November 4, 2005


When the C.I.A. Played by the Rules (MILT BEARDEN, 11/04/05, NY Times)

TODAY the Supreme Court justices are expected to debate whether they will hear a case involving a Yemeni named Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who is accused of being Osama bin Laden's driver. A federal appeals court found that Mr. Hamdan, who was captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and is being held at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, was not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions; he has appealed to the high court.

If the court does not choose to review the appellate court's decision, and then overturn it, America's national security will be endangered. I say that based on my experience as the senior American intelligence officer during the final three years of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1986 to 1989). And I also feel that our intelligence agencies and military commanders should make clear to the Bush administration that our country's most fundamental commitments of humanitarian treatment have long been extended to the Afghan battlefield.

The policy of three presidents - Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush - was that both the Afghan mujahedeen insurgents we supported and their Soviet adversaries would be treated within the precepts of the Geneva Conventions when taken prisoner. I can state without reservation that the United States used its influence consistently to promote that policy - with overwhelmingly positive results.

We're fighting organizations that target civilians, including kidnapping them in order to murder them for the cameras, but he thinks being nice to them will get them to treat actual soldiers well? If we stop shooting at them will they stop shooting at us too in this magic fairyland?

One wonders, for example, how anyone can justify not torturing this guy, Terror Arrest Reported: U.S. authorities say a man who helped coordinate the Sept. 11 attacks and others is captured, but Pakistan says the report is 'all speculation.' (Josh Meyer, November 4, 2005, LA Times)

Authorities in Pakistan have captured a suspected Al Qaeda operative believed to have played a role in plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States as well as subsequent bombings in Madrid and London, U.S. officials said Thursday.

Several U.S. counter-terrorism officials said that one of the men arrested in a recent raid in Quetta is Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, 47, a Syrian also known as Abu Musab al-Suri or Abu Musab the Syrian. [...]

"We'd like to get our hands on him," said one U.S. counter-terrorism official who was involved in the post-Sept. 11 investigation of an Al Qaeda cell in Spain that allegedly included Nasar.

He described Nasar as an important but mysterious link for the 19 suicide hijackers, alleged plot coordinator Ramzi Binalshibh and others known and unknown who in July 2001 attended a meeting near Tarragona, Spain. It was there that lead hijacker Mohamed Atta is believed to have finalized his plans for the Sept. 11 attacks.

"He clearly knew the players in 9/11; he knew about or even set up the meeting with Atta and helped facilitate that," the U.S. official said.

A U.S. Justice Department website describes Nasar as a former trainer at Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan who taught recruits how to use poisons and chemicals.

U.S. and European authorities suspect that he played an organizational role in the mass-transit bombings in Madrid on March 11, 2004, that killed 191 people and the July 7 bus and subway bombings in London that killed 52 commuters.

Several U.S. authorities said Thursday that they were also interested in learning more about Nasar's connections to Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, the accused Syrian-born Spanish boss of an Al Qaeda cell in Madrid that was dismantled by Spanish authorities in 2001. order to find out their future plans and hidden cells.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 4, 2005 7:08 AM

What is the color of the sky in his world? Plaid? Paisley?

Posted by: Mikey at November 4, 2005 7:37 AM

Oil up the thumbscrews for Nasar. He may know where OBL is ... or if he is.

Posted by: Genecis at November 4, 2005 8:06 AM

Milt Bearden wrote a very interesting autobiography, "The Main Enemy : The Inside Story of the CIA's Final Showdown with the KGB", but OJ is right about him fighting the last war. Our enemy isn't the KGB who, while very nasty, at least played by the 'rules'. Most of the time.

Posted by: rps at November 4, 2005 8:33 AM

I think he should ask Vietnam POW's if support for the Geneva Convention by Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon improved their treatment.

Posted by: Chris B at November 4, 2005 8:59 AM

Chris B: I agree with you. But Sen. McCain for instance somehow thinks the Geneva Convention is helpful. I don't understand him on this.

Posted by: Bob at November 4, 2005 9:36 AM

i have always wondered if giving one of these buggers a strong case of flu, soaking them in ice water, and sitting them in front of a fan, wouldn't work better than torture.

Posted by: louis pasteur at November 4, 2005 10:17 AM

. . . and leaving a bowl of hot chicken soup just out of reach would be a nice touch, too.

Posted by: obc at November 4, 2005 11:09 PM