Talk about explosive. We can already see the policy arguments, newsroom discussions, and dinnertime brawls emanating from the latest terrorism book to hit shelves, one that already has the blogosphere buzzing.
In “Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions after 9/11 Saved American Lives,” by former head of CIA’s clandestine service, Jose Rodriguez, and the CIA’s former top spokesman, Bill Harlow, Rodriguez argues for the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” like waterboarding, methods some consider torture.
In the book, Rodriguez, who for years was unable to publicly respond to criticism of his interrogation techniques, defends his waterboarding program and his order to destroy videotapes of harsh interrogation sessions in which suspected Al Qaeda members were held down and subjected to simulated drowning. He also goes on the counterattack, pointing a finger at those he says hindered the fight against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
According to the Daily Beast, which earlier obtained a copy of the controversial memoir, those targets include the government of Pakistan, Washington’s supposed ally in the war on terror, whom Rodriguez says is actually assisting terrorists.
“We got close to [9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] a couple of times,” Rodriguez writes. “At one point we had narrowed down his whereabouts to a few square miles in Karachi. Working with Pakistani liaison, we tried to narrow it down. But then a corrupt Pakistani policeman who had somehow learned of the effort tipped off KSM. An email from the crooked cop was intercepted. In it, he told KSM, ‘They know where you are.’”
Rodriguez also goes after the FBI, whom he said publicly criticized the CIA’s interrogation methods and hampered its efforts. “Could we have gotten the same information using FBI practices?” Rodriguez asks. “Maybe. If we had all the time in the world, perhaps we could have. But we did not.”
He also skewers CIA critics in Congress, none more so than House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, challenging her assertion that she was not informed about the use of waterboarding.
“Pelosi said that we only briefly mentioned waterboarding and left the impression that it had not been used,” Rodriguez writes, explaining that he himself briefed her about waterboarding and its use, according to the Daily Beast review. He also says Pelosi posed no objection to the technique. “I know she got it.”
“There is no doubt in my mind that she, like almost all Americans less than a year after, wanted us to be aggressive to make sure that Al Qaeda wasn’t able to replicate their attack…. Pelosi was another member of Congress reinventing the truth.”
Rodriguez even goes after the CIA inspector general’s office, which reprimanded him for the destruction of the interrogation videotapes and the Obama administration, whom he says has become too reliant on missile-armed drones to kill, instead of capture, terrorists.
“Drones can be a highly effective way of dealing with high-priority targets,” Rodriguez writes in the book. “But they should not become the drug of choice for an administration that is afraid to use successful, legal and safe tactics of the past.” He adds, “Needless to say, there is no opportunity to interrogate or learn anything from a suspect who is vaporized by a missile launched by a keystroke executed thousands of miles away.”
We’re pretty sure this won’t be the last we hear of “Hard Measures.”
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.