Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The CIA isn't Jack Bauer
Some interesting thoughts on the real live practices involved in interrogating and de-briefing, among others, jihadists including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed appeared in the recent National Review article Meet the Real Jack Bauers.
The tidbits that most intrigued me were:
"...there is a difference between “interrogation” and “de-briefing.” Interrogation is not how we got information from the terrorists; it is the process by which we overcome the terrorists’ resistance and secure their cooperation — sometimes with the help of enhanced interrogation techniques.
Once the terrorist agreed to cooperate, I was told, the interrogation stopped and “de-briefing” began, as the terrorists were questioned by CIA analysts, using non-aggressive techniques to extract information that could help disrupt attacks."
"Just the experience of being brought into CIA custody — the “capture shock,” arrival at a sterile location, the isolation, the fact that they did not know where they were, and that no one else knew they were there — was enough to convince most of them to cooperate. Others, like KSM, demonstrated extraordinary resistance. But even KSM’s interrogation did not take long before he moved into debriefing. He had been captured in early March, they said, and before the end of the month he had already provided information on a plot to fly airplanes into London’s Heathrow airport."
"...interrogations involved strict oversight. There was no freelancing allowed — every technique had to be approved in advance by headquarters, and any deviation from the meticulously developed interrogation plan would lead to the immediate removal of the interrogator."
"He said that the interrogators’ credo was to use “the least coercive method necessary” and that “each of us is put through the measures so we can feel it.” He added: “It is very respectful. The detainee knows that we are not there to gratuitously inflict pain. He knows what he needs to do to stop. We see each other as professional adversaries in war.” (Indeed, Mike Hayden told me years later that K[halid] S[heikh] M[ohammed] referred to Harry as “emir” — a title of great respect in the jihadist ranks.)
Critics have charged that enhanced interrogation techniques are not effective because those undergoing them will say anything to get them to stop. Soufan, the FBI agent and CIA critic, has written: “When they are in pain, people will say anything to get the pain to stop. Most of the time, they will lie, make up anything to make you stop hurting them. . . . That means the information you’re getting is useless.”
What this statement reveals is that Soufan knows nothing about how the CIA actually employed enhanced interrogation techniques. In an interview for my book, former national-security adviser Steve Hadley explained to me, “The interrogation techniques were not to elicit information. So the whole argument that people tell you lies under torture misses the point.” Hadley said the purpose of the techniques was to “bring them to the point where they are willing to cooperate, and once they are willing to cooperate, then the techniques stop and you do all the things the FBI agents say you ought to do to build trust and all the rest.”
"CIA interrogators like Harry would ask detainees questions to which the interrogators already know the answers — allowing them to judge whether the detainees were being truthful and determine when the terrorists had reached a level of compliance."
And most interesting of all:
"Several senior officials told me that, after undergoing waterboarding, Zubaydah actually thanked his interrogators and said, “You must do this for all the brothers.” The enhanced interrogation techniques were a relief for Zubaydah, they said, because they lifted a moral burden from his shoulders — the responsibility to continue resisting." (emph. mine)
Very interesting, this last part. Even jihadists who are hardened to the murder of women and children feel the weight of God's law on their hearts, convicting them of guilt. May the Holy Spirit be pleased to bring them all to repentance, not just conviction of moral burden.