Former FBI Interrogator: Cheney Owes Obama an Apology

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/truthout/4279076431/sizes/z/in/photostream/">Truthout</a>/Flickr

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*After speaking at an event at the New America Foundation Tuesday, former FBI agent Ali Soufan weighed in on former Vice President Dick Cheney’s call for President Barack Obama to apologize for its past criticism of Bush-era practices. Soufan thought it should be the other way around. “I think if Mr. Cheney wanted to apologize for not getting [Osama] bin Laden, for not getting the top leadership of al Qaeda, for the enhanced interrogation techniques that have caused more problems than anything else, the address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” he said.

Soufan, who is promoting his new book, The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda, was one of only a handful of fluent Arabic speakers in the FBI when the 9/11 attacks occurred. He became a high profile critic of the Bush administration’s use of torturous interrogation techniques after leaving the bureau. 

In The Black Banners, Soufan recalls an incident in which FBI Director Robert Mueller refers to Soufan as “the future of the FBI,” implying that native Arabic speakers will be crucial to the fight against terrorism. Yet Soufan reiterated that the bureau, which has recently faced criticism from Muslim groups over its use of Anti-Muslim counterterrorism training materials, was still struggling with finding recruits in the American Muslim community.

Asked why that was the case, Soufan said, “I wish I could tell you, I have no idea. I think many Arab Americans today when they go to the FBI, they think of them as subjects not as [potential] agents, I think that’s a big problem that we have to work on and we have to fix.”

Although initially opposed to a “torture commission,” Soufan said that he’d come around to the idea that torture should be re-examined. “We need to tell the American people once and for all, was this effective?”

*Clarification: Soufan offered the answer in response to a question from me, not during his speech.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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