Ah, the spy game. When it comes to our national security, who better than George W. Bush and his neo-cons to oversee top secret programs? You remember GW, the man who ignored warnings of a possible attack on 9-11; the chief executive who felt it more important to read to kindergarten students when told of the attack than move to defend this country; the President who ordered Air Force One to the wrong position after the terrorists attack; and the man who raged war against the wrong country for weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist. Let's face it, this dude was in over his head. But only now are we finding out the further adventures in counter-terrorism of our former leader. Seems, according to the Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In the early years after 9/11, the CIA turned some Guantanamo Bay prisoners into double agents then sent them home to help the U.S. kill terrorists, current and former U.S. officials said.
The CIA promised the prisoners freedom, safety for their families and millions of dollars from the agency's secret accounts.
It was a risky gamble. Officials knew there was a chance that some prisoners might quickly spurn their deal and kill Americans.
For the CIA, that was an acceptable risk in a dangerous business. For the American public, which was never told, the program was one of the many secret trade-offs the government made on its behalf. At the same time the government used the risk of terrorism to justify imprisoning people indefinitely, it was releasing dangerous people from prison to work for the CIA.
The idea that infiltrating Al Qaeda to prevent more attacks is very sound. But how you do it takes some really well thought out assessment. And GW wasn't the guy to make that decision. Nor were his cohorts, Cheney and Rumsfeld.
So the pool of candidates was the Gitmo prisoners. Okay, maybe they were a logical place to start. But with all the torture and waterboarding going on, could these prisoners be trusted? What was to stop them from just lying and making it easier on themselves?
Candidates were ushered from the confines of prison to Penny Lane's (the cottages used for the double-agent trainees) relative hominess, officials said. The cottages had private kitchens, showers and televisions. Each had a small patio.
Some prisoners asked for and received pornography. One official said the biggest luxury in each cottage was the bed - not a military-issued cot but a real bed with a mattress.
The cottages were designed to feel more like hotel rooms than prison cells, and some CIA officials jokingly referred to them collectively as the Marriott.
So, those were the conditions at the Gitmo Marriott. With treatment like that, I'm sure the program was a huge success -- so many volunteers that you had to beat them off with a stick -- if you weren't already beating them with a stick.
This was sure to be a successful program.
The U.S. government says it has confirmed that about 16 percent of former Guantanamo Bay detainees rejoined the fight against America. Officials suspect but have not confirmed that another 12 percent more rejoined.
That would make for a potential of roughly 3 in 10 returned to their old ways and killed American soldiers. A 70% win rate might be good in baseball or basketball, but it sure isn't in counter-intelligence. Each mistake made there could have cost hundreds of lives. But what can you expect from these hijacked soldiers, cuffed and hooded and whisked off to the balmy shores of Cuba?
Vice President Dick Cheney called the prisoners "the worst of a very bad lot." Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said they were "among the most dangerous, best trained, vicious killers on the face of the Earth."
Now isn't that a great pool of volunteers. I guess Bush and company saw something in these truly dangerous men that the outside world might find hard to see. It must be like trying to train people to have charisma or to grow taller, or develop a discerning sense for smell.
The U.S. government had such high hopes for Penny Lane that one former intelligence official recalled discussions about whether to secretly release a pair of Pakistani men into the United States on student or business visas. The hope was that they would connect with al-Qaida and lead authorities to members of a U.S. cell.
Of course. What a great plan! Finance, arm and set up the worst of the worst on American soil, setting them free to roam among us. No risk there. That's the surest way for the Al Qaeda guys in the middle east to pick up former freedom fighter ex-patriots and enlist them to run the domestic cells here. Surely nobody in the Al Qaeda hierarchy would be suspicious that these guys who were captured in Iraq, held prisoner in Guantanamo, then set free on U.S mainland soil with walking around money might have cut a deal and been secret double agents.
George W. must have thought the masterminds of the 9-11 attack would be pretty ignorant? Maybe he was looking at a group picture of his own cabinet and thought, hey, it's worked on these idiots.
So, how successful was the genius executive branch plan for counter-intelligence, code named, Penny Lane?
There's not a single shred of evidence than any of these turned double agents provided any intel that caused a disruption in any of the Iraq war plans. So much for the Republican brain trust and the neo-cons who actually ran our country and choreographed the war.
And these are the same people, the same party, that are imploring us to not seek out a peaceful solution the the nuclear potential in Iran. Let's see, trust the administration that ended the war in Iraq, is winding down the war in Afghanistan, tracked down Bin Laden, found a peaceful means of removing Syria's chemical weapons... or the people who started the war in Iraq to start with -- over faulty intelligence or just plain lies?