Monday, November 16, 2009

Matthew Alexander

I've heard Matthew Alexander on talk radio, discussing interrogation techniques.  His theme is summed up in his subtitle: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq".
"This Ain't Hell" has a piece that examines "the two sides" of the person who uses the pseudonym "Matthew Alexander":
Alexander didn't use his real name to author the book or do his book tour. According to Alexander, his name was sealed in a court order for his protection. Of course, a puny DC District court order doesn't affect the crack research staff of This Ain't Hell. Here's his DD214;

Something I began to notice when I got his DD214 and after reading his book (about 4 times) is that this Matthew Alexander is quite different from the Matthew Alexander I saw in his interviews. This is a very studly record for an Air Force Officer, and the book is an excellent story about an aspect of the war in Iraq that's not often discussed. I highly recommend the book…from your local library. Unfortunately, any money you pay for the book will go into the pocket of the Matthew Alexander who was on the book tour. That Matthew Alexander is a liar and has an agenda.


Obviously, Olbermann didn't read the book, or if he did, he didn't mind that Alexander lied about what he wrote in the book. In the interview, Alexander said he'd convinced the terrorist to give up Zarqawi in six hours. In the book, he wrote that it took weeks.

In the interview, Alexander says that he used interrogation techniques in Iraq that the military isn't using, however, throughout the book, he credits his instructors at the "Schoolhouse" (his word) for teaching him these new techniques. But in one brief paragraph he says he talked religion with a terrorist which would have made his instructors at the "Schoolhouse", to use his phrase, "shit bricks" - so I have to assume that the whole book is about that one little conversation since that's the only time he deviated from his training by his own admission.

Now, Matthew Alexander tells us to take his book and his story at face value - that we shouldn't question his methods because he was the man on the ground. But here he interviews again with with Keith Olbermann in April, and based strictly on the general, non-specific information that Olbermann provides, Alexander spends five minutes second-guessing interrogation methods used in operations for which he wasn't present and he labels them "failures";

In the first interview, he tells us that he's looking to the future and not interested in placing blame anywhere - yet here he is, dwelling in the past and placing blame on other interrogators.


In this video interview, Alexander tells Jon Stewart that he hides his name, not because he's scared of terrorists finding out who he is, but rather because he's afraid of the military.

Now why would he be afraid of the military, unless he's not telling the truth? Also in the interview Alexander says that he gives examples of his fellow interrogators using torture. That's not true - the only thing he mentions in the book is one incident in which a colleague pounds the table with his fists and another story about something he heard another interrogator had done before Alexander got to the unit. Lucky for Alexander no one read his book.

A few months ago, Alexander changed his story about why he used a pseudonym to write the book. He told an interviewer from the Spy Museum that it was protect his family from al Qaeda. So I guess he was just afraid of the military while the Bush Administration was running it. More accurately, he's probably afraid that his fellow interrogators will find out his real name.

I made the mistake of watching the interviews before I read the book. When I was about halfway through the book, I wondered if I had the right book because it read nothing like what I heard in the interviews Alexander had done on TV. In the interviews he did, Alexander constantly made the point that he was using techniques that no one else had ever employed in this war, but throughout the book, he compares the techniques he learned from the "Schoolhouse" to those being used by some in his prison. In other words, the military was teaching the methods he used, but a few interrogators weren't using them. That doesn't make the military wrong nor does it verify that we had "policy of torture" during the Bush years, it just makes some interrogators untrainable.


Lately, Alexander has allied himself with the ACLU joining The Torture Project to bore through Bush Era documents relating to torture. I suspect that he's doing it because he needs money (his book did poorly among the Liberals - if you meet a Liberal who said he read the book, he's probably lying). However, he says it's because of the Bush Administration's legacy of torture and abuse. In the Huffington Post, he wrote;

First, VP Cheney said, "This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately… it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do." He further stated, "It is much closer to the truth that terrorists hate this country precisely because of the values we profess and seek to live by, not by some alleged failure to do so." That is simply untrue. Anyone who served in Iraq, and veterans on both sides of the aisle have made this argument, knows that the foreign fighters did not come to Iraq en masse until after the revelations of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. I heard this from captured foreign fighters day in and day out when I was supervising interrogations in Iraq.

He heard it from captured foreign fighters who he admits in the book lied to him on a minute-by-minute basis - but they're telling the truth about this particular subject. He echoed the same sentiment in another Huffington Post article;


I haven't told you Alexander's real name because I'm not sure if he's still in the military. Obviously, he has a talent for interrogating our enemies and I don't want to be the reason he stops doing that if he's still in the military. I found a promotion announcement on the internet that reports that he's on the LTC list and scheduled for promotion next June, yet somehow we got his military records so I have to sort that out. Just by knowing his real name, I was able to find his immediate family in about five minutes, so I'm not going to be the guy that puts his family in danger if any exists.

I will, however, provide his real name and his complete unredacted records to anyone who emails me through my AKO account (where I can verify your identity). If you don't know what an AKO account is, you don't have one.

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