Further Disaster: Thiessen changes story after being caught in terror attack falsehood
Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen falsely claimed in his book that it is "indisputable" that "al Qaeda has not succeeded in launching one single attack on the homeland or American interests abroad" after the CIA interrogation program began. Caught in this blatant falsehood, Thiessen responded by completely changing his claim, saying that his "point" was that "[a]fter the CIA began interrogating high-value terrorists, al-Qaeda did not succeed in carrying out any attacks of a similar scale against American interests at home or abroad."
Thiessen's false claim in book: "[I]ndisputable" that there were no successful Al Qaeda attacks against U.S. interests
Thiessen: "Indisputable" that Al Qaeda "has not succeeded in launching one single attack on the homeland or American interests abroad" since the CIA interrogations began. From Thiessen's book, Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack:
Here is statistical data that is indisputable: In the decade before the CIA began interrogating captured terrorists, al Qaeda launched repeated attacks against America: the first World Trade Center bombing, the bombing of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the attack on the USS Cole, and ultimately the attacks of September 11, 2001. In the eight years since the CIA began interrogating captured terrorists, al Qaeda has not succeeded in launching one single attack on the homeland or American interests abroad. [p. 102]
In fact, there have been Al Qaeda attacks on U.S. interests abroad since CIA interrogations began. As Media Matters for America documented in response to Thiessen's claim, several attacks on U.S. interests abroad have been blamed on Al Qaeda, including a 2004 attack on a U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a 2008 attack on a U.S. embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, a 2003 attack on a housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and a 2003 attack on a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Caught in falsehood about terrorist attacks, Thiessen changes his claim
Thiessen now: "My point" was that after interrogations began, "al-Qaeda did not succeed in carrying out any attacks of a similar scale against American interests at home or abroad." In an April 14 National Review Online blog post responding to New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer's criticism of his book, Thiessen backtracked from his claim that it is "indisputable" that since the CIA interrogation program began, "al Qaeda has not succeeded in launching one single attack on the homeland or American interests abroad." Rather, Thiessen says that his "point" was limited to a claim that Al Qaeda has not succeeded in launching attacks of "a similar scale" to previous attacks. From Thiessen's blog post:
[Mayer] does, however, dispute my claim that once the CIA took over terrorist interrogations, al-Qaeda failed to carry out another attack on the American homeland or U.S. interests abroad. While acknowledging that we did not suffer another attack on American soil, Mayer points to a string of attacks abroad - including hotel bombings that primarily targeted foreign nationals, the assassination of a USAID official, minor attacks outside the U.S. consulate in Karachi, and al-Qaeda engagements with U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Her list borders on the absurd. She includes attacks that (a) were not carried out by al-Qaeda and (b) did not target Americans (for example, she cites a 2004 attack on the Hilton Hotel in Taba, Egypt, that was carried out by Palestinian extremists targeting Israeli tourists). And citing engagements with enemy forces in combat zones ("In Iraq, the al-Qaeda faction led by Abu Mussab al Zarqawi killed hundreds of U.S. soldiers") is patently ridiculous. Obviously when U.S. armed forces invade a country and engage al-Qaeda fighters in combat, there will be counterattacks and casualties. This is a straw man.
My point was that before the CIA began interrogating high-value terrorists, al-Qaeda was on the offensive, carrying out increasingly audacious and deadly attacks - from bombings of our embassies in East Africa, to the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, and ultimately the attacks of 9/11. After the CIA began interrogating high-value terrorists, al-Qaeda did not succeed in carrying out any attacks of a similar scale against American interests at home or abroad. Assassinations and battles in combat zones have led to tragic deaths, but they are not the equivalent of blowing up two U.S. embassies or flying airplanes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.