News Release

Debunking Trump — and his Critics — on 9/11 and Torture


Statements by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump — on post-9/11 celebrations and on torture “working” — have drawn the ire of many. However, the following experts on each of these two issues show how both Trump and many of his political detractors are missing the underlying substance:

Trump has drawn criticism for falsely claiming that “There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.” Ketcham, an investigative reporter whose work has appeared in many publications including Harper’sVanity Fair, Vice, and GQ and said today: “Trump’s ignorant conflation unwittingly opens the door for the American public to revisit one of the most important and least discussed mysteries of 9/11: the possibility that Israeli spies were tracking the hijackers prior to the attacks.” Ketcham notes that virtually none of those taking issue with Trump’s remarks are noting the underlying factual story that he seems to be conflating, or, if they are, the are not representing the facts accurately. He wrote the piece “The Israeli ‘Art Student’ Mystery” for Salon.

Ketcham has written extensively about one of the major unexplained aspects of 9/11. He wrote the piece “What Did Israel Know in Advance of the 9/11 Attacks” for Counterpunch in 2007 [PDF]. Shortly after, Ketcham was on “Democracy Now” and host Amy Goodman noted: “Freelance journalist Christopher Ketcham has just published a comprehensive piece … The article highlights various interconnected stories: the five Israeli ‘movers’ who witnesses say were cheering after the first plane struck the World Trade Center; the so-called Israeli art students who were living in concentrated areas where hijackers were living in the United States; and how two of the hijackers ended up on the watchlist weeks before 9/11.”

JASON LEOPOLD, jasonleopold at, @JasonLeopold
Trump has recently said: “Don’t kid yourself, folks. It works, okay? It works. Only a stupid person would say it doesn’t work.”

Senior investigative reporter at Vice, Leopold said today: “The problem over the last 13 years is that the general public has no idea how how torture actually ‘works.’ It doesn’t work to get information like in a fictional ‘ticking time bomb’ scenario — a terrorist would obviously just give you bad information. But, if you want to get false confessions, it absolutely works. It’s shown in notes from a CIA psychologist.” Leopold co-wrote the piece “CIA Psychologist’s Notes Reveal True Purpose Behind Bush’s Torture Program.”

Leopold also co-wrote “‘Guidebook to False Confessions’: Key Document John Yoo Used to Draft Torture Memo Released.”

He added: “Torture techniques have been used in a way to force detainees to compel them to give false confessions. The techniques would get captors full control, including getting the captives to say things that the captors wanted to hear, like ‘Iraq has WMDs’ or ‘al-Qaeda is looking to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge’ — to use these techniques to justify going into war. It’s called exploitation.”

Leopold published Abu Zubaydah’s diaries for Al Jazeera America. Leopold notes that Abu Zubaydah “personally wrote that he lied to Pakistanis and told them what they wanted to hear when they tortured him using the same techniques CIA used in order to get torture to stop.” Leopold’s books include News Junkie and The Other Abu Zubaidah: From Hopeful Immigrant to FBI Informant.

Also, see “The Phony Torture Debate: Why Trump is Wrong about Waterboarding — It’s Probably Not What You Think” by Sam Husseini, which fleshes out the case of Ibn Shaykh al-Libi, who “confessed” that Iraq had WMDs to make the torture stop.