Wilkerson Responds -- Sort Of
2:09 PM, May 15, 2009 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
Larry Wilkerson, via Spencer Ackerman at The Washington Independent, tries to respond to my criticism of his new story alleging that Vice President Cheney authorized waterboarding in order to generate phony intelligence connecting Saddam's regime to al Qaeda. Wilkerson's response does nothing to salvage his empty account, which has already been uncritically repeated by the press.
Wilkerson's response is somewhat incoherent and he offers up his own brew of strawmen and rambling non sequiturs. So, I'll copy the entire two paragraphs of Wilkerson's response to me, as relayed by Ackerman:
Let's take Wilkerson's rambling response piece by piece.
I note that Wilkerson offers no rebuttal to my main point, which is that his basic timeline does not work. In fact, he does not offer any rebuttal to any of the points I made. Wilkerson argues that Vice President Cheney authorized waterboarding (by a foreign intelligence service, mind you), to get intelligence connecting Saddam's regime to al Qaeda in "April and May 2002" and that the waterboarding did not stop until Ibn Shaykh al-Libi "revealed such contacts." The problem is that Ibn Shaykh al-Libi told his interrogators - in February 2002 - that al Qaeda operatives had been sent to Iraq for training, and the DIA filed a report saying it did not trust his testimony that same month.
That is, al Libi's testimony, which Wilkerson says stopped the waterboarding, happened two months prior to when Wilkerson claims the waterboarding was authorized in the first place.
Nothing in Wilkerson's response changes those basic facts or even begins to approach a rebuttal to them. Instead, he ends by writing: "Who says the Egyptians tortured al-Libi in Feb 2002? I'm prepared to modify my views if that can be proved. But not by much because that is a minor part of my position."
This is not a "minor part" of his story - it goes to the heart of what he is saying because his whole story falls apart when compared to the basic, known facts. His whole timeline is quite clearly wrong. Also, I did not argue that the Egyptians "tortured al-Libi in Feb 2002," nor did I say that anyone else made such an argument. This is a non sequitur. I think it is safe to assume that al Libi was roughed up by the Egyptians - they don't treat terrorists with kid gloves. I do not know whether their treatment of al Libi amounted to torture or not, and neither does Wilkerson.