Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi…

Posted on Sunday 28 June 2009

The first high value detainee of the War on Terror, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, was captured by the Pakistanis when he tried to cross the border. He was a paramilitary trainer in the Al Khaldan training camp in Afghanistan and personally knew Osama bin Laden. After being captured, he was initially successfully interrogated by the F.B.I., but then whisked away by the C.I.A. to Egypt. He was apparently the only real source for the Administration’s repeated claims that al Qaeda had ties to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – information garnered under torture in Egypt; information the C.I.A. doubted was true; information al-Libi later recanted. When the Administration announced they were returning all the detainees from their overseas "black sites," al-Libi wasn’t in the group. Recently, he was found in a Lybian prison, where he’d been taken instead. Several weeks later, he was reported dead from suicide.

Why wasn’t al-Libi returned with the other overseas prisoners? Why was he instead in a prison in Lybia? Who made those decisions? Did he really commit suicide, or was he disposed of like the C.I.A. torture tapes? Will we ever know the answers to these questions?

As indelible as those pictures of the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers and the day of horror in New York; and as thoroughly etched on our collective psyche as the image of Osama bin Laden; the likes of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi and Abu Zubaydah will persist in the history books with equal footing. The legacy of Viet Nam is the My Lai Massacre in 1968, and we will remember Bush’s War on Terror by the pictures from Abu Ghraib, from our Extrordinary Renditions, and from John Yoo’s Torture Memos.

I still have trouble imagining how "outsourcing" torture to other countries could be viewed as a legal way to get around our own laws and international commitments. There is a legal concept called "criminal intent" [mens rea]. If I hire an assassin to kill my boss, even though I don’t do the killing [actus rea], I have the criminal intent [mens rea], so off to jail I go…
    June 28, 2009 | 7:55 AM

    This is such an important point that nobody talks about. If torture is illegal and immoral, it does not let us off the hook just because we got someone else to do it for us. Nobody believes the rationalization “we didn’t ask them to use torture.”

    With nothing but reasonable suspicions to go on, I believe that al-Libi was murdered. And the most likely cause was to prevent him from telling what they did to him.

    June 28, 2009 | 8:49 AM

    I think that too. I can’t figure the mechanism. It happened after the inauguration. I suppose someone called Lybia and activated a preconceived plan, but who?

    June 28, 2009 | 11:11 AM

    I don’t know the exact line of contact, but I’m willing to bet it leads back to Cheney.

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