Earlier this month, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, revealed that the reason why detainee Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was waterboarded was not to prevent another terrorist attack, but to unearth “a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa’ida.” This false confession was later used by Powell in his infamous February 2003 U.N. speech making the case for the Iraq war. On Sunday, blogger Sam Husseini asked Powell about al-Libi. In a tense exchange, Powell refused to talk about the detainee, saying, “I don’t have any details on the al-Libi case:”
Q: Your chief of staff, Wilkerson, has written about this.
POWELL: So what? [inaudible]
Q: So you’d think you’d know about it.
POWELL: The information I presented to the UN was vetted by the CIA. Every word came from the CIA and they stood behind all that information. I don’t know that any of them believe that torture was involved. I don’t know that in fact. A lot of speculation, particularly by people who never attended any of these meetings, but I’m not aware of it.
A recent Senate Intelligence committee report concluded that al-Libi lied about the link “to avoid torture.” “They were killing me,” al-Libi told the FBI about his interrgators. “I had to tell them something.”