OIG Report: Interrogators Threatened to Kill Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's Children

The Inspector General's 2004 Report is out and available here (pdf). Hightlights are here. (According to the AP, the correct spelling is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.)

One thing that leapt out at me was Paragraph 95 on page 43: Interrogators threatened to kill Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's children. Then there's a blacked out portion, followed by a statement that the interrogator reporting this did not believe the threat violated the law.

Do the blacked out lines refer to what they did to convince Khalid Shaikh Mohammed they could carry out the threat? In March, 2003, I wrote about the CIA's acknowledgement it had taken custody of Mohammed's sons from Pakistan to use them as leverage to get their father to talk: [More...]

The CIA has acknowledged that last September, the seven and nine year old sons of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, arrested last week and alleged to be a "mastermind" of the 9/11 attacks, were seized by Pakistani authorites, and that this weekend, the kids were turned over to the CIA and then flown to America so that the young boys could be interrogated in an undisclosed location about their father's activities and used to get their father to talk.

From the Washington Times article (no longer online)

Yousef al-Khalid, 9, and his brother, Abed al-Khalid, 7, were taken into custody in Pakistan in September when intelligence officers raided an apartment in Karachi where their father had been hiding. He fled just hours before the raid, but his two young sons, along with another senior al Qaeda member, were found cowering behind a clothes closet in the apartment.

The boys have been held by the Pakistani authorities, but this weekend they were flown to America, where they will be questioned about their father.

CIA interrogators confirmed last night that the boys were staying at a secret address where they were being encouraged to talk about their father's activities.... [Mohammed] has been told that his sons are being held and is being encouraged to divulge future attacks against the West and talk about the location of Osama bin Laden, officials said.

"His sons are important to him. The promise of their release and their return to Pakistan may be the psychological lever we need to break him."

My comments at the time:

First, let's translate. The operative and missing word from that last sentence is "safe." As in what Mohammed is really being told is that something awful will befall his sons if he doesn't cooperate. Legal? Probably. It's also morally bankrupt. But let's leave the father out of this for the moment. Our concern is the kids.

Isn't this kidnapping? How about a human rights violation? What kind of precedent does this set? Seven and nine years old -- has this Administration lost its mind?

We didn't realize that enemy combatant status was hereditary. A lawyer and a guardian ad litem should be appointed for these kids immediately. The kids should be returned home without delay to whatever family they have left. This is taking "sins of the father" to an unprecedented and unconscionable level.

By September, 2003, Fox News and the AP reported Mohammed was spilling his guts to interrogators. Did they show Mohammed videos of his children in U.S. custody, pleading with their father to talk and save them? I don't doubt it. How utterly bankrupt and deplorable.

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  • Display: Sort:
    It says that Mohammed (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 05:59:48 PM EST
    is "being encouraged" to divulge future attacks.

    "Talk or we're going to torture your children," they encouraged!

    This had better be on the list of things this special prosecutor is going to look into.  No way, nohow was this done by some "rogue" operation without authorization and approval from the highest of high levels of the Bush administration.

    Do we have any idea what's happened to those kids, where they are, etc.?

    First thing you need to realize is no (none / 0) (#5)
    by Slado on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 07:28:29 PM EST
    Bush higher up is going to have anything happen to them.

    Second thing you need to realize is probably nobody is going to have anything happen to them.

    This is political fodder for Obama's left to get worked up about to take their mind of the ball which is his lack of production on anything he promised while running for president.

    Obama knows he's losing the left so he's thrown a big piece of red meat into the pit for his supporters to chew on while he doesn't do anyhing that he promised he would.

    Eventually you'll realize that he has no intention of going after Bush and will find some excuse for why he won't go after anyone else.

    All this against the backdrop of the reality that most of the country could care less.


    You have to realize (none / 0) (#6)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 07:41:31 PM EST
    and you'll realize, and eventually you will realize--

    Don't "you'll realize" me, bub, especially based on stuff you've imagined, not anything I actually said.

    Eventually, you'll realize that pretty much nobody here fell of the turnip truck yesterday and is well aware the Obama admin has no intention of prosecuting any higher-ups in the Bush admin.

    However, it's well nigh impossible for them to prosecute or even investigate something like this incident without following the orders up the chain of command.  You do realize that, don't you?

    Whether they will have enough control over the special prosecutor and the political situation at that point to keep a prosecution from happening is an open question, IMO.  Does the name Archibald Cox ring a bell at all for you?

    Prosecution or no prosecution, it's important that the chain of command on this stuff be made a matter of public record, and going after these incidents at least makes that a possibility.

    You do realize that, don't you?


    I realize (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Slado on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 07:49:18 PM EST
    that some on the left think Bush committed war crimes.

    that some on the right thinks he's a hero

    and most in between think "shi$" happens and want to move on.

    What can't be lost is the right wing radical Pannetta's point that the justice department has had this info for 5 plus years and only now for political reasons we are going to appoint a new special prosecutor to go over ground that congress and the justice department has gone over multiple times.

    That something new is going to be discovered is not possible.   This investigation will bog down into a political partisan mess and nothing productive will come of it.

    Both sides will get worked up about it and in the end we'll get nothing for it.


    I'm not surprised (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 06:03:56 PM EST
    Getting clear confirmation of such horrors can leave me speechless, but in the case not surprised.  I wonder what Dick Cheney's daughter's excuse for this will be?

    If the President does it, it's not illegal? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Edger on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 06:21:33 PM EST
    Greenwald today:

    As a practical matter, Holder is consciously establishing as the legal baseline -- he's vesting with sterling legal authority -- those warped, torture-justifying DOJ memos.  Worse, his pledge of immunity today for those who complied with those memos went beyond mere interrogators and includes everyone, policymakers and lawyers alike:  "the Department of Justice will not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the interrogation of detainees."  Thus, as long as, say, a White House official shows that (a) the only torture methods they ordered were approved by the OLC and (b) they did not know those methods were criminal, then they would be entitled to full-scale immunity under the standard Holder announced today.

    Not the argument at all (none / 0) (#7)
    by diogenes on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 07:48:26 PM EST
    The argument about American superiority to alQaida is that the Americans do not deliberately target large numbers of civilians, whether by WTC bombing or by suicide bombings at Iraqi weddings.  When Americans kill civilians in this war it is the result of the civilians being human shields or as the result of an error in going after Taliban soldiers in bombings or in collateral damage.  Many non-AlQaida Muslims condemn the random Jihad approach of Al-Qaida in murdering numerous fellow muslims in what is more like Heath Ledger's Joker than anything else.  

    Further more (none / 0) (#9)
    by Slado on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 07:52:35 PM EST
    it defies the logic of perspective for liberals to work themselves into a lather about threatening known terrorists in an interrogation room while this administration continues the practice of bombing people with no trial from the comfort of a video game monitor.

    At least Cheney and Bush where upfront about where they drew the line.

    Obama's moral line seems to me to be very jagged and applied where it best suits him.


    It's Jack Bauer's America (none / 0) (#10)
    by shoephone on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 11:41:43 PM EST
    We just live in it.

    actually, (none / 0) (#11)
    by cpinva on Tue Aug 25, 2009 at 02:15:03 AM EST
    It's Jack Bauer's America

    it's the mafia's america: "nice kids you have there, be a shame if something were to happen to them."

    or the KGB's america, or the SS, or..............

    unfortunately, slado's correct, nothing will happen to anyone, up or down the line, unless they're stupid enough to go to another country, where they can be charged and arrested for "crimes against humanity", under international law.

    the bush administration managed, in 8 years, to destroy over 200 year's worth of efforts, by the United States, to be a better country. so much for our moral high ground.

    This is the first time (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by jondee on Tue Aug 25, 2009 at 02:48:09 PM EST
    the CIA's used underhanded, murderous, terrorist tactics?

    Seems to me Carter rubberstamped this kind of thing -- or, at least it's moral equivalent -- in the seventies in Latin America and Johnson let loose the dogs of Operation Phoenix in Vietnam in the sixties.

    The fantasy that "we" have been continually aspiring to some ideal of common decency and justice in the exercise of our foreign policy is just that: a fantasy -- with little basis in historical reality.