Risen charges that Tenet caved to Bush entirely on the torture of al-Qaeda detainees. After the 2002 capture of Abu Zubaydah, a bin Laden deputy, failed to yield much information due to his drowsiness from medical treatment, Bush allegedly told Tenet, "Who authorized putting him on pain medication?" Not only did Tenet get the message -- brutality while questioning an enemy prisoner was no problem -- but Tenet also never sought explicit White House approval for permissible interrogation techniques, contributing to what Risen speculates is an effort by senior officials "to insulate Bush and give him deniability" on torture.
Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be....Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda's go-to guy for minor logistics.
Which brings us back to the unbalanced Abu Zubaydah. "I said he was important," Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" "No sir, Mr. President," Tenet replied. Bush "was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth," Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, "Do some of these harsh methods really work?"
Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety -- against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, "thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each...target." And so, Suskind writes, "the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered."
digby in particular, is geting the vapors on the latest installment of the Bush 'we don't torture' theme and how it is that the GOP Christian candidates are frothing at the mouth to out'Torquemada' the other candidates.
Why should anyone be surprised that that man would demand that a mentally ill prisoner with a broken leg be denied pain medication and tortured?
The idea that he (Bush) didn't know about these torture session is ludicrous. It was one of the perks.
Update: And I would suggest that there is ample evidence that the Republican candidates for president this time, in different ways, have all shown a similar penchant for a nasty, simple-minded meanness or outright sadism. But the press is ignoring that once again in favor of predigested GOP spin which explores in detail such character revelations as Clinton's "brittleness" and Obama's "aloofness" and Edwards' "inauthenticity." Never mind the people who say they want to start deporting massive numbers of people because they are all diseased criminals or those who want to "double Gitmo." As far as the press is concerned, their biggest problem is figuring out which ones are the most Christian.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!