Tales from the Trail

Former CIA clandestine chief in memoir to explain why interrogation videos destroyed

Jose Rodriguez, the former director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service who landed in controversy over ordering the destruction of videotapes of terrorism suspects being interrogated, is writing a book in which he will explain why for the first time.

Rodriguez is unabashed that enhanced interrogation techniques used on top al Qaeda operatives produced information that ultimately led to Osama bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. forces last weekend.

“The actions we took in the aftermath of 9/11 were harsh but necessary and effective. These steps were fully sanctioned and carefully followed.  The detention and interrogation of top terrorists like Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and Abu Faraj al-Libbi yielded breakthroughs which have kept this country safe,” Rodriguez said in a press release.

The Justice Department decided last year that no CIA personnel would face criminal charges for the 2005 destruction of hundreds of hours of videotapes of harsh interrogations of terrorism suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding and it was believed that the tapes included footage of that.

“Hard Measures” is scheduled for release in spring 2012 and is to be co-authored by former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, who also co-authored former CIA Director George Tenet’s book.

Bush, Cheney meet for first time since leaving office

Former President George W. Bush and his former vice president, Dick Cheney, got together Thursday for the first time since they left office in January 2009.

The meeting took place at Cheney’s house in McLean, Virginia, just three days after the former vice president suffered a mild heart attack and was hospitalized overnight. An ABC News camera captured the moment.
BUSH
“Mr. President, welcome,” Cheney said as Bush stepped from the back of a sport utility vehicle.

“Looking good,” Bush said.

“Holding up alright,” Cheney replied.

“Looking good,” the former president said again as the two shook hands warmly.

Bomb plot thrusts Obama into political storm

President Barack Obama is weathering a political storm over last month’s suspected al Qaeda plot to bomb a Detroit-bound plane, particularly from Republicans who say he dropped the ball on security while pursuing healthcare and climate reforms. But how much substance there is behind the allegations may depend on who’s talking.

Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina told NBC’s Today show that he believes Obama just woke up to the gravity of the al Qaeda threat. SECURITY-AIRLINE/OBAMA

“A lot of us have been concerned over the last year that the president did seem to downplay the threat of terror. He doesn’t use the word anymore. He hesitates to say that there is a war on terror,” DeMint said.

Calls growing for Congress to investigate Fort Hood gunman

hood2Amid the growing calls for congressional investigations into the Fort Hood rampage, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton is advocating a different approach — wait and see how investigations by the Army and the FBI progress.

“It is important that we get to the bottom of this incident, but we must be careful to proceed in a deliberate, studied manner that will not interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI and the Army’s criminal investigative service, Skelton, a Missouri Democrat, said on Tuesday. “Right now, we need to avoid jumping to any conclusions and give the Army and the FBI a chance to do their jobs.”

Calls for lawmakers to find answers came almost immediately
after 13 people were killed in a  shooting rampage at the Army post last week.

Obama, McCain camps spar over bin Laden comment

binladen.jpgCHICAGO – Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s campaign is attacking rival Barack Obama for saying that if al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is caught, the United States should avoid making him into a martyr.
    
Allies to McCain have suggested the comment shows the Democratic candidate opposes the death penalty for bin Laden — an interpretation the Obama campaign says is false.
    
The Illinois senator was asked on Wednesday how he would proceed if bin Laden were captured. He said he was not sure if bin Laden would be caught alive because of shoot-to-kill orders.
 
Concerning how to try the al Qaeda leader, Obama said it was important “to do it in a way that allows the entire world to understand the murderous acts that he’s engaged in and not to make him into a martyr and to be sure that the United States government is abiding by the basic conventions that would strengthen our hand in the broader battle against terrorism.”
    
McCain adviser Randy Scheunemann seized on the word martyr.
 
“Now, the last time I checked the definition of martyr, it’s someone who dies for a cause or is killed for a cause and it seems to be that Sen. Obama is ruling out capital punishment for Osama bin Laden were he to be captured alive under U.S. jurisdiction,” he said.
 
The Obama campaign said that interpretation was wrong and noted Obama is on record saying he believed bin Laden “would qualify for the death penalty.”
    
When he spoke about bin Laden on Wednesday, Obama cited the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals after World War II as an example of how the United States “advanced a set of universal principles” in bringing to justice people who committed heinous acts.
    
After the Nuremberg proceedings, 10 top Nazi figures were hanged following the main trials and several dozen lower-lever figures were hanged following other trials.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage: http:www.reuters.com/globalcoverage/2008candidates

Photo credit: Reuters Afghanistan stringer (Bin Laden speaks at news conference in Afghanistan in 1998)