Friday, December 09, 2005

Al Qaeda-Iraq Link Coerced

Captive made false statements to avoid being treated harshly.

The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and al-Qaida on detailed statements made by a prisoner in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials.

The New York Times reports that the "new disclosure provides the first public evidence that bad intelligence on Iraq may have resulted partly from the administration's heavy reliance on third countries to carry out interrogations of al-Qaida members and others detained as part of U.S. counterterrorism efforts. The Bush administration used Libi's accounts as the basis for its prewar claims, now discredited, that ties between Iraq and al-Qaida included training in explosives and chemical weapons.

"The fact that Libi recanted after the U.S. invasion of Iraq and that intelligence based on his remarks was withdrawn by the CIA in March 2004 has been public for more than a year. But U.S. officials had not previously acknowledged either that Libi made the false statements in foreign custody or that Libi contended that his statements had been coerced."

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