The “Obama Is Dangerous” Meme Starts

Ken AshfordWar on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

Over at The Corner, Mark Thiesson (former Bush speechwriter) gripes:

Less than 48 hours after taking office, Obama has begun dismantling those institutions without time for any such review.  The CIA program he is effectively shutting down is the reason why America has not been attacked again after 9/11. He has removed the tool that is singularly responsible for stopping al-Qaeda from flying planes into the Library Tower in Los Angeles, Heathrow Airport, and London’s Canary Warf, and blowing up apartment buildings in Chicago, among other plots.  It’s not even the end of inauguration week, and Obama is already proving to be the most dangerous man ever to occupy the Oval Office.

[Emphasis mine].

Hyperbole, lies, hyperbole, lies.

The CIA program that Obama is "effectively shutting down" is, as we all know, the torture program.  But was the torture program "singularly responsible" for stopping, say, the Library Tower attack in Los Angeles?  Nope.  According to intelligence experts:

U.S. intelligence began to unravel the plot after Zaini Zakaria, an engineer from Malaysia, was arrested in December 2002. Zaini had spent time in training camps in Afghanistan. There, he came into contact with Hambali, who later recruited him into the "planes operation" as a pilot. Zaini obtained a general aviation license in Malaysia in 1999 and was working toward a license to fly jets from Australia. However, he reportedly pulled out of the al Qaeda plot after seeing media coverage of the 9/11 attacks.

Zaini was arrested by Malaysian authorities, under that country's Internal Security Act, and sent to the Kamunting Detention Center in Taiping. The next arrest — which probably was the death knell for the Library Tower plot — was that of Mohammed in Pakistan, in March 2003. Hambali was captured in Thailand in August the same year, which effectively put all the key players behind bars.

Policework — catching the bad guys — put the plot (which never got behind the formative stage anyway) down.  Not torture.  Torture (if any existed — by us or the Malaysians) may have revealed the plot, but at the point of its revelation, it was already defunct.

And even then, how do we know the Liberty Towers plot is even true?  An al-Qaeda operative says so?  Under torture (perhaps)?  Is that reliable information?  Might the operative be saying something — anything — simply to end the interrogation?