Summary: Neil Cavuto, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Catherine Herridge joined other Fox News figures in advancing Marc Thiessen's claim that the use of harsh interrogations techniques on Khalid Shaikh Mohammed "stopped an attack on the Library Tower." But the Bush administration has said that the attack was thwarted more than a year before Mohammed was captured.
What clinches the falsity of Thiessen's claim, however (and that of the memo he cites, and that of an unnamed Central Intelligence Agency spokesman who today seconded Thessen's argument), is chronology. In a White House press briefing, Bush's counterterrorism chief, Frances Fragos Townsend, told reporters that the cell leader was arrested in February 2002, and "at that point, the other members of the cell" (later arrested) "believed that the West Coast plot has been canceled, was not going forward" [italics mine]. A subsequent fact sheet released by the Bush White House states, "In 2002, we broke up [italics mine] a plot by KSM to hijack an airplane and fly it into the tallest building on the West Coast." These two statements make clear that however far the plot to attack the Library Tower ever got -- an unnamed senior FBI official would later tell the Los Angeles Times that Bush's characterization of it as a "disrupted plot" was "ludicrous" -- that plot was foiled in 2002. But Sheikh Mohammed wasn't captured until March 2003.
How could Sheikh Mohammed's water-boarded confession have prevented the Library Tower attack if the Bush administration "broke up" that attack during the previous year? It couldn't, of course. Conceivably the Bush administration, or at least parts of the Bush administration, didn't realize until Sheikh Mohammed confessed under torture that it had already broken up a plot to blow up the Library Tower about which it knew nothing. Stranger things have happened. But the plot was already a dead letter. If foiling the Library Tower plot was the reason to water-board Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, then that water-boarding was more than cruel and unjust. It was a waste of water.
of course the LA attack was a complete fantasy
Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism specialist who heads the Washington office of Rand Corp., said Bush's account adds some interesting detail to the Library Tower episode. But he said it still leaves key questions about the case unanswered.
"It doesn't really give us any more indication of whether this was a plot that was derailed or preempted, or a plot that was more in the realm of an idle daydream," Hoffman said.
Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (W.Va.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, mocked the idea of raising the alleged Library Tower plot. "Maybe they're tired of talking about [the] Brooklyn Bridge and they're trying to find a different edifice of some sort," he said, referring to another alleged terrorist plot that some have said was inflated by the government.
The official said he believed the Library Tower plot was one of many Al Qaeda operations that had not gone much past the conceptual stage. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying that those familiar with the plot feared political retaliation for providing a different characterization of the plan than that of the president.
Fox news, conservative politicians, and every poo head from here to Freep, are now using a time traveling boogey man whos brains have been tortured into spotted dick as a reason to defend blatant torture for reasons that no one can fully understand.