Former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury in the Reagan administration, Paul Craig Roberts, explains why when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed to the outlandish assortment of plots and crimes under torture, his captivity played right into his hands and undermined their own credibility.
The first confession released by the Bush regime’s Military Tribunals–that of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed–has discredited the entire process. Writing in Jurist, Northwestern University law professor Anthony D’Amato likens Mohammed’s confession to those that emerged in Stalin’s show trials of Bolshevik leaders in the 1930s.
That was my own immediate thought. I remember speaking years ago with Soviet dissident Valdimir Bukovsky about the behavior of Soviet dissidents under torture. He replied that people pressed for names under torture would try to remember the names of war dead and people who had passed away. Those who retained enough of their wits under torture would confess to an unbelievable array of crimes in an effort to alert the public to the falsity of the entire process.
That is what Mohammed did. We know he was tortured, because his response to the obligatory question about his treatment during his years of detention is redacted. We also know that he was tortured, because otherwise there is no point for the US Justice (sic) Dept. memos giving the green light to torture or for the Military Commissions Act, which permits torture and death sentence based on confession extracted by torture.
Mohammed’s confession of crimes and plots is so vast that Katherine Shrader of the Associated Press reports that the Americans who extracted Mohammed’s confession do not believe it either. It is exaggerated, say Mohammed’s tormentors, and must be taken with a grain of salt.
In other words, the US torture crew, reveling in their success, played into Mohammed’s hands. Pride goes before a fall, as the saying goes.
Mohammed’s confession admits to 31 planned and actual attacks all over the world, including blowing up the Panama Canal and assassinating presidents Carter and Clinton and the Pope. Having taken responsibility for the whole ball of wax along with everything else that he could imagine, he was the entire show. No other terrorists needed.
Reading responses of BBC listeners to Mohammed’s confession reveals that the rest of the world is either laughing at the US government for being so stupid as to think that anyone anywhere would believe the confession or damning the Bush regime for being like the Gestapo and KGB.
The huge irony is that even if Mohammed was indeed a major player in the 9/11 attacks, it’s likely we’ll never know because anything that he confesses to could well be another effort to muddy the waters. If ever there was a clear argument for why torture does not work, this must surely be it.