Today's op-ed by Ali Soufan, an FBI interrogator of Zubaydah, gives us critical, first-hand evidence of how the torture regime was put into place. Soufan notes that torture was applied to Zubaydah even though he had provided a great deal of actionable and accurate intelligence from traditional Western interrogation techniques. But he adds a critical detail: CIA officers were in the room during the traditional interrogation tactics. They knew he was cooperative. They did not want to start torturing him. Someone higher up ordered them. And yet the premise of the Bybee memo's authorization of the torture of Zubaydah states as fact:
The interrogation team is certain that he has additional information that he refuses to divulge. Specifically, he is withholding information regarding terrorist networks in the United Stares or in Saudi Arabia and information regarding plans to conduct attacks within the United States or against our interests overseas.
As the invaluable emptywheel notes (more valuable than most of the journalists at the NYT and WaPo), Soufan is proving that the CIA's premise to Bybee was false. It appears that all the FBI interrogators and several CIA interrogators believed Zubayhdah had nothing more to tell. And here is Bybee's caveat:
We also understand that you do not have any facts in your possession contrary to the facts outlined here, and this opinion is limited to these facts. If these facts were to change, this advice would not necessarily apply.
If someone withheld information, or someone ignored that information in providing the factual basis for Bybee's torture green light, then we have very clear proof that someone high up wanted to torture Zubaydah regardless. We also know that some have testified this was designed to prove a Saddam-Qaeda link (which did not exist). To put this in plain English: We had a president determined to torture a prisoner to get false evidence on which to justify a war.
Keep walking, Peggy. Keep walking.