Sunday, October 21, 2007


Nobody could have predicted that torturing the shit out of people might not be such an awesome idea.

WASHINGTON -- The FBI is quietly reconstructing the cases against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 14 other accused Al Qaeda leaders being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, spurred in part by U.S. concerns that years of CIA interrogation have yielded evidence that is inadmissible or too controversial to present at their upcoming war crimes tribunals, government officials familiar with the probes said.

The process is an embarrassment for the Bush administration, which for years held the men incommunicado overseas and allowed the CIA to use coercive means to extract information from them that would not be admissible in a U.S. court of law -- and might not be allowed in their military commissions, some former officials and legal experts said. Even if the information from the CIA interrogations is allowed, they said, it would probably risk focusing the trials on the actions of the agency and not the accused.


But the CIA moved aggressively to take over the interrogations of Mohammed and other senior Al Qaeda detainees, beginning with suspected training camp coordinator Abu Zubeida, who was captured in Pakistan in 2002. Some current and former FBI officials said the spy agency began using coercive techniques such as waterboarding, or simulated drowning, in an effort to get the detainees to talk immediately about the terrorist network's plans.

CIA officials told The Times that the FBI wasn't getting crucial information about pending attacks out of Zubeida that they knew he possessed, and that their "enhanced" techniques ultimately worked better and faster. Current and former FBI officials said those CIA techniques resulted in false confessions that were obtained illegally.

By mid-2002, several former agents and senior bureau officials said, they had begun complaining that the CIA-run interrogation program amounted to torture and was going to create significant problems down the road -- particularly if the Bush administration was ever forced to allow the Al Qaeda suspects to face their accusers in court.


"Those guys were using techniques that we didn't even want to be in the room for," one senior federal law enforcement official said. "The CIA determined they were going to torture people, and we made the decision not to be involved."

A senior FBI official who since has retired said he also complained about the lack of usable evidence and admissible statements being gathered. "We knew there were going to be problems back then. But nobody was listening," he said. "Now they have to live with the policy that they have adopted. I don't know if anyone thought of the consequences."