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March 17, 2007

The Confession Backfired


by Paul Craig Roberts

The first confession released by the Bush regime's Military Tribunals that of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has discredited the entire process. Writing in Jurist, Northwestern University law professor Anthony D'Amato likens Mohammed's confession to those that emerged in Stalin's show trials of Bolshevik leaders in the 1930s.

That was my own immediate thought. I remember speaking years ago with Soviet dissident Valdimir Bukovsky about the behavior of Soviet dissidents under torture. He replied that people pressed for names under torture would try to remember the names of war dead and people who had passed away. Those who retained enough of their wits under torture would confess to an unbelievable array of crimes in an effort to alert the public to the falsity of the entire process.

That is what Mohammed did. We know he was tortured, because his response to the obligatory question about his treatment during his years of detention is redacted. We also know that he was tortured, because otherwise there is no point for the US Justice (sic) Dept. memos giving the green light to torture or for the Military Commissions Act, which permits torture and death sentences based on confessions extracted by torture.

Mohammed's confession of crimes and plots is so vast that Katherine Shrader of the Associated Press reports that the Americans who extracted Mohammed's confession do not believe it either. It is exaggerated, say Mohammed's tormentors, and must be taken with a grain of salt.

In other words, the US torture crew, reveling in their success, played into Mohammed's hands. Pride goes before a fall, as the saying goes.

Mohammed's confession admits to 31 planned and actual attacks all over the world, including blowing up the Panama Canal and assassinating presidents Carter and Clinton and the Pope. Having taken responsibility for the whole ball of wax along with everything else that he could imagine, he was the entire show. No other terrorists needed.

Reading responses of BBC listeners to Mohammed's confession reveals that the rest of the world is either laughing at the US government for being so stupid as to think that anyone anywhere would believe the confession or damning the Bush regime for being like the Gestapo and KGB.

Humorists are having a field day with the confession: "'I'm a very dangerous mastermind,' said Mohammed, who confessed to the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, the Brink's robbery, St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and the Lincoln and McKinley assassinations. Mohammed also accepted responsibility for spreading hay fever and cold sores around the world and for rained out picnics."

If there was anything remaining of the Bush regime not already discredited, Mohammed's confession removed any reputation left.

The most important part of the Mohammed story is yet to make the headlines. Despite having held and tortured hundreds of detainees for years in Gitmo, and we don't know how many more in secret prisons around the world, the US government has come up with only 14 "high value detainees."

In other words, the government has nothing on 99 percent of the detainees who allegedly are so dangerous and wicked that they must be kept in detention without charges, access to attorneys and contact with families.

And little wonder. The vast majority of detainees, alleged "enemy combatants," are not terrorists captured by the CIA and brave US troops. They are hapless persons who happened to be outside their tribal or home territories and were kidnapped by criminal gangs or warlords who profited greatly at the expense of the naive Americans who offered bounties for "terrorists."

The US government does not care that innocent people have been ensnared, because the US government desperately needs both to prove that there are vast numbers of terrorists and to demonstrate its proficiency in protecting Americans by capturing terrorists. Moreover, the US government needs "dangerous suspects" that it can use to keep Americans in a state of supine fearfulness and as a front behind which to undermine constitutional protections and the Bill of Rights.

The Bush-Cheney Regime succeeded in its evil plot, only to throw it all away by releasing the ridiculous confession by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Will Bush's totalitarian Military Tribunal now execute Mohammed on the basis of his confession extracted by torture, or would this be seen everywhere on earth as nothing but an act of murder?

If Bush can't have Mohammed murdered, the US government will have to shut Mohammed away where he cannot talk and tell his tale. The US government will have to replicate Orwell's memory hole by destroying Mohammed's mind with mind-altering drugs and abuse.

It is to such depths that George Bush and Dick Cheney have lowered America.


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    Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and contributing editor of National Review. He is author or co-author of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon chair in political economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and senior research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury's Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell.

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