October 24, 2012
U.S. Officials Created a False Link Between Iraq and 9/11
5 hours after the 9/11 attacks, Donald
“my interest is to hit Saddam".
“Go massive... Sweep it all up. Things related and not"
And at 2:40 p.m. on September 11th, in a
memorandum of discussions between top administration officials, several
lines below the statement,
“judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [that is,
Saddam Hussein] at same time”, is the statement
"Hard to get a good case.”
In other words, top officials knew that there
wasn’t a good case that Hussein was behind 9/11, but they wanted to use
9/11 attacks as an excuse to justify war with Iraq anyway.
“Ten days after the September 11,
2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon,
President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S.
intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam
Hussein to the [9/11] attacks and that there was scant credible evidence
that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda”.
And a Defense Intelligence Terrorism Summary
issued in February 2002 by the United States Defense Intelligence Agency
cast significant doubt on the possibility of a Saddam Hussein-al-Qaeda
And yet Bush, Cheney and other top
administration officials claimed repeatedly for years that Saddam was behind
Bush administration officials apparently
swore in a lawsuit
that Saddam was behind 9/11.
Moreover, President Bush’s
March 18, 2003 letter to Congress authorizing the use of force against Iraq,
includes the following paragraph:
(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and
Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other
countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international
terrorists and terrorist organizations,
including those nations,
organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided
the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
Therefore, the Bush administration expressly
justified the Iraq war to Congress by representing that Iraq planned,
authorized, committed, or aided the 9/11 attacks.
Indeed, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind
reports that the White House ordered the CIA to forge and backdate a
document falsely linking Iraq with Muslim terrorists and 9/11… and that the
CIA complied with those instructions and in fact created the forgery, which
was then used to justify war against Iraq. And see
Suskind also revealed that,
had information from a top Iraqi intelligence official ‘that there were no
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq - intelligence they received in plenty
of time to stop an invasion’.”
Cheney made the false linkage between Iraq and
on many occasions.
For example, according to Raw Story, Cheney was
still alleging a connection between Iraq and the alleged lead 9/11 hijacker
in September 2003 - a year after it had been widely debunked.
When NBC’s Tim Russert
asked him about a poll showing that 69% of Americans believed Saddam
Hussein had been involved in 9/11, Cheney replied:
It’s not surprising that people make that
And even after the
9/11 Commission debunked any connection, Cheney
said that the evidence is “overwhelming” that al Qaeda had a
relationship with Saddam Hussein’s regime , that Cheney “probably” had
information unavailable to the Commission, and that the media was not ‘doing
their homework’ in reporting such ties.
Again, the Bush administration expressly
justified the Iraq war by representing that Iraq planned, authorized,
committed, or aided the 9/11 attacks.
On December 16, 2005,
"There was no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the attack of
9/11" (see below video).
However, Bush and Cheney continued to frequently
invoke 9/11 as justification for the Iraq war. And
see this. (Cheney finally
admitted in 2009 that there was no link.)
A bipartisan Senate Report from 2006 found that
Bush misled the press on Iraq link to Al-Qaeda.
The administration’s false claims about Saddam
and 9/11 helped convince a large portion of the American public to support
the invasion of Iraq. While the focus now may be on false WMD claims, it is
important to remember that, at the time, the alleged link between Iraq and
at least as important in many people’s mind as a reason to invade Iraq.
false claims about Iraqi WMDs probably would not have gained traction if
it wasn’t for the anti-Arab hysteria after September 11th.
government policy of torture would not have been tolerated if we weren’t
misled into thinking that Saddam and Al-Qaeda had formed an unholy,
all-powerful alliance on 9/11, and had to be stopped at any cost.
Saddam-911 deception was a necessary precursor to the
administration’s WMD lies and torture policies.
And 2006 polls show that almost
90% of the troops in Iraq are under the mistaken belief that the U.S.
mission in that country is,
“to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11
In other words, our kids are fighting and dying
because of this lie.
U.S. Officials Launched a Systematic Program
Using Specialized Techniques Which Produce False Confessions… to
Justify the Iraq War
Not only did Bush, Cheney and other top
government officials lie about us into the Iraq war by making a false
linkage between Iraq and 9/11, but they carried out a systematic program of
torture in order to intentionally create false evidence
of that allegation.
the entire purpose behind the U.S. torture program was to
obtain false confessions.
And the torture techniques used were
specifically designed to
produce false confessions.
Senator Levin, in commenting on a Senate Armed
Services Committee report on torture in 2009,
dropped the following bombshell:
With last week’s release of the Department
of Justice Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinions, it is now widely
known that Bush administration officials distorted Survival Evasion
Resistance and Escape “SERE” training - a legitimate program used by the
military to train our troops to resist abusive enemy interrogations - by
authorizing abusive techniques from SERE for use in detainee
Those decisions conveyed the message that
abusive treatment was appropriate for detainees in U.S. custody. They
were also an affront to the values articulated by General Petraeus.
In SERE training, U.S. troops are briefly
exposed, in a highly controlled setting, to abusive interrogation
techniques used by enemies that refuse to follow the Geneva Conventions.
The techniques are based on tactics used by Chinese Communists against
American soldiers during the Korean War for the purpose of eliciting
false confessions for propaganda purposes.
Techniques used in SERE training include
stripping trainees of their clothing, placing them in stress positions,
putting hoods over their heads, subjecting them to face and body slaps,
depriving them of sleep, throwing them up against a wall, confining them
in a small box, treating them like animals, subjecting them to loud
music and flashing lights, and exposing them to extreme temperatures.
Until recently, the Navy SERE school also used waterboarding.
The purpose of the SERE program is to
provide U.S. troops who might be captured a taste of the treatment they
might face so that they might have a better chance of surviving
captivity and resisting abusive and coercive interrogations.
Senator Levin then documents that SERE
techniques were deployed as part of an official policy on detainees, and
that SERE instructors helped to implement the interrogation programs.
The senior Army SERE psychologist warned in
2002 against using SERE training techniques during interrogations in an
email to personnel at Guantanamo Bay, because:
[T]he use of physical pressures brings
with it a large number of potential negative side effects…
When individuals are gradually exposed
to increasing levels of discomfort, it is more common for them to
resist harder… If individuals are put under enough discomfort, i.e.
pain, they will eventually do whatever it takes to stop the pain.
This will increase the amount of
information they tell the interrogator, but it does not mean the
information is accurate. In fact, it usually decreases the
reliability of the information because the person will say whatever
he believes will stop the pain…
Bottom line: the likelihood that the use
of physical pressures will increase the delivery of accurate
information from a detainee is very low.
The likelihood that the use of physical
pressures will increase the level of resistance in a detainee is
very high… (p. 53).
filled in some of the details:
Former senior U.S. intelligence official
familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators
find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration…
For most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and
Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al
Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others
had told them were there.”
It was during this period that CIA
interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaida detainees repeatedly
- Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid Sheik
Muhammed 183 times in March 2003 - according to a newly released Justice
When people kept coming up empty, they were
told by Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people to push harder,” he continued.
”Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people were told repeatedly, by CIA... and by
others, that there wasn’t any reliable intelligence that pointed to
operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam...
A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj.
Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at
the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under “pressure” to
produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.
“While we were there a large part of the
time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and
Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida
and Iraq,” Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. “The more
frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . .
there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might
produce more immediate results.”
“I think it’s obvious that the
administration was scrambling then to try to find a connection, a link
(between al Qaida and Iraq),” [Senator] Levin said in a conference call
with reporters. “They made out links where they didn’t exist.”
Levin recalled Cheney’s assertions that a
senior Iraqi intelligence officer had met Mohammad Atta, the leader of
the 9/11 hijackers, in the Czech Republic capital of Prague just months
before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The FBI and CIA found that no such meeting
In other words, top Bush administration
officials not only knowingly lied about a non-existent connection between Al
Qaida and Iraq, but they pushed and insisted that interrogators use special
torture methods aimed at extracting false confessions to attempt to
create such a false linkage.
The Washington Post
reported the same year:
Despite what you’ve seen on TV, torture is
really only good at one thing: eliciting
Indeed, Bush-era torture techniques, we now know, were cold-bloodedly
modeled after methods used by Chinese Communists to
extract confessions from captured U.S. servicemen that they could then
use for propaganda during the Korean War.
So as shocking as the latest revelation in a
new Senate Armed Services Committee report may be, it actually makes
sense - in a nauseating way.
The White House started pushing the use of
torture not when faced with a “ticking time bomb” scenario from
terrorists, but when officials in 2002 were desperately casting
about for ways to tie Iraq to the 9/11 attacks - in order to
strengthen their public case for invading a country that had nothing to
do with 9/11 at all.
Gordon Trowbridge writes for the Detroit
News: “Senior Bush administration officials pushed for the use of
abusive interrogations of terrorism detainees in part to seek evidence
to justify the invasion of Iraq, according to newly declassified
information discovered in a congressional probe.
Indeed, one of the two senior instructors from
the Air Force team which taught U.S. servicemen how to resist torture by
foreign governments when used to extract false confessions has blown the
whistle on the true purpose behind the U.S. torture program.
As Truth Out
reported last year:
Jessen’s notes were provided to Truthout by
retired Air Force Capt. Michael Kearns, a “master” SERE instructor and
decorated veteran who has previously held high-ranking positions
within the Air Force Headquarters Staff and Department of Defense (DoD).
Kearns and his boss, Roger Aldrich, the head
of the Air Force Intelligence’s Special Survial Training Program (SSTP),
based out of Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington, hired
Jessen in May 1989.
Kearns, who was head of operations at SSTP and
trained thousands of service members, said Jessen was brought into the
program due to an increase in the number of new SERE courses being
taught and “the fact that it required psychological expertise on hand in
a full-time basis.”
Jessen, then the chief of Psychology Service
at the US Air Force Survival School, immediately started to work
directly with Kearns on “a new course for special mission units (SMUs),
which had as its goal individual resistance to terrorist exploitation.”
The course, known as SV-91, was developed
for the Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) branch of the US Air
Force Intelligence Agency, which acted as the Executive Agent Action
Office for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Jessen’s notes formed the basis
for one part of SV-91, “Psychological Aspects of Detention.”
Kearns was one of only two officers within
DoD qualified to teach all three SERE-related courses within SSTP on a
worldwide basis, according to a copy of a 1989 letter written Aldrich,
nominated him officer of the year.
"The Jessen notes clearly state the totality
of what was being reverse-engineered - not just ‘enhanced interrogation
techniques,’ but an entire program of exploitation of prisoners using
torture as a central pillar,” he said.
“What I think is important to
note, as an ex-SERE Resistance to Interrogation instructor, is the focus
of Jessen’s instruction. It is exploitation, not specifically
interrogation. And this is not a picayune issue, because if one were to
‘reverse-engineer’ a course on resistance to exploitation then what one
would get is a plan to exploit prisoners, not interrogate them.
The CIA/DoD torture program appears to have the same goals as the
terrorist organizations or enemy governments for which SV-91 and other
SERE courses were created to defend against: the full exploitation of
the prisoner in his intelligence, propaganda, or other
needs held by the detaining power, such as the recruitment of informers
and double agents.
Those aspects of the US detainee program have not
generally been discussed as part of the torture story in the American
Jessen wrote that cooperation is the “end
goal” of the detainer, who wants the detainee “to see that [the
detainer] has ‘total’ control of you because you are completely
dependent on him, and thus you must comply with his wishes.
Therefore, it is absolutely inevitable that you must cooperate with him
in some way (propaganda, special favors, confession, etc.).”
Kearns said, based on what he has read in
declassified government documents and news reports about the role SERE
played in the Bush administration’s torture program, Jessen clearly
“reverse-engineered” his lesson plan and used resistance methods to
abuse “war on terror” detainees.
So we have the two main Air Force insiders
concerning the genesis of the torture program confirming - with original
notes - that the whole purpose of the torture program was to extract false
Indeed, the top interrogation experts from U.S.
military and intelligence services say that
all torture is lousy at producing actionable intelligence, the only
things it is good for are,
(1) producing false confessions
(3) itself acting as a form
And false confessions
in fact, extracted.
President Bush mentioned Abu Zubaydah as a
success story, where torture saved lives. Zubaydah was suspected of
being a high-ranking al-Qaida leader. Bush administration officials
claimed Zubaydah told them that al-Qaida had links with Saddam Hussein.
He also claimed there was a plot to attack Washington with a “dirty
Both claims are now
recognized to be false, even by the CIA, which also
admits he was never a member of al-Qaida.
“During… my interrogation I gave a lot of false information in order to
satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear” (the
self-confessed 9/11 “mastermind”
falsely confessed to crimes he didn’t commit)
(Indeed, the 9/11 Commission Report was largely
based on a third-hand account of what tortured detainees said, with
two of the three parties in the communication
being government employees.
And the government went to great lengths to
obstruct justice and hide unflattering facts from the Commission.)
Again, this essay is not focused on questioning
the government’s statements about Al Qaeda and 9/11… it focuses on the false
testimony and coercion post-9/11 to justify war against Iraq.
Did Government Officials Have Any Motive?
When criminal prosecutors look assess whether or
not a suspect is likely guilty, they determine whether or not he had motive,
means and opportunity.
The means and opportunity for top U.S. officials
to carry out the war crimes of lying us into war based upon a false linkage
between Iraq and 9/11 and to torture people into giving false confessions is
Specifically, top government officials such as,
...had power to take
such actions, if they had wanted to.
It has been extensively documented that the
White House decided to invade Iraq
Former CIA director George Tenet said
that the White House
wanted to invade Iraq long before 9/11, and inserted “crap” in its
justifications for invading Iraq.
Former Treasury Secretary Paul
O’Neill - who sat on the National Security Council - also
says that Bush planned the Iraq war before 9/11. Top British
say that the U.S. discussed Iraq regime change even before Bush
And in 2000, Cheney
said a Bush administration might “have to take military action
to forcibly remove Saddam from power.” And
“Five months before September 11, the US advocated
using force against Iraq… to secure control of its oil.”
...and others all say
that the Iraq war was really about oil.)
Indeed, neoconservatives planned regime change
in Iraq - and throughout the Middle East and North Africa -
This provides evidence of motive by top American
officials to create false justifications for a war against Iraq.
In addition, Cheney and Rumsfeld made
false claims exaggerating the threat posed by Russia’s weapons
in the 1970s to justify huge increases in military spending.
Prosecutors look at previous lies as evidence that the defendant is
intentionally lying now.
Similarly, Cheney and Rumsfeld’s lies
about WMDs in the 1970s add to the
mountain of evidence that government officials intentionally lied about
allegedly offered to leave Iraq:
“Fearing defeat, Saddam was prepared to go
peacefully in return for £500million ($1billion)”.
“The extraordinary offer was revealed
yesterday in a transcript of talks in February 2003 between George Bush
and the then Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar at the President’s
“The White House refused to comment on the
report last night. But, if verified, it is certain to raise questions in
Washington and London over whether the costly four-year war could have
According to the tapes, Bush told Aznar that
whether Saddam was still in Iraq or not,
“We’ll be in Baghdad by the end of
If true, this adds additional circumstantial evidence that U.S.
officials were committed to a war in Iraq even if Saddam Hussein voluntarily
But Are They Guilty of War Crimes?
The Nuremberg Tribunal which convicted and
sentenced Nazis leaders to death conceived of wars of aggression - i.e. wars
not launched in self-defense -
defined the following as “crimes against peace”, or war crimes:
Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a
war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of
any of the acts mentioned under (i)
The Tribunal considered wars of aggression to be
the ultimate war crime, which
encompassed all other crimes:
To initiate a war of aggression, therefore,
is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international
crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within
itself the accumulated evil of the whole.
Judgment of October 1, 1946,
International Military Tribunal Judgment and Sentence,
22 IMTTRIALS, supra
note 7, at 498,
reprinted in 41 AM. J. INT’LL. 172, 186 (1947).
Given that Iraq had no connection with
9/11 and possessed no weapons of mass destruction, the Iraq war was a crime
of aggression and - under the standards by which Nazi leaders were convicted
by the Nuremberg Tribunal - the American leaders who lied us into that war
are guilty of war crimes.
Benjamin Ferencz, a former chief prosecutor for
the Nuremberg Trials, declared:
A prima facie case can be made that the
United States is guilty of the supreme crime against humanity - that
being an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation.
The Chief Prosecutor for the International
Criminal Court - Luis Moreno-Ocampo -
told the Sunday Telegraph in 2007:
That he would be willing to launch an
inquiry and could envisage a scenario in which the Prime Minister and
American President George W Bush could one day face charges at The
Luis Moreno-Ocampo urged Arab countries, particularly Iraq, to
sign up to the court to enable allegations against the West to be
As a Japan Times Op/Ed
noted in 2009:
In January 2003, a group of American law
professors warned President George W. Bush that he and senior officials
of his government could be prosecuted for war crimes if their military
tactics violated international humanitarian law.
Eminent legal scholars such as former
U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clarke and Dean of the Massachusetts School
of Law and a professor of law
Lawrence Velvel have since stated that high-level Bush administration
officials did commit war crimes in relation to the Iraq war.
Torture is - of course - a violation of the
Geneva Conventions, which make it illegal to inflict mental or physical
torture or inhuman treatment. It is clearly-established that
waterboarding is torture.
The torture was, in fact, systematic, and
included widespread sexual humiliation, murder and other
unambiguous forms of torture. Velvel and many other legal experts say that the
torture which was carried out after 9/11 is a
Colin Powell’s former chief of staff
Dick Cheney is guilty of war crimes for overseeing
Matthew Alexander - a former top Air Force
interrogator who led the team that tracked down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - notes
that government officials
knew they are vulnerable for war crime prosecution:
They have, from the beginning, been trying
to prevent an investigation into war crimes.
A Malaysian war crimes commission also found
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and five administration attorneys
guilty of war crimes (although but the commission has no power to
enforce its judgment).
The United States War Crimes Act of 1996, a
federal statute set forth at
18 U.S.C. § 2441, also makes it a federal crime for any U.S. national,
whether military or civilian, to violate the Geneva Convention by engaging
in murder, torture, or inhuman treatment.
The statute applies not only to those who carry
out the acts, but also to those who
ORDER IT, know about it, or fail to take steps to stop it. The statute
everyone, no matter how high and mighty.
18 U.S.C. § 2441 has no statute of limitations,
which means that a war crimes complaint can be filed at any time.
The penalty may be life imprisonment or - if
a single prisoner dies due to torture - death. Given that there are
numerous, documented cases of prisoners being tortured to death by U.S.
soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan, that means that the death penalty
would be appropriate for anyone found guilty of carrying out, ordering, or
sanctioning such conduct.
The Military Commissions Act of 2006 limited the
applicability of the War Crimes Act, but still made the following
Postscript: A similar analysis could
potentially be carried out for
Afghanistan and other countries which America has invaded since 9/11.
And indiscriminate drone strikes
may well be war crimes … even in countries against which we haven’t
officially declared war.