can’t we, you know, move on?

Proponents of UAVs like to talk about the “enduring stare”; their ability to remain on station, to keep pointing at the target, rather than taking discrete reels of photos. Blogging ought to be a bit like that; keep after the story, don’t accept the official news (or bullshit) cycle.

Hence, this McClatchy story, which has uncorked a whole lot of other reporting.

“The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But 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 Department document.

There’s more to it than that, as well; it seems clear that one of the motivations for torture was trying to extract supporting evidence for the Iraq war. Unsurprisingly, Dick Cheney is implicated. You wonder if he couldn’t find a way to work a tax cut and perhaps a gay abortion in there, too; it’s the grand unified scandal. But anyway, look at those dates, and also at this piece of Laura Rozen’s.

It seems there were at least two distinct waves, or bouts, of torture, the first in the summer of 2002 and then a second in the winter and early spring. There also seems to have been some overdetermination with the first, which may also have been involved with a scheme to find a leaker in Congress.

But what strikes me as interesting is that it corresponds well with the PR-driven schedule for the famous dossiers and the run-up to war in general. Recall the “Downing Street Memo”, written in late July. The facts and intelligence were being fixed around the policy. This culminated in the first coordinated spin drive in the autumn. At the same time as Abu Zubeydah was being lashed to the board, the White House Iraq Group and the Iraq Communications Group were being established to coordinate transatlantic PR operations. The first dossier would be launched in September. Interestingly, I’m seeing a spike in search requests for both organisations.

A second wave of propaganda activity was then launched in the spring as the key UN and parliamentary votes approached and the military time-table counted down. And, sure enough, there was a second bout of torture; on this occasion, extra torture was approved by Donald Rumsfeld before the authorisation was taken back.

Via the Armchair Generalist, meanwhile, it turns out that the one detainee whose words actually made it into Colin Powell’s February 2003 address to the UN, and who was tortured, has conveniently died in a Libyan jail.

Josh Marshall speaks sense; there is more here including an interview with Charles Duelfer, who apparently refused to order the torture of an Iraqi prisoner-of-war. Bully for him, if true. Few public officials can have been so Cheneyed; remember when he was being sent “leads” for the Iraq Survey Group that turned out to be in Lebanon?

Meanwhile, for colour: yer man was travelling with a doctor and a biochemical survival suit. I’d pay cash money to see him wear one of those.

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