Jonathan S. Landay at McClatchy has discovered the real reason that Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Muhammad were tortured dozens of times in the run-up to the Iraq War. It was because Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were trying to get them to say that Saddam Hussein had operational links with al-Qaeda, so as to have a firm justification for the war.
The US military has now combed through 6 million captured Iraqi government documents and has entirely failed to find any evidence of operational links between the secular Arab nationalist Baath Party and the radical fundamentalist al-Qaeda cult.
The information supplied to Landay by knowledgeable insiders is perhaps the clearest evidence yet that high officials in the Bush administration personally ordered repeated torture to be employed, and that they did so for partisan political gain rather than for national security.
See also Mark Follman’s fine essay on ‘Why Dick Cheney keeps Torturing Us.‘
On Wednesday, a teenaged suicide bomber detonated his payload inside a Sunni Arab mosque in Dhulu’iya, a one-time stronghold of radicalism. Presumably the now much reduced number of radicals are angry at local tribal leaders who defeated them and sided with the US military, and the bombing is revenge.
The mosque bombing comes in the wake of a string of such attacks in recent weeks. A suicide bombing on Monday in Sunni-majority Diyala Province to the east killed four policemen and wounded 8 US soldiers.
A UN task force headed by special envoy Steffan de Mistura concluded Wednesday that a power-sharing compromise would be best for Kirkuk. Joost Hiltermann, who knows that terrain intimately, fears that the report will be ignored by all sides, who will feel they have more to gain from fighting than from sharing. This is why I say that President Obama had best intervene directly to get a grand compromise on Kirkuk that might forestall violence, before the US loses its leverage as it draws down troops.
Al-Zaman says that the report advises against partitioning Kirkuk. That is too bad, because I personally think partitioning it would be the best solution and might avert further bloodshed.
Tensions are also running high between Arabs and Kurds in Ninevah Province, where some Kurds are boycotting the provincial government because they feel they were shortchanged in the awarding of patronage by the Sunni Arab victors.
McClatchy reports other political violence in Iraq on Wednesday:
A parked car bomb targeted the motorcade of a colonel in the Peshmerga, the Kurdish forces in the central marketplace in Zummar district, 70 km to the northwest of Mosul at 9.30 a.m. Wednesday. No casualties were reported.
A suicide car bomb targeted a checkpoint in Zummar district near Rabeia area manned by Peshmerga, the Kurdish forces at around 10 a.m. Wednesday. The checkpoint personnel waved for the driver to stop, when he didn’t they opened fire at him and the car bomb detonated at a distance from the checkpoint injuring two Peshmerga. One civilian passerby was also injured by mistake by fire from the checkpoint personnel.
– Gunmen killed a salesman in front of his shop in Al-Zihour neighborhood in eastern Mosul on Wednesday afternoon.
– A roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi patrol in Suq AlMaash neighborhood in western Mosul on Wednesday. One soldier was wounded.
Gunmen kidnapped Fayadh Yaseen, an Arab judge in Kirkuk court as he was leaving his home in Khadraa neighbourhood on his way to work Wednesday morning.
Gunmen killed engineer Tariq Mustafa, an employee of Kirkuk municipality during an attempt to kidnap him in central Kirkuk.
– Around 10 p.m. a gunman threw a grenade on an Iraqi national police check point at the high way which leads to the Ministry of Finance building in downtown Baghdad on Wednesday. One policeman was killed and three others were wounded including two civilians.
– Around 8:30 p.m. a suicide bomber detonated himself among a crowd of prayers at Al-Khulafa mosque in Dhuluiyah town (60 miles north of Baghdad). Five people were killed and 16 others were wounded, police said. ‘
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