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Sunday, October 03, 2004

Psst. Wanna Buy Some High-Value Intelligence? 

Courtesy of our admired colleague Prometheus 6: As Mr. Franklin said, "They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Well, we wiped our asses on the Geneva Conventions and used the Constitution for a birdcage liner, and what did we get back in the way of safety? You guessed it -- fuckity fuck-all:
Prisoner interrogations at Guantánamo Bay, the controversial US military detention centre where guards have been accused of brutality and torture, have not prevented a single terrorist attack, according to a senior Pentagon intelligence officer who worked at the heart of the US war on terror.

Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Christino, who retired last June after 20 years in military intelligence, says that President George W Bush and US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have 'wildly exaggerated' their intelligence value.

Christino's revelations, to be published this week in Guantánamo: America's War on Human Rights, by British journalist David Rose, are supported by three further intelligence officials. Christino also disclosed that the 'screening' process in Afghanistan which determined whether detainees were sent to Guantánamo was 'hopelessly flawed from the get-go'.

It was performed by new recruits who had almost no training, and were forced to rely on incompetent interpreters. They were 'far too poorly trained to identify real terrorists from the ordinary Taliban militia'.

According to Christino, most of the approximately 600 detainees at Guantánamo - including four Britons - at worst had supported the Taliban in the civil war it had been fighting against the Northern Alliance before the 11 September attacks, but had had no contact with Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda.

For six months in the middle of 2003 until his retirement, Christino had regular access to material derived from Guantánamo prisoner interrogations, serving as senior watch officer for the central Pentagon unit known as the Joint Intelligence Task Force-Combating Terrorism (JITF-CT). This made him responsible for every piece of information that went in or out of the unit, including what he describes as 'analysis of critical, time-sensitive intelligence' . . . .

Bush, Rumsfeld and Major General Geoffrey Miller, Guantánamo's former commandant who is now in charge of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, have repeatedly claimed that Guantánamo interrogations have provided 'enormously valuable intelligence,' thanks to a system of punishments, physical and mental abuse and rewards for for co-operation, introduced by Miller and approved by Rumsfeld.

However, Christino says, General Miller had never worked in intelligence before being assigned to Guantánamo, and his system seems almost calculated to produce entirely bogus confessions.

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