Friday, October 24, 2008

book notes

The Dark Side by Jane Mayer

"Powell concluded that Bush was not stupid but easily manipulated. A confident said that Powell thought it was easy to play on Bush's wish to be seen as doing the tough thing and making the 'hard' choice. . .Cheney knew exactly how to push all his buttons."

Cheney's legal counsel, David Addington, controlled all the paper flow to Bush on national security and would sometimes change proposed laws wholesale before they reached Bush. Bush was not trained or inclined to looking at the details of what he was signing.

Bush ordered the CIA in charge of interrogations even though the FBI had most of the experience in interrogating Islamic extremists (the FBI was also opposed to torture). The CIA put on contract as its chief interogator a retired military psychologist James Mitchell who had never conducted an interrogation, knew no Arabic, and admitted to knowing practically nothing about Islam or the Middle East. His previous career was in preparing U.S. soldiers for the torture they would encounter if captured. But these turture techniques, which he now turned onto terror suspects, were designed to elicit false confessions from caputred soldiers for propaganda. They weren't designed to get real information.