The CIA repeatedly — and falsely — claimed that torture kept the Brooklyn Bridge safe, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report.
In briefing materials, the CIA claimed that it was the torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) that led to the capture of Iyman Faris, an Ohio truck driver who later pled guilty to trying to blow up the Bridge. National Review cited the case in its article, “waterboarding has its benefits.”
But the Senate report stated:
“Over a period of years, the CIA provided the “identification,” “arrest,” “capture,” “investigation,” and “prosecution” of Iyman Faris as evidence for the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.
These representations were inaccurate.
Iyman Faris was identified, investigated, and linked directly to al-Qa’ida prior to any mention of Iyman Faris by KSM or any other CIA detainee. When approached by law enforcement, Iyman Faris voluntarily provided information and made self-incriminating statements. On May 1, 2003, Iyman Faris pied guilty to terrorism-related charges and admitted “to casing a New York City bridge for al Qaeda, and researching and providing information to al Qaeda regarding the tools necessary for possible attacks on U.S. targets.”
Indeed, at one point a CIA official cautioned that the continued use of Faris as an example would end up embarrassing them.
“TC Legal, expressed concern that “the examples cited, while true, and perhaps as far as we can go, are not… striking examples of lives saved.” Referencing KSM’s reporting on Iyman Faris, noted that “we risk making ourselves look silly if the best we can do is the Brooklyn Bridge – perhaps we should omit specific examples rather than ‘damn ourselves with faint praise.'”
Another CIA official mocked the seriousness of the Bridge plot:
“A senior CIA counterterrorism official, who had previously served a chief of the Bin Ladin Unit, commented on the intelligence obtained from Iyman Faris on the Brooklyn Bridge plotting, stating: “i guess we have to take these guys at their word, but if these are the types of attacks ksm was planning, [KSM] was more of a nuisnace [sic] than a threat and you have to wonder how he ever thought of anything as imaginative as the 11 sept attacks. i wonder if he had two tracks going: ops like 11 sept and a whole other series half-baked, secular palestinian-style ops like those majid khan, faris, and the other yahoos are talking about. perhaps he believe [sic] if we caught the yahoos, we would relax a bit and they would be better able to hit us with an effective attack?”