In 2005 and 2006, the bearded, pudgy man who calls himself the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks discussed a wide variety of subjects, including Greek philosophy and al-Qaeda dogma. In one instance, he scolded a listener for poor note-taking and his inability to recall details of an earlier lecture.The captive terrorist took advantage of the opportunity to act like the kind of teacher who lords his power over you.
Speaking in English, Mohammed "seemed to relish the opportunity, sometimes for hours on end, to discuss the inner workings of al-Qaeda and the group's plans, ideology and operatives," said one of two sources who described the sessions, speaking on the condition of anonymity because much information about detainee confinement remains classified. "He'd even use a chalkboard at times."Does this perhaps mean that KSM was the kind of guy whose vanity and urge to dominate made him vulnerable to manipulation by non-harsh techniques? Or was it necessary to humiliate him in order to generate an overwhelming hunger to be admired by his captors? (I don't mean to suggest that I know the answers to these questions. I am simply asking them.) The CIA report does call him "an accomplished resistor," who offered little before "he was subjected to an escalating series of coercive methods, culminating in 7 1/2 days of sleep deprivation, while diapered and shackled, and 183 instances of waterboarding."
Mohammed provided the CIA with an autobiographical statement, describing a rebellious childhood, his decision to join the Muslim Brotherhood as a teenager, and his time in the United States as a student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, from where he graduated in 1986 with a degree in mechanical engineering.Here's a question for Andrew Sullivan, who flaunts his morality but nevertheless thinks it's okay to toss around the expression "Ann Althouse's pro-torture blog": What do you think made KSM view the US as debauched? I doubt if it was our support of harsh interrogation techniques — whether you use the word "torture" for that or not. I assume it was — in part — the liberty and equality — incomplete though it may be — that women and gay people experience. He wanted to mass-murder us because of that. I'm predicting that Sullivan's answer to my question will be to call me "pro-torture" for asking — that is, not to answer. He's an accomplished
"KSM's limited and negative experience in the United States -- which included a brief jail stay because of unpaid bills -- almost certainly helped propel him on his path to becoming a terrorist," according to the intelligence summary. "He stated that his contact with Americans, while minimal, confirmed his view that the United States was a debauched and racist country."
Mohammed provided $1,000 to Ramzi Yousef, a nephew, to help him carry out the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. In 1994, he worked in the Philippines with Yousef, now serving a life sentence at the federal "supermax" prison in Colorado, on a failed plot to down 12 U.S. commercial aircraft over the Pacific."[R]ound up operatives both in the United States and abroad... build a list of 70 individuals..." That doesn't say that 70 individuals were rounded up, only that 70 were on the list.
Mohammed told interrogators it was in the Philippines that he first considered using planes as missiles to strike the United States. He took the idea to Osama bin Laden, who "at first demurred but changed his mind in late 1999," according to the summary.
Mohammed described plans to strike targets in Saudi Arabia, East Asia and the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks, including using a network of Pakistanis "to target gas stations, railroad tracks, and the Brooklyn bridge in New York." Cross-referencing material from different detainees, and leveraging information from one to extract more detail from another, the CIA and FBI went on to round up operatives both in the United States and abroad.
"Detainees in mid-2003 helped us build a list of 70 individuals -- many of who we had never heard of before -- that al-Qaeda deemed suitable for Western operations," according to the CIA summary.
Mohammed told interrogators that after the Sept. 11 attacks, his "overriding priority" was to strike the United States, but that he "realized that a follow-on attack would be difficult because of security measures." Most of the plots, as a result, were "opportunistic and limited," according to the summary....Without KSM's cooperation, what would have happened? Do those who think he shouldn't have been broken truly vividly picture a second 9/11 level attack, then a third, then a fourth, then a fifth, and so on? I understand wanting to say that morality is absolute and these techniques debase us, undermine who we are (or who we are supposed to be), and should therefore never be used. But where would the people of this country would be if those additional attacks had occurred? I don't think they'd even listen to the kind of criticisms of the techniques that we are hearing now, in our comfortable world where the CIA did what it did to KSM. What then?
Mohammed was an unparalleled source in deciphering al-Qaeda's strategic doctrine, key operatives and likely targets, the summary said, including describing in "considerable detail the traits and profiles" that al-Qaeda sought in Western operatives and how the terrorist organization might conduct surveillance in the United States.
ADDED: Andrew Sullivan's post, linked above, says: "A commenter on Ann Althouse's pro-torture blog reminds readers what the Washington Post chose to omit from its story - KSM's debriefing from the Red Cross." And then he's got a quote that is in the Washington Post story! Maybe next time, Andrew, read the source material before you trash it. And don't just rely on the random Althouse blog commenter!