25 million reward, is problematic for other reasons. If the walk-in source had been able to provide a reasonably detailed explanation for how he knew bin Laden, was in that compound and had passed a polygraph test, as the source claims, President Obama would certainly have been informed.

But the former senior intelligence official told Hersh that Obama was not informed about the information from the walk-in until October 2010 – two months after the CIA allegedly had gotten the information from the walk-in.

Furthermore both Obama and the “senior intelligence official” who briefed the press on the issue on May 2, 2011, made statements that clearly suggested the information that had helped them was much more indirect than a tip that bin Laden was there. And both indicated that it was a result of Pakistani government cooperation.

The senior intelligence official told reporters that “The Pakistanis … provided us information attached to [the compound] to help us complete the robust intelligence case that … eventually carried the day.” That is very different from telling the CIA that bin Laden had been taken captive by the ISI and deposited in Abbottabad.

And Obama was explicit about the information coming through Pakistani institutional channels in his remarks on the night of the raid. “It is important here to note,” Obama said, “that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound he was hiding in.”

No plausible reason can be offered for those remarks, except that ISI’s counter-terrorism wing (CTW) actually did provide specific information related to the Abbottabad compound that led the CIA to begin intensive satellite surveillance of the compound.

Finally the story of the “walk-in” and the $25 million reward going to the individual is a story line that serves the interests of some high-ranking CIA officials – including then-CIA Director Leon Panetta – who had come to view ISI as the enemy because of a cluster of conflicts that involved suspicions about its protecting bin Laden, as well as ISI restrictions on CIA spying in Pakistan; the detention of CIA contractor Raymond Davis for shooting two Pakistanis; and finally, ISI complaints about US drone strikes. The CIA had increased its unilateral intelligence presence in Pakistan tremendously in 2010-11, and ISI demanded that the increase be rolled back.

In January 2011, CIA operative Raymond Davis had been arrested for killing two Pakistanis who had apparently been tailing him, and the CIA had put intense pressure on the ISI to have him released. Then on March 17, one day after Davis had been released thanks to the intervention of ISI chief Shuja Pasha, the CIA had carried out a drone strike on what was supposedly a gathering of Haqqani network officials, but it actually killed dozens of tribal and sub-tribal elders who had gathered from all over North Waziristan to discuss an economic issue. A former US official later suggested that the strike, which had been opposed by then-Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, had been carried out then because the CIA had been “angry” over the detention of Davis for several weeks.

The Pakistani military had been angered, in turn, by the March 17 drone strike, and Pasha had then gone to Washington in April 2011 with a demand for a Pakistani veto over US drone strikes in the country.

That summer, as tensions with the Pakistani military continued to simmer, someone began talking privately about ISI’s complicity in bin Laden’s presence in Abbotabad. The story was first published on the blog of R. J. Hillhouse on August 8, 2011, which cited “sources in the intelligence community.”

Monday, 18 May 2015 00:00
By Gareth Porter, Truthout | News Analysis

Find this story at 18 May 2015

Copyright, Truthout.

Brig Usman Khalid informed CIA of Osama’s presence in Abbottabad

ISLAMABAD: Pulitzer prize winning American journalist Seymour Hersh’s most recent claim that a former Pakistani intelligence official had actually informed the Americans about the Abbottabad hideout of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden (OBL), has given credence to the notion that a former ISI official provided the information about Osama’s location in exchange of US$ 25 million bounty as well as the US citizenship with a new identity.

Well-informed intelligence circles in the garrison town of Rawalpindi concede that the vital information about the bin Laden compound was actually provided to the Americans by none other than an ISI official – Brigadier Usman Khalid. The retired Brigadier, who has already been granted American citizenship along with his entire family members, persuaded Dr Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani physician, to conduct a fake polio campaign in the Bilal Town area of Abbottabad to help the Central Intelligence Agency hunt down Osama.

A February 18, 2012 Washington Post article by David Ignatius said

“Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani was ISI chief at the time, but the dominant figure was President Pervez Musharraf”. Ignatius referred to former ISI chief General Ziauddin Butt and noted that a report in the Pakistani press in December had quoted him as saying that Osama’s stay at Abbottabad was arranged by Brigadier (R) Ijaz Shah on Musharraf’s orders. General Ziauddin Butt repeated his claim in the February 2012 issue of the Newsweek magazine, in an online interview conducted by Bruce Riedel. Riedel quoted Lt Gen Butt as saying: “General Musharraf knew that Osama bin Laden was in Abbottabad.” Ziauddin Butt claimed that Ijaz Shah was responsible for setting up bin Laden in Abbottabad, ensuring his safety and keeping him hidden from the outside. On the other hand, Musharraf has refuted having any knowledge about Osama living in Pakistan during his tenure.

It may be recalled that the New York Times had claimed in a March 2014 report that the US had direct evidence about former ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha knowing Bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad at the time. The newspaper also quoted former ISI chief Lt Gen Ziauddun Butt, saying Musharraf had arranged to hide Bin Laden in Abbottabad. While the military circles had strongly refuted the NYT report as a pack of lies, it was hard for the international community to believe that the world’s most wanted terrorist was living unnoticed for five years in a vast compound in Abbottabad without any support system.

Amir Mir
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Find this story at 12 May 2015

The News International – Copyright @ 2010-2015

The Detail in Seymour Hersh’s Bin Laden Story That Rings True

From the moment it was announced to the public, the tale of how Osama bin Laden met his death in a Pakistani hill town in May 2011 has been a changeable feast. In the immediate aftermath of the Navy SEAL team’s assault on his Abbottabad compound, American and Pakistani government accounts contradicted themselves and each other. In his speech announcing the operation’s success, President Obama said that “our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to Bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding.”

But others, including top Pakistani generals, insisted that this was not the case. American officials at first said Bin Laden resisted the SEALs; the Pakistanis promptly leaked that he wasn’t armed. Then came differing stories from the SEALs who carried out the raid, followed by a widening stream of new details from government reports — including the 336-page Abbottabad Commission report requested by the Pakistani Parliament — and from books and interviews. All of the accounts were incomplete in some way.

The latest contribution is the journalist Seymour Hersh’s 10,000-word article in The London Review of Books, which attempts to punch yet more holes — very big ones — in both the Obama administration’s narrative and the Pakistani government’s narrative. Among other things, Hersh contends that the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, Pakistan’s military-intelligence agency, held Bin Laden prisoner in the Abbottabad compound since 2006, and that “the C.I.A. did not learn of Bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the U.S.”

On this count, my own reporting tracks with Hersh’s. Beginning in 2001, I spent nearly 12 years covering Pakistan and Afghanistan for The Times. (In his article, Hersh cites an article I wrote for The Times Magazine last year, an excerpt from a book drawn from this reporting.) The story of the Pakistani informer was circulating in the rumor mill within days of the Abbottabad raid, but at the time, no one could or would corroborate the claim. Such is the difficulty of reporting on covert operations and intelligence matters; there are no official documents to draw on, few officials who will talk and few ways to check the details they give you when they do.

Two years later, when I was researching my book, I learned from a high-level member of the Pakistani intelligence service that the ISI had been hiding Bin Laden and ran a desk specifically to handle him as an intelligence asset. After the book came out, I learned more: that it was indeed a Pakistani Army brigadier — all the senior officers of the ISI are in the military — who told the C.I.A. where Bin Laden was hiding, and that Bin Laden was living there with the knowledge and protection of the ISI.

I trusted my source — I did not speak with him, and his information came to me through a friend, but he was high enough in the intelligence apparatus to know what he was talking about. I was confident the information was true, but I held off publishing it. It was going to be extremely difficult to corroborate in the United States, not least because the informant was presumably in witness protection.

I do not recall ever corresponding with Hersh, but he is following up on a story that many of us assembled parts of. The former C.I.A. officer Larry Johnson aired the theory of the informant — credited to “friends who are still active” — on his blog within days of the raid. And Hersh appears to have succeeded in getting both American and Pakistani sources to corroborate it. His sources remain anonymous, but other outlets such as NBC News have since come forward with similar accounts. Finally, the Pakistani daily newspaper The News reported Tuesday that Pakistani intelligence officials have conceded that it was indeed a walk-in who provided the information on Bin Laden. The newspaper names the officer as Brigadier Usman Khalid; the reporter is sufficiently well connected that he should be taken seriously.

This development is hugely important —it is the strongest indication to date that the Pakistani military knew of Bin Laden’s whereabouts and that it was complicit in hiding a man charged with international terrorism and on the United Nations sanctions list.

I cannot confirm Hersh’s bolder claims — for example, that two of Pakistan’s top generals, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the former army chief, and Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the director of the ISI, had advance knowledge of the raid. But I would not necessarily dismiss the claims immediately. Hersh’s scenario explains one detail that has always nagged me about the night of Bin Laden’s death.

After one of the SEALs’ Black Hawk helicopters crashed in Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound, neighbors called the police and reported hearing both the crash and the subsequent explosions. The local police told me that they received the calls and could have been at the compound within minutes, but army commanders ordered them to stand down and leave the response to the military. Yet despite being barracked nearby, members of the Pakistani Army appear to have arrived only after the SEALs — who spent 40 minutes on the ground without encountering any soldiers — left.

Hersh’s claim that there was little or no treasure trove of evidence retrieved from Bin Laden’s home rings less true to me. But he has raised the need for more openness from the Obama administration about what was found there.

Carlotta Gall is the North Africa correspondent for The New York Times and the author of “The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan 2001-2004.”

By CARLOTTA GALLMAY 12, 2015

Find this story at 12 May 2015

© 2015 The New York Times Company

Pakistani Asset Helped in Hunt for Bin Laden, Sources Say

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated since it was first published. The original version of this story said that a Pakistani asset told the U.S. where bin Laden was hiding. Sources say that while the asset provided information vital to the hunt for bin Laden, he was not the source of his whereabouts.

Intelligence sources tell NBC News that in the year before the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, a retired Pakistani military intelligence officer helped the CIA track him down.

While the Pakistani intelligence asset provided vital information in the hunt for bin Laden, he did not provide the location of the al Qaeda leader’s Abottabad, Pakistan compound, sources said.

Three sources also said that some officials in the Pakistani government knew where bin Laden was hiding all along.

The asset was evacuated from Pakistan and paid reward money by the CIA, sources said. U.S. officials took pains to note he was one of many sources who provided help along the way, and said that the al Qaeda courier who unwittingly led them to bin Laden, Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, remained the linchpin of the operation.

The U.S. government has always characterized the heroic raid by Seal Team Six that killed bin Laden as a unilateral U.S. operation, and has maintained that the CIA found him by tracking the courier.

The new revelations do not cast doubt on the overall narrative that the White House began circulating within hours of the May 2011 operation. The official story about how bin Laden was found was constructed in a way that protected the identity and existence of the asset, who also knew who inside the Pakistani government was aware of the Pakistani intelligence agency’s operation to hide bin Laden, according to a special operations officer with prior knowledge of the bin Laden mission.

While NBC News has long been pursuing leads about a “walk in” intelligence asset and about what Pakistani intelligence knew, both assertions were made public in a London Review of Books article by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. Hersh’s story, published over the weekend, raises numerous questions about the White House account of the SEAL operation. It has been strongly disputed both on and off the record by the Obama administration and current and former national security officials.

The Hersh story says that a “walk in” asset, a former Pakistani military intelligence official, contacted U.S. authorities in 2010 and told them bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad; that elements of ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency, knew of bin Laden’s whereabouts; and that the U.S. told the Pakistanis about the bin Laden raid before it launched. The U.S. has maintained that it did not tell the Pakistani government about the raid before it launched.

On Monday, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren called Hersh’s piece “largely a fabrication” and said there were “too many inaccuracies” to detail each one. Col Warren said the raid to kill bin Laden was a “unilateral action.” Both the National Security Council and the Pentagon denied that Pakistan had played any role in the raid.

Pakistani media personnel and local resi AAMIR QURESHI / AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Pakistani media personnel and local residents gather outside the hideout of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan after the U.S. raid that killed him.
“The notion that the operation that killed Osama Bin Laden was anything but a unilateral U.S. mission is patently false,” said NSC spokesman Ned Price. “As we said at the time, knowledge of this operation was confined to a very small circle of senior U.S. officials.”

Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, dismissed Hersh’s account. “I simply have never heard of anything like this and I’ve been briefed several times,” said McCain, R.-Arizona. “This was a great success on the part of the administration and something that we all admire the president’s decision to do. ”

The NBC News sources who confirm that a former Pakistani military intelligence official became a U.S. intelligence asset include a special operations officer and a CIA officer who had served in Pakistan. These two sources and a third source, a very senior former U.S. intelligence official, also say that elements of the ISI were aware of bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad. The former official was emphatic about the ISI’s awareness, saying twice, “They knew.”

Another top official acknowledged to NBC News that the U.S. government had long harbored “deep suspicions” that ISI and al Qaeda were “cooperating.” And a book by former acting CIA director Mike Morrell that will be published tomorrow says that U.S. officials could not dismiss the possibility of such cooperation.

None of the sources characterized how high up in ISI the knowledge might have gone. Said one former senior official, “We were suspicious that someone inside ISI … knew where bin Laden was, but we did not have intelligence about specific individuals having specific knowledge.”

Multiple U.S. officials, however, denied or cast doubt on the assertion that the U.S. told the Pakistanis about the bin Laden raid ahead of time.

BY MATTHEW COLE, RICHARD ESPOSITO, ROBERT WINDREM AND ANDREA MITCHELL

Find this story at 11 May 2015

Copyright www.nbcnews.com

How Was Bin Laden Killed? Seymour Hersh’s sources tell a more believable story than the self-serving official White House narrative.

Some might argue that knowing exactly how Osama bin Laden was killed really doesn’t matter. Some might even argue that he is still alive, which, if nothing else, would demonstrate the persistence of urban legends relating to conspiracies allegedly involving the U.S. government. JFK’s assassination has the grassy knoll and second gunman, plus Mafia, CIA, and Cuban connections as well as a possible Vietnamese angle. 9/11 had the mystery of the collapse of Building 7. More recently still, the Texas State Guard was mobilized to monitor a military training exercise because it was rumored to be a ploy to impose martial law. Demonizing Washington as one large conspiracy is good business all around.

The death of bin Laden has been memorialized by a CIA-sponsored film “Zero Dark Thirty” and a book by Peter Bergen, by numerous White House leaks and press releases, and by memoranda of participants, including the CIA’s female officer who tracked bin Laden and the Navy SEAL who allegedly fired the fatal shots. The most recent contribution to the oeuvre is an account by the former CIA Deputy Director and torture apologist Michael Morell, The Great War of Our Time: the CIA’s Fight against Terrorism from al-Qai’da to ISIS.

Inevitably, great stories that don’t quite hang together are often revised as memory grows weak and, in the manner of Rashomon, frequently take on the coloration of where the narrator was sitting when events unfolded. And then there are the skeptics, who focus on the inconsistencies and pull together their own explanations. A number of articles and blogs have questioned details of the standard narrative on bin Laden. One compelling account by R.J. Hillhouse in August 2011 challenged central aspects of the prevailing story, and there has been corroborative reporting from highly respected New York Times correspondent Carlotta Gall.

A more recent skeptic about bin Laden is America’s top investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh. In a lengthy article published in the current London Review of Books, Hersh provides a fascinating narrative regarding the killing of bin Laden, which contradicts the account provided by the government. A White House spokesman immediately weighed in to describe Hersh’s account as “baseless,” while Morell has called it “all wrong” and Bergen has dubbed it a “farrago of nonsense.”

Sy Hersh believes the official account, that bin Laden was discovered in Abbottabad after one of his couriers was tracked, is wrong. Instead, he claims, the source of the information was a Pakistani intelligence officer who was paid as much as $25 million. Hersh also claims that the heads of the Pakistani Army and its intelligence service (ISI) knew about the raid in advance and were able to facilitate the U.S. incursion. A Pakistani intelligence officer participated in the operation after a Pakistani army doctor obtained DNA evidence proving the presence of bin Laden, convincing the White House to authorize the attack. The Obama administration, however, claims that the assault was completely unilateral and Pakistan knew nothing about it.

The Hersh account also states that bin Laden had been under house arrest by the Pakistani intelligence service for five years and was unarmed when the U.S. team arrived with instructions from Washington to kill him. His stay in Pakistan was being secretly funded by the Saudi government, which did not want him released. There was no shooting apart from that done by the Navy SEALs. An after-the-fact cover story prepared by the White House and Pakistani officials, that bin Laden had been killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan, was abandoned when Obama, for various reasons, decided to instead go public on the night of the killing, betraying the trust of the Pakistani generals.

The Hersh account and the government response together raise a number of questions which can be examined based on plausibility of the respective accounts and the possible security considerations that might have influenced an official narrative that milked the event for political gain while also protecting sources and methods. Interestingly, NBC News came out with its own report one day after Hersh’s article was published, confirming it from its own sources that a Pakistani official “helped the U.S. find Osama bin Laden, not a courier.” The article, subsequently retracted, also cited a New York Times Magazine report by Carlotta Gall that the Pakistani intelligence service ISI actually had a special desk tasked with hiding bin Laden.

For what it’s worth, I have known Sy Hersh for more than 15 years and have a great deal of respect for him as a journalist. I am aware of how carefully he vets his information, using multiple sourcing for many of his articles, and I also know that he has a network of high-level contacts in key positions scattered throughout the defense, intelligence, and national security communities. For this article he cites three anonymous U.S. special ops and intelligence sources, three named Pakistani sources, and a number of unnamed Pakistanis. I think I know the identities of at least two of his American sources, both of whom are reliable and have access, while one of his other anonymous sources might well be Jonathan Bank, the former CIA station chief in Islamabad. If Sy says that someone revealed something to him either on background or anonymously, I am sure that he accurately conveys what was said, though that does not necessarily rule out the possibility that the source might be intentionally misleading him or somehow be mistaken.

Against that, the government has hardly been a reliable source of accurate information, even regarding this past weekend’s Delta Force raid in Syria in which the Pentagon account and the report of a British monitoring group vary considerably. Some of those who are most aggressively attacking Hersh know nothing about the death of bin Laden except what the White House and its various spokesmen have provided. Several have a vested interest in parroting the official line, to include books they want to sell and white lies they would prefer remain somewhere in the shadows. Nevertheless, the bin Laden killing was a story that benefited the White House politically, making it important to get the details right lest it be discredited from the get-go.

Hersh’s first assertion, that the source of the information was a Pakistani intelligence officer who walked-in with the information is quite plausible and it actually makes more sense than the courier story, which is inconsistent in terms of who, what, when, and where. Walk-ins are mistrusted, but they also provide many breakthroughs in intelligence operations. In this case, the walk-in passed a polygraph examination and provided significant corroborating information. If the man was indeed paid and he wished to keep the connection secret, a cover story would be needed to explain how the U.S. came by the information. That is where the courier story would come in.

The presumed role of the Pakistani intelligence officer leads naturally to the plausible assumption that Pakistan had bin Laden under control as a prisoner. Among retired intelligence officers that I know no one believes that the Pakistanis were unaware of bin Laden’s presence among them though there are varying degrees of disagreement regarding exactly why he was being held and what Islamabad intended to do with him. Some speculate, as Hersh asserts, that the Paks were seeking a mechanism both to get rid of bin Laden and obtain a satisfactory quid pro quo for turning him over to Washington. Per Hersh, they considered bin Laden a “resource” to be cashed in at the right time, which makes sense.

That several senior Pakistani military officers were informed of the impending raid is also not exactly surprising. The billions that Washington has provided to the Pakistani military was largely controlled by the head of the army and the chief of ISI. That did not exactly make them paid agents of the United States, but it certainly would create a compelling self-interest in keeping the relationship functional. They could be relied upon to be discreet and they were certainly well-placed enough to mitigate the risk to incoming American helicopters if called upon to do so.

Hersh notes that due to the delay caused by the crashed helicopter the SEAL team was on the ground for 40 minutes “waiting for the bus” without any police, military, or fire department response to the noise and explosions. The public lighting in that area had also been turned off. And, indeed, the White House could still claim that it was a wholly U.S. operation because the civilian government in Islamabad, out of the loop on what was occurring, could plausibly deny any deal with Washington. Hersh notes that in Obama’s press conference on the killing, the president nevertheless acknowledged that the “counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding,” a statement that may have been true enough but also exposed the assistance that had been received and put at risk the generals who had cooperated.

And then there is the Saudi role. Hersh claims that Riyadh was footing the bill for holding bin Laden because they did not want him to reveal to the Americans what he knew about Saudi funding of al-Qaeda. The Pakistanis for their part wanted bin Laden dead as part of the deal so he would not talk about their holding him for five years without revealing that fact to Washington.

Other claims by Sy Hersh include his debunking of the “garbage bags of computers and storage devices” seized by the team, used to support the contention that bin Laden was still in charge of a vast terrorist network. But there is little evidence to suggest that anything at all was picked up during the raid. Documents turned over by the Pakistanis afterwards were examined but found to be useful mostly for background on al-Qaeda.

Concerning the firefight that may not have occurred, the government account started with a claim that bin Laden was armed and resisted using his wife as a shield, a wild west fantasy concocted by then-White House terrorism chief John Brennan, but it eventually conceded that the terrorist leader was unarmed and alone. In the initial debriefing the SEAL team reportedly did not mention any resistance in the compound. The military participants in the raid were subsequently forced to sign nondisclosure forms threatening civil penalties and a lawsuit for anyone who discussed the operation either publicly or privately.

Finally, what happened to bin Laden’s body? The original plan was to wait a week and announce that bin Laden had been literally blown to bits by drone, but that was preempted by President Obama, who saw an opportunity to score some political points. There is no evidence that bin Laden was buried at sea, as was alleged, no photos, no eyewitness testimony by sailors on board the USS Carl Vinson, and no ship’s log confirming the burial. Two of Hersh’s sources are convinced the burial never took place and that what remained after being torn apart by bullets was instead turned over to the CIA for disposal. They regard the burial at sea as a poorly designed cover story to get rid of the body and avoid any embarrassing questions over possible misidentification.

So what do I think is true? I believe that a walk-in Pakistani intelligence officer provided the information on bin Laden and that the Pakistanis were indeed holding him under house arrest, possibly with the connivance of the Saudis. I am not completely convinced that senior Pakistani generals colluded with the U.S. in the attack, though Hersh makes a carefully nuanced case and Obama’s indiscreet comment is suggestive. I do not believe any material of serious intelligence value was collected from the site and I think accounts of the shootout were exaggerated. The burial at sea does indeed appear to be a quickly contrived cover story. And yes, I do think Osama bin Laden is dead.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

By PHILIP GIRALDI • May 20, 2015

Find this story at 20 May 2015

copyright theamericanconservative.com

WATCH: How the CIA Helped Make “Zero Dark Thirty”

When Zero Dark Thirty premiered in 2012, the Hollywood film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden became a blockbuster hit.

Behind the scenes, the CIA secretly worked with the filmmakers, and the movie portrayed the agency’s controversial “enhanced interrogation techniques” — widely described as torture — as a key to uncovering information that led to the finding and killing of bin Laden.

Secrets, Politics and Torture airs Tuesday, May 19 at 10 p.m. EST on PBS (check local listings) and will stream in full, for free, online at pbs.org/frontline.
But in Secrets, Politics and Torture, premiering this Tuesday, May 19 on PBS, FRONTLINE reveals the many challenges to that narrative, and the inside story of how it came to be.

The documentary unspools the dueling versions of history laid out by the CIA, which maintains that its now officially-shuttered program was effective in combating terrorism, and the massive Senate torture report released in December 2014, which found that the program was brutal, mismanaged and — most importantly — didn’t work.

Watch the dramatic opening sequence of Secrets, Politics and Torture:

And that’s just the beginning.

Drawing on recently declassified documents and interviews with prominent political leaders and CIA insiders, Tuesday’s film goes on to examine how the secret interrogation program began, what it accomplished and the bitter fight in Washington over the public outing of its existence.

“We’ve found that, faced with 9/11 and the fear of a second attack, everybody from the head of the CIA, to the Justice Department, to the president asked ‘Can we do it?’ — meaning, can we do it legally — not, ‘Should we do it?’ says veteran FRONTLINE filmmaker Michael Kirk.

Secrets, Politics and Torture is the latest in Kirk’s acclaimed line of documentaries examining counterterrorism programs and government secrecy in the wake of 9/11: He traveled to the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq to make The Torture Question in 2005, and he just won a Peabody Award for United States of Secrets, FRONTLINE’s 2014 examination of the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program.

“As the debate over how far the U.S. should be willing to go in the fight against terrorism continues, we felt it was important to tell the story of this CIA program, comprehensively, in documentary form,” Kirk says. “What we’ve found raises some very tough questions.”

Watch Secrets, Politics and Torture Tuesday, May 19 at 10 p.m. EST on PBS (check local listings) and online at pbs.org/frontline.

May 15, 2015, 2:45 pm ET by Patrice Taddonio

Find this story at 15 May 2015

Watch secrets, politics and torture

Web Site Copyright ©1995-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation

‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Was Filled With CIA Lies

A new documentary from Frontline doesn’t want to let the CIA off the hook for providing a false narrative to an Oscar-winning blockbuster and presenting it as a true story.
In the days leading up to the nationwide release of Zero Dark Thirty, the 2012 blockbuster movie about the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Senator Dianne Feinstein was given an advanced screening. How did the then-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, whose investigators were working on their own story about the hunt for bin Laden and the role that torture may have played, react to Hollywood’s depiction?

“I walked out of Zero Dark Thirty, candidly,” Feinstein says. “We were having a showing and I got into it about 15, 20 minutes and left. I couldn’t handle it. Because it’s so false.”

False, in Feinstein’s estimation, because she says the film inaccurately portrays torture as a key tool in obtaining information about bin Laden’s whereabouts. Feinstein recounts her revulsion in a new documentary from Frontline, airing Tuesday night on PBS, about the CIA’s torture program and whether brutal interrogations of detainees helped surface intelligence that led to bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, where U.S. special operations forces killed him in 2011.

The documentary portrays the Kathryn Bigelow movie, which purports to be a definitive account, as a skewed view that was heavily influenced by the CIA and its press office. The agency had given the filmmakers extraordinary access to classified details about the operation that they didn’t otherwise hand out to journalists.

“A lot of other people who covered the beat like I did in that search for bin Laden—we didn’t get close to that kind of cooperation from the agency on telling the inside story,” veteran Washington Post intelligence reporter Greg Miller told Frontline.

The documentary is short on news and revelations. But it concisely lays out the the dueling narratives between the CIA’s version of its so-called “rendition, detention, and interrogation” program, and the Senate Intelligence Commitee’s years-long investigation of the same. The committee’s findings conclude that the agency tortured detainees and failed to come up with useful intelligence about terrorist attacks. If you haven’t been following the minutiae of this now-decade-long controversy, the documentary will bring you up to speed.

Investigative journalist Michael Isikoff told Frontline that many more people will see Zero Dark Thirty than will read the countless newspaper articles about the CIA’s interrogation techniques. The movie, he thinks, will stand as the dominant narrative for what really happened in the search for bin Laden.

The Frontline producers seem conscious of that fact, and perhaps in the hopes that more people will watch a TV piece about the CIA program than read about it, they set out to poke holes in Langley’s version of events—and in Hollywood’s.

If there’s a central narrator to the piece, it’s former CIA general counsel John Rizzo, who seems less interested in defending his former employer than in settling a few scores. While Rizzo has told many of these stories already in his memoir, there are a few dramatic scenes—notably around a senior CIA official’s decision to destroy videotapes that interrogators had shot, illustrating the agency’s brutal work.

Rizzo recounts his reaction in 2005, upon receiving a cable from an overseas “black site” where prisoners were tortured, informing him that “pursuant to headquarters directions, the videotapes have been destroyed.”

Rizzo says that “after 25 years at [the] CIA, I didn’t think too much could flabbergast me, but reading that cable did.”

“I walked out of Zero Dark Thirty, candidly. We were having a showing and I got into it about 15, 20 minutes and left. I couldn’t handle it. Because it’s so false.”
Two years later, The New York Times broke the story that the agency had destroyed the footage. Rizzo says he immediately feared a “nightmare scenario” for the CIA if Congress suspected that the agency had tried to cover up the destruction. But he remembered that Porter Goss, the ex-CIA director and longtime congressman, had agreed back in 2005 to notify the heads of the congressional intelligence committees about what had happened.

Rizzo says he called Goss, who by then had left the CIA, and reminded him how they’d “divided up responsibility,” with Rizzo agreeing to tell the White House and Goss calling the Hill.

“I’ll never forget this,” Rizzo told Frontline. “There was a pause on the other end of the line, and Porter said, responded, ‘Well, actually, actually, I don’t think I ever really told the heads of the Intelligence Committee.’ The words he used was, ‘There just didn’t seem to be the right time to do it.’”

Ultimately, the documentary tells a story not so much of a full-fledged coverup, but of a series of obfuscations and spin jobs by various elements of the CIA. It was all in an effort to put the torture program in the best possible light and keep embarrassing facts out of the public eye.

That’s not a new story either, and one could be forgiven for watching the hour-long documentary and wondering, “What was the point of making it?”

The filmmakers answer that question in a parting shot from Times reporter Peter Baker, who correctly notes that there will probably be no more official investigations of the torture program, no further legal consequences for those involved, and no policy debate, since the torture program was shut down years ago.

“The fight right now is for history,” Baker says. “Why did it happen? Was it the right thing? Was it the wrong thing? And how should we look at it in generations to come?”

On those questions, Zero Dark Thirty won’t be the last word.

JUSTIFYING TORTURE05.19.1512:41 PM ET
By Shane Harris

Find this story at 19 May 2015

© 2014 The Daily Beast Company LLC

The CIA tortured Abu Zubaydah, my client. Now charge him or let him go Abu Zubaydah has now been held incommunicado for 12 years without trial. This is gross injustice

‘Abu Zubaydah is exhibit A of the Senate’s report. He is mentioned no less than 1,001 times.’ Photograph: AP
Even for those accustomed to the horrors of the CIA’s secret detention, torture and extraordinary rendition regime, the summary of the US Senate select committee on intelligence report makes chilling reading. It chronicles a systematic programme of prisoner torture and abuse, led by the CIA, but with the involvement of all levels of government and a multitude of other states. But it also reveals the extent of the misinformation surrounding the programme, and the pervasive sense of impunity that made it possible.

The report is the latest but not the last in a line of developments that are gradually prising open the truth about rendition. I am one of the legal representatives of Abu Zubaydah, a victim of that programme, in his proceedings against Poland and Lithuania before the European court of human rights. In a decision of 24 July, that court found Poland responsible for torture and secret detention by the CIA at a “black site” on its territory, and for failing to investigate and hold those responsible to account.

Abu Zubaydah might now be described as exhibit A in the week’s Senate report. He has the regrettable distinction of being the first victim of the CIA detention programme for whom, as the report makes clear, many of the torture (or “enhanced interrogation”) techniques were developed, and the only prisoner known to have been subject to all of them. With no less than 1,001 references to Abu Zubaydah specifically, the Senate report confirms the Strasbourg court’s findings regarding the horrific conditions of detention and interrogation techniques to which he and others were subject.

Among them were “wallings” (slamming prisoners against a wall), cramped confinement in boxes, sleep deprivation for up to 180 hours, usually nude and in stress positions, and waterboarding (which induced convulsions and vomiting). The waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah, to which the court notes he was subjected 83 times in one month alone, was authorised at the highest levels of government. It notes how “Abu Zubaydah became completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth”. The report concludes that “brutal” interrogations were far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.

Beyond the torture itself, the report reveals how misinformation has been generated to justify the dehumanisation of “high-value detainees” including Abu Zubaydah. Several of the exorbitant CIA claims, in some cases reiterated long after they were known to be false, are rejected point by point in the report. Despite repeated assertions that Abu Zubaydah was “the third or fourth man in al-Qaida”, the report notes that the “CIA later concluded that Abu Zubaydah was not a member of al-Qaida”. Likewise, it refutes claims regarding his involvement in 9/11, that the interrogating team was “certain he was withholding information” and claims, widely publicised, that his torture led to valuable actionable intelligence. The rejection of the last of these claims as unsupported by CIA records led to the Committee’s overall finding that “based on a review of CIA interrogation records … the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation”.

Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.
Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Today, 12 years after he was captured and subjected to this torture by the CIA, Abu Zubaydah, our client, remains in unlawful detention at Guantánamo Bay. He has had no review of the lawfulness of his detention, no criminal charges laid against him, no trial (despite his US counsel making a plea for him to be tried, noting that even trial by military justice is better than no trial at all), and he is not slated for trial. Instead, the US baldly asserts the right to detain him indefinitely under supposed “law of war” detention. The Senate report notes that, after taking custody of Abu Zubaydah, CIA officers concluded that he “should remain incommunicado for the remainder of his life”. Thus far, that is effectively what has happened. Despite evidence of his torture and secret detention, there has been no meaningful criminal investigation, no one has been held to account, and until the ECHR judgment this year, there has been no recognition of the violations of his rights.

Regrettably, the Senate report is heavily redacted so that the names of the states involved are withheld. But it is not difficult to identify the state to which he was transferred in December 2002, the date on which the ECHR found he had been transferred to Poland. Like the ECHR judgment, the Senate report reflects the existence of a “memorandum of understanding” between this state and the US to house a detention site. It records the state’s discomfort at one point, but says it later became “flexible with regard to the number of CIA detainees at the facility” following the intervention of the US ambassador and the transfer of millions of dollars. It records that officials of the state were upset, not at the discovery of unlawful detention or torture on its territory, but at the CIA’s “inability to keep secrets”.

In a galling twist, Poland has recently asked the ECHR to set aside its judgment and to refer the case to the court’s grand chamber, because it disputes the existence of a detention site. Throughout, it has maintained a policy of denial, refusing to cooperate with the court on secrecy grounds.

Since the Senate report, Poland’s position has begun to shift, with acknowledgments of the site but not what happened, exposing its disingenuity towards the court. The detailed and careful analysis by the Strasbourg judges of what the Warsaw government knew, and when, is already enough to demonstrate the implausible nature of Poland’s latest position. But the report throws Polish protestations (and those of other states) into much harsher relief. The court should dismiss Poland’s attempt to delay and obstruct justice for rendition victims.

Not only does Poland have an obligation to investigate and prosecute those responsible for rendition. For the other states which facilitated the practice, including the UK, where information pointing to knowledge and responsibility continues to emerge, investigation and prosecution is an international legal obligation not a policy alternative. It is time for victims of rendition such as Abu Zubaydah to be brought within the legal framework, to be either tried or released, to have the wrongs again them redressed, and for those responsible to be held to account.

Justice is best done by the states responsible. But where national courts fail, there is a continuing role for human rights courts to determine state responsibility, for courts in other states to judge individuals under universal jurisdiction, and ultimately also for the international criminal court. Truth, justice and accountability for these crimes against humanity are essential, not just for the individuals involved, but to reassert the relevance of the rule of law.

Helen Duffy, lawyer for Abu Zubaydah
The Guardian, Monday 15 December 2014 18.45 GMT

Find this story at 15 December 2014

© 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

CIA torture report: The doctors who were the unlikely architects of the CIA’s programme

The doctors subjected American soldiers to ‘coercive interrogation techniques’

They are the most unlikely architects of the CIA’s programme of torture. Two psychologists who swore to heal not harm.

Now it has been revealed that two doctors, identified by the pseudonyms Dr Grayson Swigert and Dr Hammond Dunbar, were paid $81 million by the CIA to help develop and implement a seven-year programme that included “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as waterboarding, placing detainees in stress positions and sleep deprivation.

Until now, little was known about the pair, who the New York Times has named as James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.

According to the declassifed documents, they created the programme in 2002 when the CIA took custody of Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi arrested in Pakistan and suspected of being an al-Qaeda lieutenant.

He was taken to an unnamed country, reportedly Thailand, where a prison – “detention site green” – became an experimental laboratory for Swigert and Dunbar to perfect the techniques they had learned at the US Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (Sere) school where they were based before.

Dr. Bruce Jessen refused to talk with ABC News in 2009, citing a confidentiality agreement with the government. Dr. James Mitchell refused to talk with ABC News in 2009 It was at the elite school, often used to train Special Forces troops, that the doctors subjected American soldiers to “coercive interrogation techniques that they might be subjected to if taken prisoner by countries that did not adhere to Geneva protections”.

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Neither doctor had any experience as an interrogator; neither had knowledge of al-Qaeda. Swigert, however, had reviewed literature on “learned helplessness in which individuals might become passive and depressed in response to adverse or uncontrollable events”.

Such helplessness, he imagined before joining the CIA’s programme, could “encourage a detainee to cooperate and provide information”.

After the detention of Zubaydah, the doctors’ programme – authorised by Justice Department lawyers – was expanded with detainees taken to secret prisons in Poland, Romania, Lithuania and other countries, or “partners” as they are referred to in the report.

CIA suspect Abu Zubaydah CIA suspect Abu Zubaydah (AP) During Swigert’s pitch for the programme he described 12 SERE techniques that could prove useful to the CIA. They were: “The attention grasp, walling, facial hold, facial slap, cramped confinement, standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation, water-board, use of diapers, use of insects, and mock burial.”

A year after Swigert and Dunbar began the torture (or “enhanced interrogation techniques”), a senior CIA interrogator would tell colleagues that their model at SERE was “based on resisting North Vietnamese physical torture” and “designed to extract confessions”.

Indeed, the interrogation was prioritised over the health of the detainee. One declassified cable says the interrogation team understood that “interrogation process takes precedence over preventative medical procedures”.

Four years after it began, the programme was at an end when George W Bush ordered detainees to be taken to Guantanamo Bay, and another form of torture began.

But Swigert and Dunbar had by that time realised their invention was lucrative and formed a company to conduct their work with the CIA.

The CIA’s contract with that company was in excess of $180million and the pair received in excess of $81m before the deal was terminated in 2009.

Before that, the CIA had provided a “indemnification agreement” to “protect the company and its employees from legal liability arising out of the programme”.

But by then, the doctors had completed their work.

SAM MASTERS Tuesday 09 December 2014

Find this story at 9 December 2014

© independent.co.uk

Kings of torture who made £50m inflicting pain: The incredible story of how two Mormons with no expertise conned the CIA Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen paid $81m to devise torture techniques

They told CIA to use waterboarding, stress positions and sleep deprivation Senate report says ‘enhanced’ techniques did not thwart terrorist plots But Mitchell says the report is a politically-motivated ‘load of hooey’ Doctors charged as much as $1,800 for their help with interrogations CIA contract was worth $180million but was cancelled by Obama in 2009 Mitchell is currently retired and living in Florida
Jessen has lived a private life in Spokane, Washington.
He was appointed a Mormon bishop in his hometown, but had to resign when church members found out about his past

Their names appear again and again in the U.S. Senate’s shocking report on CIA torture — two clinical psychologists who dreamt up ever more brutal ways to inflict humiliation and pain on uncharged prisoners kept in secret prisons.
Often they would do interrogations themselves, subjecting Al Qaeda suspects to endless waterboardings, beatings and week-long sleep deprivation with a gusto that even shocked hardened CIA agents. And all the time they were raking in millions as they convinced their CIA paymasters — against all evidence — that their illegal, immoral methods were getting results.

The 528-page Senate Intelligence Committee report published on Tuesday identifies the pair — who earned $81 million (£52 million) masterminding the CIA’s disastrous ‘enhanced interrogation’ programme from 2002 to 2009 — as Dr Grayson Swigert and Dr Hammond Dunbar.

These are pseudonyms. U.S. media have named them as James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, two retired air force psychologists who learnt their trade when they helped to teach U.S. servicemen how to avoid capture and survive interrogation.
As part of the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) programme at the elite Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington State, they subjected U.S. airmen to mock ‘interrogation techniques that they might be subjected to if taken prisoner by countries that did not adhere to Geneva protections’.

They struck gold when they convinced a gullible CIA that these techniques should be used in deadly earnest on terror suspects.
No matter that the men were almost comically ill-equipped to be interrogation masterminds. As the Senate report witheringly observes: ‘Neither psychologist had any experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialised knowledge of Al Qaeda, a background in terrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise.’
What they did have was some aggressive ideas on how to grill suspected terrorists that perfectly suited the CIA’s grim mood after the 9/11 attacks on New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, in 2001.Mitchell, now 63, had just retired from the military but saw an opportunity to display his gung-ho patriotism and make some money. He already had CIA contacts from his role at the airbase and he approached them with a plan, backed by impressive-sounding psychobabble, for ‘enhanced’ interrogation.
Base: Psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were given the huge sum to develop the ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques used at facilities such as Guantanamo Bay (pictured)

Ironically, Mitchell borrowed his central theory — called ‘learned helplessness’ — from an expert on happiness. Psychologist Martin Seligman studied depression and discovered research from the 1960s in which dogs given persistent small electric shocks eventually became listless and didn’t bother to escape.
Mitchell adapted this research for his own ends. He claimed that if Al Qaeda suspects were made to face ‘persistent adversity’ they would be pushed into hopelessness and co-operate.
It didn’t seem to matter that other psychologists and experienced interrogators disagreed, arguing that there was no scientific evidence for Mitchell’s theory and that experience had shown brutal interrogation techniques did not work: prisoners would just say whatever they thought their interrogators wanted to hear.
Within two months of 9/11, desperate CIA bosses had recruited Mitchell to study an Al Qaeda manual, seized in the UK, which coached members on how to resist interrogations. How could the CIA get around such resistance and elicit intelligence from captives, they asked.
For help with the answer, Mitchell recruited Jessen, now 65, an old friend from the airbase who shared his Mormon background.

They put together a 12-point interrogation programme based on the techniques they had used on U.S. servicemen in SERE training. These included slaps to the face, cramped confinement, agonising stress positions, prolonged sleep deprivation, forced nudity, slamming prisoners into the wall, making them soil themselves while wearing nappies, and waterboarding.
The pair admitted they had never tried waterboarding but insisted it was an ‘absolutely convincing technique’.
The SERE methods they taught were based on tactics first used by the Chinese to extract confessions from U.S. prisoners during the Korean War. Now they would be used by the Americans.
The irony that now it was the U.S. that would be flouting the Geneva Conventions seemed lost on everyone.
Mitchell reportedly told CIA chiefs that interrogations required ‘a comparable level of fear and brutality to flying planes into buildings’. Some of their proposals, such as mock burials, were too extreme even for the CIA, which rejected them.
CIA chief admits some interrogation techniques were abhorrent

‘Our goal was to reach the stage where we have broken any will or ability of subject to resist or deny providing us information (intelligence) to which he had access,’ Mitchell and Jessen said in a cable published in the Senate report.
The cold-blooded pair — Jessen the son of an Idaho potato farmer, Mitchell raised in straitened circumstances by his grandmother in Tampa, Florida — got their first chance to try out their ideas when the CIA captured Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah in 2002.
He was spirited to a secret CIA prison, or ‘black site’, in Thailand. Although FBI interrogators used conventional, non-violent ‘rapport-building’ techniques to get crucial information from him, the CIA flew in with Mitchell and he got to work. The psychologist had the prisoner stripped, placed in a freezing cold all-white room and blasted with rock music to prevent him sleeping.
Jessen soon joined his friend in Thailand and, according to the Senate report, FBI agents there complained that the psychologists had ‘acquired tremendous influence’ over the CIA.
Yet even after being waterboarded for two-and-a-half hours and put in a coffin-sized ‘confinement box’ for more than 11 days out of 20, Zubaydah offered no more useful information.
Some CIA interrogators were so disturbed by his treatment they were on the point of tears. Even the agency’s interrogations chief was dismayed, emailing colleagues to say the unending brutality towards prisoners was a train wreck ‘waiting to happen and I intend to get the hell off the train before it happens’.
Dismissive: Despite being bound by a non-disclosure agreement to not reveal any details of their work with the CIA, Mitchell yesterday labelled the Senate’s findings as a ‘load of hooey’

A CIA doctor warned that the pair’s ‘arrogance and narcissism’ — believing ‘their way is the only way’ — could prove seriously counterproductive.
Yet the influence of ‘the Mormon Mafia’, as they were nicknamed, merely increased as their methods were used on at least 27 more prisoners, and interrogators across the U.S. were trained in their tactics.
Under their lucrative CIA contract they toured black sites across the world, briefing senior politicians including Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice and conducting interrogations themselves, often training CIA staff ‘on the job’.
And who was given responsibility for checking on the psychological state of those being interrogated? Amazingly, it was Mitchell and Jessen.
In 2003 they were summoned to a black site in Poland to interrogate another Al Qaeda big fish — 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. When he resisted, says the report, Jessen promised to ‘go to school on this guy’.
Techniques: A detainee from Afghanistan is carried on a stretcher after being interrogated in 2002
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Techniques: A detainee from Afghanistan is carried on a stretcher after being interrogated in 2002
They not only threatened his children — a new low — but upped the unpleasantness of his waterboarding (which Mohammed was subjected to 183 times) by waiting for him to open his mouth to talk before pouring water over it.
It was, of course, Mitchell and Jessen who then assessed the state of the suspect. They concluded that interrogation should continue — conducted by them.
Mitchell and Jessen were getting very rich from the CIA’s patronage, each being paid about $1,800 (£1,146) a day — four times what other interrogators were getting. The Senate report reveals that by 2005 the CIA had almost fully outsourced its detention and interrogation programme. The pair were the chief beneficiaries.
WHY DID DR MITCHELL DECIDE TO OFFER HIS SERVICES TO THE CIA?
In an emotional interview with Vice News, Dr Mitchell, a former military man, explained how the September 11 attacks inspired him to help America get revenge on Al Qaeda.
He said: ‘It was horrific that people had to choose between burning to death and jumping off of buildings.
‘I don’t think that should happen to anybody. So I called up one of the people who was managing one of my contracts and said, ‘I want to be part of the solution’, really not knowing anything about anything other than, like anyone who watched [the attacks] who has a background in the military, we all wanted to be part of the solution.’
That year, they formed a company — Mitchell Jessen and Associates — specifically for their work for the CIA. It operated from an unmarked office in Spokane, Washington State. In 2006 its contract with the agency was worth a potential $180 million; by 2007 it was employing 60 people, including senior ex-CIA and FBI staff.
Mitchell was wealthy enough to buy a BMW and build a $1 million dream house in Florida.
By the time the contract was terminated in 2009, when the Obama Administration shut the black sites and stopped contractors doing interrogations, they had earned $81 million (£51 million) of taxpayers’ money, the Senate report reveals. Mitchell and Jessen shut up shop overnight, leaving no forwarding address, and have largely disappeared from public sight. The CIA has agreed to cover any legal expenses for them until 2021.
Neither has ever publicly expressed any regret, citing a non-disclosure agreement with the CIA. But Mitchell defended the CIA’s record within hours of the Senate report coming out.
‘It’s like somebody backed up your driveway and dumped a steaming pile of horse crap,’ he growled to U.S. broadcaster ABC. He described the report as politically motivated ‘bull****’ that had relied on ‘cherry-picked’ facts.
The Senate report said there was no evidence that enhanced interrogation ever worked. Other experts say it probably did the opposite, bolstering prisoners’ resolve or producing a string of false leads from people talking just to get the pain to stop.
The U.S. Justice Department has declined to prosecute anyone accused of interrogation abuses — but outrage over the revelations has led to demands from human rights groups, senators and even the United Nations for the guilty to be held accountable.
Many hope that, as the most easily identifiable offenders in the Senate report, Mitchell and Jessen will soon be the ones sweating it out in the glare of the interrogator’s spotlight.

By TOM LEONARD IN NEW YORK FOR THE DAILY MAIL
PUBLISHED: 11:49 GMT, 11 December 2014 | UPDATED: 00:37 GMT, 12 December 2014

Find this story at 12 December 2014

© Associated Newspapers Ltd

EXCLUSIVE: CIA Psychologist’s Notes Reveal True Purpose Behind Bush’s Torture Program (2011)

Dr. Bruce Jessen’s handwritten notes describe some of the torture techniques that were used to “exploit” ”war on terror” detainees in custody of the CIA and Department of Defense.

Bush administration officials have long asserted that the torture techniques used on “war on terror” detainees were utilized as a last resort in an effort to gain actionable intelligence to thwart pending terrorist attacks against the United States and its interests abroad.

But the handwritten notes obtained exclusively by Truthout drafted two decades ago by Dr. John Bruce Jessen, the psychologist who was under contract to the CIA and credited as being one of the architects of the government’s top-secret torture program, tell a dramatically different story about the reasons detainees were brutalized and it was not just about obtaining intelligence.

Jason Leopold interviews Jessen’s former SERE colleague, retired Air Force Capt. Michael Kearns.

Rather, as Jessen’s notes explain, torture was used to “exploit” detainees, that is, to break them down physically and mentally, in order to get them to “collaborate” with government authorities. Jessen’s notes emphasize how a “detainer” uses the stresses of detention to produce the appearance of compliance in a prisoner.

Click to view notes larger.

Click to view larger.

Indeed, a report released in 2009 by the Senate Armed Services Committee about the treatment of detainees in US custody said Jessen was the author of a “Draft Exploitation Plan” presented to the Pentagon in April 2002 that was implemetned at Guantanamo and at prison facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. But to what degree is unknown because the document remains classified. Jessen also co-authored a memo in February 2002 on “Prisoner Handling Recommendations” at Guantanamo, which is also classified.

Moreover, the Armed Services Committee’s report noted that torture techniques approved by the Bush administration were based on survival training exercises US military personnel were taught by individuals like Jessen if they were captured by an enemy regime and subjected to “illegal exploitation” in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Jessen’s notes, prepared for an Air Force survival training course that he later “reverse engineered” when he helped design the Bush administration’s torture program, however, go into far greater detail than the Armed Services Committee’s report in explaining how prisoners would be broken down physically and psychologically by their captors. The notes say survival training students could “combat interrogation and torture” if they are captured by an enemy regime by undergoing intense training exercises, using “cognitive” and “exposure techniques” to develop “stress inoculation.” [Click here to download a PDF file of Jessen’s handwritten notes. Click here to download a zip file of Jessen’s notes in typewritten form.]

The documents stand as the first piece of hard evidence to surface in nine years that further explains the psychological aspects of the Bush administration’s torture program and the rationale for subjecting detainees to so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Jessen’s notes were provided to Truthout by retired Air Force Capt. Michael Kearns, a “master” SERE instructor and decorated veteran who has previously held high-ranking positions within the Air Force Headquarters Staff and Department of Defense (DoD).

Kearns and his boss, Roger Aldrich, the head of the Air Force Intelligence’s Special Survial Training Program (SSTP), based out of Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington, hired Jessen in May 1989. Kearns, who was head of operations at SSTP and trained thousands of service members, said Jessen was brought into the program due to an increase in the number of new survival training courses being taught and “the fact that it required psychological expertise on hand in a full-time basis.”

“Special Mission Units”

Jessen, then the chief of Psychology Service at the US Air Force Survival School, immediately started to work directly with Kearns on “a new course for special mission units (SMUs), which had as its goal individual resistance to terrorist exploitation.”

The course, known as SV-91, was developed for the Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) branch of the US Air Force Intelligence Agency, which acted as the Executive Agent Action Office for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Jessen’s notes formed the basis for one part of SV-91, “Psychological Aspects of Detention.”

Special mission units fall under the guise of the DoD’s clandestine Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and engage in a wide-range of highly classified counterterrorist and covert operations, or “special missions,” around the world, hundreds of who were personally trained by Kearns. The SV-91 course Jessen and Kearns were developing back in 1989 would later become known as “Special Survival for Special Mission Units.”

Before the inception of SV-91, the primary SERE course was SV-80, or Basic Combat Survival School for Resistance to Interrogation, which is where Jessen formerly worked. When Jessen was hired to work on SV-91, the vacancy at SV-80 was filled by psychologist Dr. James Mitchell, who was also contracted by the CIA to work at the agency’s top-secret black site prisons in Europe employing SERE torture techniques, such as the controlled drowning technique know as waterboarding, against detainees.

While they were still under contract to the CIA, the two men formed the “consulting” firm Mitchell, Jessen & Associates in March 2005. The “governing persons” of the company included Kearns’ former boss, Aldrich, SERE contractor David Tate, Joseph Matarazzo, a former president of the American Psychological Association and Randall Spivey, the ex-chief of Operations, Policy and Oversight Division of JPRA.

Mitchell, Jessen & Associates’ articles of incorporation have been “inactive” since October 22, 2009 and the business is now listed as “dissolved,” according to Washington state’s Secretary of State website.

Capt. Michael Kearns (left) and Dr. Bruce Jessen at Fort Bragg’s Nick Rowe SERE Training Center, 1989. Photo courtesy of retired Air Force Capt. Michael Kearns.

Lifting the “Veil of Secrecy”

Kearns was one of only two officers within DoD qualified to teach all three SERE-related courses within SSTP on a worldwide basis, according to a copy of a 1989 letter written by Aldrich, who nominated Kearns officer of the year.

He said he decided to come forward because he is outraged that Jessen used their work to help design the Bush administration’s torture program.

“I think it’s about time for SERE to come out from behind the veil of secrecy if we are to progress as a moral nation of laws,” Kearns said during a wide-ranging interview with Truthout. “To take this survival training program and turn it into some form of nationally sanctioned, purposeful program for the extraction of information, or to apply exploitation, is in total contradiction to human morality, and defies basic logic. When I first learned about interrogation, at basic intelligence training school, I read about Hans Scharff, a Nazi interrogator who later wrote an article for Argosy Magazine titled ‘Without Torture.’ That’s what I was taught – torture doesn’t work.”

What stands out in Jessen’s notes is that he believed torture was often used to produce false confessions. That was the end result after one high-value detainee who was tortured in early 2002 confessed to having information proving a link between the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, according to one former Bush administration official.

It was later revealed, however, that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, had simply provided his captors a false confession so they would stop torturing him. Jessen appeared to be concerned with protecting the US military against falling victim to this exact kind of physical and psychological pressure in a hostile detention environment, recognizing that it would lead to, among other things, false confessions.

In a paper Jessen wrote accompanying his notes, “Psychological Advances in Training to Survive Captivity, Interrogation and Torture,” which was prepared for the symposium: “Advances in Clinical Psychological Support of National Security Affairs, Operational Problems in the Behavioral Sciences Course,” he suggested that additional “research” should be undertaken to determine “the measurability of optimum stress levels in training students to resist captivity.”

“The avenues appear inexhaustible” for further research in human exploitation, Jessen wrote.

Such “research” appears to have been the main underpinning of the Bush administration’s torture program. The experimental nature of these interrogation methods used on detainees held at Guantanamo and at CIA black site prisons have been noted by military and intelligence officials. The Armed Services Committee report cited a statement from Col. Britt Mallow, the commander of the Criminal Investigative Task Force (CITF), who noted that Guantanamo officials Maj. Gen. Mike Dunleavy and Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller used the term “battle lab” to describe the facility, meaning “that interrogations and other procedures there were to some degree experimental, and their lessons would benefit [the Department of Defense] in other places.”

What remains a mystery is why Jessen took a defensive survival training course and assisted in turning it into an offensive torture program.

Truthout attempted to reach Jessen over the past two months for comment, but we were unable to track him down. Messages left for him at a security firm in Alexandria, Virginia he has been affiliated with were not returned and phone numbers listed for him in Spokane were disconnected.

A New Emphasis on Terrorism

SV-91 was developed to place a new emphasis on terrorism as SERE-related courses pertaining to the cold war, such as SV-83, Special Survival for Sensitive Reconnaissance Operations (SRO), whose students flew secret missions over the Soviet Union, Eastern Bloc, and other communist countries, were being scaled back.

The official patch of the Special Survival Training ProgramThe official coin of the Special Survival Training Program

The official patch and coin of the Special Survival Training Program. (Photo courtesy of retired Air Force Capt. Michael Kearns)

SSTP evolved into the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), the DoD’s executive agency for SERE training, and was tapped by DoD General Counsel William “Jim” Haynes in 2002 to provide the agency with a list of interrogation techniques and the psychological impact those methods had on SERE trainees, with the aim of utilizing the same methods for use on detainees. Aldrich was working in a senior capacity at JPRA when Haynes contacted the agency to inquire about SERE.

The Army also runs a SERE school as does the Navy, which had utilized waterboarding as a training exercise on Navy SERE students that JPRA recommended to DoD as one of the torture techniques to use on high-value detainees.

Kearns said the value of Jessen’s notes, particularly as they relate to the psychological aspects of the Bush administration’s torture program, cannot be overstated.

“The Jessen notes clearly state the totality of what was being reverse-engineered – not just ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ but an entire program of exploitation of prisoners using torture as a central pillar,” he said. “What I think is important to note, as an ex-SERE Resistance to Interrogation instructor, is the focus of Jessen’s instruction. It is exploitation, not specifically interrogation. And this is not a picayune issue, because if one were to ‘reverse-engineer’ a course on resistance to exploitation then what one would get is a plan to exploit prisoners, not interrogate them. The CIA/DoD torture program appears to have the same goals as the terrorist organizations or enemy governments for which SV-91 and other SERE courses were created to defend against: the full exploitation of the prisoner in his intelligence, propaganda, or other needs held by the detaining power, such as the recruitment of informers and double agents. Those aspects of the US detainee program have not generally been discussed as part of the torture story in the American press.”

Ironically, in late 2001, while the DoD started to make inquiries about adapting SERE methods for the government’s interrogation program, Kearns received special permission from the US government to work as an intelligence officer for the Australian Department of Defence to teach the Australian Special Air Service (SAS) how to use SERE techniques to resist interrogation and torture if they were captured by terrorists. Australia had been a staunch supporter of the invasion of Afghanistan and sent troops there in late 2001.

Kearns, who recently waged an unsuccessful Congressional campaign in Colorado, was working on a spy novel two years ago and dug through boxes of “unclassified historical materials on intelligence” as part of his research when he happened to stumble upon Jessen’s notes for SV-91. He said he was “deeply shocked and surprised to see I’d kept a copy of these handwritten notes as certainly the originals would have been destroyed (shredded)” once they were typed up and made into proper course materials.

“I hadn’t seen these notes for over twenty years,” he said. “However, I’ll never forget that day in September 2009 when I discovered them. I instantly felt sick, and eventually vomited because I felt so badly physically and emotionally that day knowing that I worked with this person and this was the material that I believe was ‘reverse-engineered’ and used in part to design the torture program. When I found the Jessen papers, I made several copies and sent them to my friends as I thought this could be the smoking gun, which proves who knew what and when and possibly who sold a bag of rotten apples to the Bush administration.”

Kearns was, however, aware of the role SERE played in the torture program before he found Jessen’s notes, and in July 2008, he sent an email to the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin, who was investigating the issue and offered to share information with Levin about Jessen and the SERE program in general. The Michigan Democrat responded to Kearns saying he was “concerned about this issue” and that he “needed more information on the subject,” but Levin never followed up when Kearns offered to help.

“I don’t know how it went off the tracks, but the names of the people who testified at the Senate Armed Services, Senate Judiciary, and Select Intelligence committees were people I worked with, and several I supervised,” Kearns said. “It makes me sick to know people who knew better allowed this to happen.”

Levin’s office did not return phone calls or emails for comment. However, the report he released in April 2009, “Inquiry Into the Treatment of Detainees in US Custody,” refers to SV-91. The report includes a list of acronyms used throughout the report, one of which is “S-V91,” identified as “the Department of Defense High Risk Survival Training” course. But there is no other mention throughout the report of SV-91 or the term “High Risk Survival Training,” possibly due to the fact that sections of the report where it is discussed remain classified. Still, the failure by Levin and his staff to follow up with Kearns–the key military official who had retained Jessen’s notes and helped develop the very course those notes were based upon that was cited in the report–suggests Levin’s investigation is somewhat incomplete.

Control and Dependence

A copy of the syllabus for SV-91, obtained by Truthout from another source who requested anonymity, states that the class was created “to provide special training for selected individuals that will enable them to withstand exploitation methods in the event of capture during peacetime operations…. to cope with such exploitation and deny their detainers useable information or propaganda.”

Although the syllabus focuses on propaganda and interrogation for information as the primary means of exploiting prisoners, Jessen’s notes amplify what was taught to SERE students and later used against detainees captured after 9/11 . He wrote that a prisoner’s captors seek to “exploit” the prisoner through control and dependence.

“From the moment you are detained (if some kind of exploitation is your Detainer’s goal) everything your Detainer does will be contrived to bring about these factors: CONTROL, DEPENDENCY, COMPLIANCE AND COOPERATION,” Jessen wrote. “Your detainer will work to take away your sense of control. This will be done mostly by removing external control (i.e., sleep, food, communication, personal routines etc. )…Your detainer wants you to feel ‘EVERYTHING’ is dependent on him, from the smallest detail, (food, sleep, human interaction), to your release or your very life … Your detainer wants you to comply with everything he wishes. He will attempt to make everything from personal comfort to your release unavoidably connected to compliance in your mind.”

Jessen wrote that cooperation is the “end goal” of the detainer, who wants the detainee “to see that [the detainer] has ‘total’ control of you because you are completely dependent on him, and thus you must comply with his wishes. Therefore, it is absolutely inevitable that you must cooperate with him in some way (propaganda, special favors, confession, etc.).”

Jessen described the kinds of pressures that would be exerted on the prisoner to achieve this goal, including “fear of the unknown, loss of control, dehumanization, isolation,” and use of sensory deprivation and sensory “flooding.” He also included “physical” deprivations in his list of detainer “pressures.”

“Unlike everyday experiences, however, as a detainee we could be subjected to stressors/coercive pressures which we cannot completely control,” he wrote. “If these stressors are manipulated and increased against us, the cumulative effect can push us out of the optimum range of functioning. This is what the detainer wants, to get us ‘off balance.’”

“The Detainer wants us to experience a loss of composure in hopes we can be manipulated into some kind of collaboration…” Jessen wrote. “This is where you are most vulnerable to exploitation. This is where you are most likely to make mistakes, show emotions, act impulsively, become discouraged, etc. You are still close enough to being intact that you would appear convincing and your behavior would appear ‘uncoerced.’”

Kearns said, based on what he has read in declassified government documents and news reports about the role SERE played in the Bush administration’s torture program, Jessen clearly “reverse-engieered” his lesson plan and used resistance methods to abuse “war on terror” detainees.

The SSTP course was “specifically and intentionally designed to assist American personnel held in hostile detention,” Kearns said. It was “not designed for interrogation, and certainly not torture. We were not interrogators we were ‘role-players’ who introduced enemy exploitation techniques into survival scenarios as student learning objectives in what could be called Socratic-style dilemma settings. More specifically, resistance techniques were learned via significant emotional experiences, which were intended to inculcate long-term valid and reliable survival routines in the student’s memory. The one rule we had was ‘hands off.’ No (human intelligence) operator could lay hands on a student in a ‘role play scenario’ because we knew they could never ‘go there’ in the real world.”

But after Jessen was hired, Kearns contends, Aldrich immediately trained him to become a mock interrogator using “SERE harsh resistance to interrogation methods even though medical services officers were explicitly excluded from the ‘laying on’ of hands in [resistance] ‘role-play’ scenarios.”

Aldrich, who now works with the Center for Personal Protection & Safety in Spokane, did not return calls for comment.

“Torture Paper”

The companion paper Jessen wrote included with his notes, which was also provided to Truthout by Kearns, eerily describes the same torturous interrogation methods US military personnel would face during detention that Jessen and Mitchell “reverse engineered” a little more than a decade later and that the CIA and DoD used against detainees.

Indeed, in a subsection of the paper, “Understanding the Prisoner of War Environment,” Jessen notes how a prisoner will be broken down in an attempt to get him to “collaborate” with his “detainer.”

“This issue of collaboration is ‘the most prominent deliberately controlled force against the (prisoner of war),” Jessen wrote. “The ability of the (prisoner of war) to successfully resist collaboration and cope with the obviously severe approach-avoidance conflict is complicated in a systematic and calculated way by his captors.

“These complications include: Threats of death, physical pressures including torture which result in psychological disturbances or deterioration, inadequate diet and sanitary facilities with constant debilitation and illness, attacks on the mental health via isolation, reinforcement of anxieties, sleeplessness, stimulus deprivation or flooding, disorientation, loss of control both internal and external locus, direct and indirect attack on the (prisoner of war’s) standards of honor, faith in himself, his organization, family, country, religion, or political beliefs … Few seem to be able to hold themselves completely immune to such rigorous behavior throughout all the vicissitudes of long captivity. Confronted with these conditions, the unprepared prisoner of war experiences unmanageable levels of fear and despair.”

“Specific (torture resistance) techniques,” Jessen wrote, “taught to and implemented by the military member in the prisoner of war setting are classified” and were not discussed in the paper he wrote. He added, “Resistance Training students must leave training with useful resistance skills and a clear understanding that they can successfully resist captivity, interrogation or torture.”

Kearns also declined to cite the specific interrogation techniques used during SERE training exercises because that information is still classified. Nor would he comment as to whether the interrogations used methods that matched or were similar to those identified in the August 2002 torture memo prepared by former Justice Department attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee.

However, according to the Senate Armed Services Committee report “SERE resistance training … was used to inform” Yoo and Bybee’s torture memo, specifically, nearly a dozen of the brutal techniques detainees were subjected to, which included waterboarding, sleep deprivation, painful stress positions, wall slamming and placing detainees in a confined space, such as a container, where his movement is restricted. The CIA’s Office of Technical Services told Yoo and Bybee the SERE techniques used to inform the torture memo were not harmful, according to declassified government documents.

Many of the “complications,” or torture techniques, Jessen wrote about, declassified government documents show, became a standard method of interrogation and torture used against all of the high-value detainees in custody of the CIA in early 2002, including Abu Zubaydah and self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, as well as detainees held at Guantanamo and prison facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The issue of “collaborating” with one’s detainer, which Jessen noted was the most important in terms of controlling a prisoner, is a common theme among the stories of detainees who were tortured and later released from Guantanamo.

For example, Mamdouh Habib, an Australian citizen who was rendered to Egypt and other countries where he was tortured before being sent to Guantanamo, wrote in his memoir, “My Story: the Tale of a Terrorist Who Wasn’t,” after he was released without charge, that interrogators at Guantanamo “tried to make detainees mistrust one another so that they would inform on each other during interrogation.”

Binyam Mohamed, am Ethiopian-born British citizen, who the US rendered to a black site prison in Morocco, said that a British intelligence informant, a person he knew and who was recurited, came to him in his Moroccan cell and told him that if he became an intelligence asset for the British, his torture, which included scalpel cuts to his penis, would end. In December 2009, British government officials released documents that show Mohamed was subjected to SERE torture techniques during his captivity in the spring of 2002.

Abdul Aziz Naji, an Algerian prisoner at Guantanamo until he was forcibly repatriated against his wishes to Algeria in July 2010, told an Algerian newspaper that “some detainees had been promised to be granted political asylum opportunity in exchange of [sic] a spying role within the detention camp.”

Mohamedou Ould Salahi, whose surname is sometimes spelled “Slahi,” is a Mauritanian who was tortured in Jordan and Guantanamo. Investigative journalist Andy Worthington reported that Salahi was subjected to “prolonged isolation, prolonged sleep deprivation, beatings, death threats, and threats that his mother would be brought to Guantanamo and gang-raped” unless he collaborated with his interrogators. Salahi finally decided to become an informant for the US in 2003. As a result, Salahi was allowed to live in a special fenced-in compound, with television and refrigerator, allowed to garden, write and paint, “separated from other detainees in a cocoon designed to reward and protect.”

Still, despite collaborating with his detainers, the US government mounted a vigorous defense against Salahi’s petition for habeas corpus. His case continues to hang in legal limbo. Salahi’s fate speaks to the lesson Habib said he learned at Guantanamo: “you could never satisfy your interrogator.” Habib felt informants were never released “because the Americans used them against the other detainees.”

Jessen’s and Mitchell’s mutimillion dollar government contract was terminated by CIA Director Leon Panetta in 2009. According to an Associated Press report, the CIA agreed to pay – to the tune of $5 million – the legal bills incurred by their consulting firm.

Recently a complaint filed against Mitchell with the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists by a San Antonio-based psychologist, an attorney who defended three suspected terrorists imprisoned at Guantanamo and by Zubaydah’s attorney Joseph Margulies. Their complaint sought to strip Mitchell of his license to practice psychology for violating the board’s rules as a result of the hands-on role he played in torturing detainees, was dismissed due to what the board said was a lack of evidence. Mitchell, who lives in Florida, is licensed in Texas. A similar complaint against Jessen may soon be filed in Idaho, where he is licensed to practice psychology.

Kearns, who took a graduate course in cognitive psychotherapy in 1988 taught by Jessen, still can’t comprehend what motivated his former colleague to turn to the “dark side.”

“Bruce Jessen knew better,” Kearns said, who retired in 1991 and is now working on his Ph.D in educational psychology. “His duplicitous act is appalling to me and shall haunt me for the rest of my life.”

Tuesday, 22 March 2011 14:29
By Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kaye, Truthout | Investigative Report

Find this story at 22 March 2011

© 2014 Truthout

THE CHARMED LIFE OF A CIA TORTURER: HOW FATE DIVERGED FOR MATTHEW ZIRBEL, AKA CIA OFFICER 1, AND GUL RAHMAN

Matthew Zirbel’s home in Great Falls, Virginia is filled with oriental carpets, perhaps collected from his time spent working in countries like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The million dollar home has “LOTS of “WOW!” You will “Oooh & Ahhh”, says this recent description on Zillow.

This isn’t the first time Zirbel’s surroundings have wowed someone. Over a decade ago, Zirbel, then a junior CIA officer, was in charge of the Salt Pit, a “black site” in Afghanistan referred to in the recent Senate torture report as “Cobalt,” where detainees were routinely brutalized and which one visitor described as a “dungeon.” A delegation from the Federal Bureau of Prisons was “WOW’ed” by the Salt Pit’s sensory deprivation techniques, and a CIA interrogator said that prisoners there “literally looked like [dogs] that had been kenneled,” according to the report.

In fact, one of the most horrifying stories – and there are many – in the Senate report on torture takes place in the Salt Pit, where Gul Rahman was murdered by the U.S. government in November 2002

Rahman, an Afghan, was rendered to the Salt Pit in the fall of 2002 after being apprehended in Pakistan. At that time the torture center was being run by a man referred to as “CIA Officer 1” in the Senate report. News outlets have not named him in covering the report but he has previously been identified as Zirbel, after the government accidentally included his name in a report that had been declassified.

Zirbel was on his first foreign tour for the CIA and colleagues, according to the Senate report, had recommended that he not be allowed access to classified material due to his “lack of honesty, judgment, and maturity,” according to the Senate report. A Senate aide who briefed reporters about Zirbel said the CIA officer had “issues” in his background, the Daily Beast reported, and should never have been hired by the CIA.

The CIA officer deemed Rahman “uncooperative,” and ordered that the detainee be “shackled to the wall of his cell in a position that required him to rest on the bare concrete floor.” The following morning Rahman, who was wearing only a sweatshirt, was found dead of hypothermia. He’d frozen to death in his cell, where the temperature hovered around 36 degrees Fahrenheit.

Zirbel’s initial cable to CIA headquarters about the case was riddled with lies — “misstatements and omissions,” as the Senate report put it. Four months later, a superior at the agency recommended Zirbel for a $2,500 bonus for “consistently superior work.”

The CIA successfully covered up Rahman’s death until 2010 — his wife and four daughters were never notified — when Adam Goldman and Kathy Gannon of the AP revealed his identity. The Senate report identifies Rahman as one of 26 detainees who did not meet the “standard for detention”; Footnote 32 calls his a case of “mistaken identity.”

In 2005, the CIA’s “Accountability Board” suggested that Zirbel be suspended without pay for ten days. But the agency’s then-Executive Director — Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, who later received a prison term of about three years for defrauding the government in a case involving bribes paid to former congressman Randy Cunningham — decided that was excessive, and ruled that no disciplinary action was merited.

A few years later a limited probe of the torture program by the Department of Justice recommended that Rahman’s death be the subject of a full criminal investigation. Attorney General Eric Holder, who was busy not prosecuting Wall Street firms for collapsing the global economy, eventually closed the case.

President Obama still can’t decide whether the CIA got carried away with its interrogation program and former Vice President Dick Cheney and General Michael Hayden are on cable news defending “rectal rehydration” as a dietary aid. But for most people the revelations in the Senate report were appalling. “You interrogate people to get information, not revenge,” Frank Anderson a former CIA Chief of the Near East and South Asia Division, told me. “Torture is counterproductive, illegal and morally repugnant.”

***

Rec Room in Basement -We know what became of Rahman, but what happened to Zirbel?

There’s very little in the public record about him, which suggests he prefers to keep a low profile. However, a notice in the Congressional Record in 2004 shows that he received an executive appointment that year as a State Department foreign service officer, a post that’s often used as CIA cover.

Seven years after his orders led to Rahman’s death, Zirbel, who has been described as unfit for CIA employment, was working for one U.S. government agency or another in Saudi Arabia. In 2009, U.S. Customs records show that Zirbel shipped 26 containers of “House Hold Goods & Personal Effect” from the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah to a home in Great Falls.

Several news accounts in 2010 said that Zirbel — whom the stories described but did not name — was still working for the agency.

It’s not clear if Zirbel currently works for the CIA, or government, but wherever he is, he certainly doesn’t appear to he hurting for money. Public records show he owns several properties, including the house in Great Falls, which he bought in 2006 for $1.3 million and still owns. The house sits on five wooded acres and is apparently being rented for $4,500 per month, so Zirbel lives elsewhere.

In the meantime, renters get to enjoy views of a stocked pond (“feel free to fish!” the ad says). There’s also an “invisible fence,” which is typically used to keep dogs from wandering off the property by delivering an electric shock through a collar.

Incidentally, Zirbel’s estate in Virginia is about 200 miles southeast of Loretto, Pennsylvania. That’s where CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, the only person ever sentenced to prison time over the torture program, is currently shacked up at a federal correctional institute.

Zirbel did not respond to attempts to reach him at phone numbers listed in public records and via Skype.

“We have no comment on the individual you reference or claims you make about his purported affiliation,” a CIA spokesman said in reply to questions about Zirbel. He said “significant improvements” had been implemented following Rahman’s death, “including far more stringent standards governing interrogations and safety.” Further refinements have been made in response to concerns raised in the Senate report, the spokesman said.

The spokesman also pointed to the CIA’s response to the Senate report, which said that it had been a mistake to delegate management of Salt Pit — the name of the “facility” is redacted in the response — to a junior officer “given the risks inherent in the program.”

“The Agency could have and should have brought in a more experienced officer to assume these responsibilities,” the CIA response said. “The death of Rahman, under conditions that could have been remediated by Agency officers, is a lasting mark on the Agency’s record.”

BY KEN SILVERSTEIN @KenSilverstein1 AN HOUR AGO

Find this story at 15 December 2014

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