Last week, former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen penned a vitriolic op-ed in the Washington Post, arguing that if there is another terror attack, “Americans will hold Obama responsible.” Greg Sargent noted that on the same day, Thiessen called President Obama “the most dangerous man ever to occupy the Oval Office.”
Today, in an interview on WAMU’s Diane Rehm Show, Thiessen again lashed out at Obama, this time for Obama’s executive order closing Guantanamo. “I think this is the most dangerous decision that any president has made within 48 hours of his inauguration,” he said, saying that torture is “singularly responsible” for stopping attacks on the U.S. Thiessen listed a long chain of events that were all allegedly sourced to the torture of Abu Zubaydah:
THIESSEN: The CIA developed these alternative interrogation techniques, and all of a sudden he started talking. Zubaydah’s information led us to Ramsey bin al Shibh, who was was one of the 9/11 hijackers. Together, they gave us the information that led the capture of KSM. Then, KSM gave us information about another al Qaeda operative, Majid Khan, who was in CIA custody. He told us that Majid Khan had been tasked to give $50,000 to an operative named Zubair, who was developing plots with a Southeast Asian group called JI.
Later, Thiessen bristled in response to a conversation about investigating Bush administration officials for torture. Bush’s torturers, he said, are really “American heroes”:
THIESSEN: They’re not torturers. They’re heroes. … And the thought that we’re sitting here discussing whether these people should be prosecuted or investigated is just outrageous. These people are American heroes who saved lives and stopped the next Sept. 11.
Zubaydah’s torture is a textbook example of why coercive interrogations do not work. Zubaydah was reportedly driven mentally insane from his torture, and Canadians tossed out evidence from the CIA’s interrogations of Zubaydah. In fact, from Zubaydah’s interrogations, the U.S. gleaned false information about links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.
In calling Bush’s torturers “heroes,” Thiessen is echoing Bill Kristol, who suggested in November that the “CIA agents who waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammad” receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.