Maddow interviews Duelfer and Windrem

by Jon Mandle on May 15, 2009

On her show last night, Rachel Maddow provided a genuine service. [tip: TPM] She reviewed Bush Administration claims about the link between al-Qaeda and Iraq (with clips) and ran that alongside a time line concerning the use of torture. This took about six minutes. Then she interviewed Charles Duelfer, former head of the Iraq Survey Group, who says that “Washington” suggested using stronger interrogation techniques against an already cooperative Iraqi official, and Robert Windrem, who reports that two sources confirmed to him: 1. the suggestion was to use waterboarding; 2. it came from the Vice President’s office; 3. the purpose was to find a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq.

Duelfer doesn’t exactly say that he was told to find a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq. But that’s the strong suggestion of his comments, and he doesn’t object when Maddow draws that inference. (He does object to the characterization of his being ordered to use more aggressive techniques. It was more of a suggestion – one which was not acted on.)

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Historic Compromises

by Henry Farrell on May 15, 2009

I was at a conference in Italy last week, where I read as much as I can about last Saturday’s meeting, brokered by Giorgio Napolitano, Italy’s President, between the widows of Giuseppe Pinelli (who, after three days of interrogation without food or sleep, either fell to his death from a window in the Milan magistracy or was pushed) and Luigi Calabresi (the magistrate who was interrogating Pinelli, and who was himself murdered a couple of years later). This hasn’t gotten any attention in the English speaking press that I can see. Still, it was a very significant event in Italian politics – an attempt by some of the parties at least to draw a close to Italy’s ‘years of lead,’ in which leftist unrest, kidnappings and murders went together with brutal state repression and tacit state help for fascists who organized large scale terrorist bombings to create the enabling conditions for a coup.1 And it is particularly interesting to me because I’ve just finished reading Phil Edwards‘s fascinating account of one very poorly understood aspect of this period – “the birth of the Autonomist left”:, and its relationship both with terrorist groups (my term, not Phil’s) and the Italian Communist Party. This is, to say the least, a very well timed publication (although Manchester University Press’s decision to print it only in an expensive and difficult-to-find hardback edition, is arguably rather less well judged). [click to continue…]