CIA Director nominee John Brennan
911 Blogger.com
Posted on February 10, 2013

The pervasive news surrounding the confirmation hearing of John Brennan, Obama’s nominee for CIA director, is paralleled by another, related story that has been largely ignored by the U.S. media. That is the story of the man called Abu Zubaydah, whose alleged torture testimony, obtained by the CIA while Brennan was the head of the agency’s Terrorist Threat Center, built the foundation for the official account of 9/11. This week I spoke to Lee Hamilton, former vice-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, about the serious problems that the government’s new stance on Zubaydah creates for the 9/11 Commission Report.

As stated in my last article on the subject, Zubaydah is at the center of an unraveling of the official account of the 9/11 attacks.[1] His extensive torture at the hands of the CIA during Brennan’s tenure, which included at least 83 water-boarding sessions, hanging the man naked from the ceiling, slamming him against a concrete wall, and other atrocious experimental techniques, was said to produce valuable evidence about al Qaeda. However, the government now claims that Zubaydah was never a member or associate of al Qaeda and therefore he could not have known any of the information that the 9/11 Commission attributed to him.

From the start of our conversation, Hamilton told me that he was having trouble remembering Zubaydah. That was odd considering that an article he and Thomas Kean wrote for the New York Times in 2008, describing how the CIA obstructed the 9/11 investigation, referred several times to Zubaydah specifically.[2] The article claimed that “Beginning in June 2003, we requested all reports of intelligence information on these broad topics that had been gleaned from the interrogations of 118 named individuals, including both Abu Zubaydah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, two senior Qaeda operatives.” Kean and Hamilton further wrote that, “in October 2003, we sent another wave of questions to the C.I.A.’s general counsel. One set posed dozens of specific questions about the reports, including those about Abu Zubaydah.”

These requests from the 9/11 Commission should have resulted in the release of some revealing records. That is, while John Brennan was leading the CIA’s Terrorist Threat Center, the agency videotaped the torture of Zubaydah and others, and proceeded to intentionally withhold that information from the 9/11 Commission. Brennan and CIA director George Tenet were almost certainly involved in the decisions regarding that obstruction. The two men had worked closely together for years. As CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, Brennan often communicated directly with Tenet, avoiding the usual chain of command. At the time, as an apparent favor to the Saudis, CIA analysts were discouraged from questioning Saudi relationship to Arab extremists.[3] It seems that Brennan and Tenet had a tendency to protect some terrorist suspects and cover-up the agency’s treatment of others.

In 2009, it was revealed that when Brennan was the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, in 2005, the CIA had destroyed the torture tapes, most of which featured Zubaydah.[4] Describing the CIA’s obstruction, Hamilton wrote — “The agency did not disclose that any interrogations had ever been recorded or that it had held any further relevant information, in any form. Not satisfied with this response, we decided that we needed to question the detainees directly, including Abu Zubaydah and a few other key captives.”[5]

Therefore Hamilton remembered very clearly, in 2008, that he had asked the CIA at least twice, in a potentially contentious manner, for information specifically about Zubaydah. Having not received that information, Hamilton asked the CIA for the opportunity to question Zubaydah directly. The CIA not only denied these requests, it denied the Commission access to the interrogators who compelled the alleged testimony. Despite such memorable denials, however, Hamilton cannot seem to recall anything about Zubaydah at all other than his feeling that Zubaydah did not play a significant part in the 9/11 Commission Report. He told me “I’m a little fuzzy on this but the information that we had from him was not critical to our report.”[6]

Read more