The CIA’s interrogation techniques worked

While the Alien-in-Chief released a top secret report on the information-extracting techniques the CIA used on al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah and al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, he concealed the passages in the report that told about the disaster-preventing consequences of extracting that information. Mark Thiessen tells about it in must-read article published in yesterday’s Washington Post and today’s New York Post.

The CIA’s Questioning Worked
By Marc A. Thiessen
April 21, 2009

In releasing highly classified documents on the CIA interrogation program last week, President Obama declared that the techniques used to question captured terrorists “did not make us safer.” This is patently false. The proof is in the memos Obama made public—in sections that have gone virtually unreported in the media.

Consider the Justice Department memo of May 30, 2005. It notes that “the CIA believes ‘the intelligence acquired from these interrogations has been a key reason why al Qaeda has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West since 11 September 2001.’ … In particular, the CIA believes that it would have been unable to obtain critical information from numerous detainees, including [Khalid Sheik Mohammed] and Abu Zubaydah, without these enhanced techniques.” The memo continues: “Before the CIA used enhanced techniques … KSM resisted giving any answers to questions about future attacks, simply noting, ‘Soon you will find out.’ ” Once the techniques were applied, “interrogations have led to specific, actionable intelligence, as well as a general increase in the amount of intelligence regarding al Qaeda and its affiliates.”

Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques “led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the ‘Second Wave,’ ‘to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into’ a building in Los Angeles.” KSM later acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast. The memo explains that “information obtained from KSM also led to the capture of Riduan bin Isomuddin, better known as Hambali, and the discovery of the Guraba Cell, a 17-member Jemmah Islamiyah cell tasked with executing the ‘Second Wave.’ ” In other words, without enhanced interrogations, there could be a hole in the ground in Los Angeles to match the one in New York.

The memo notes that “[i]nterrogations of [Abu] Zubaydah—again, once enhanced techniques were employed—furnished detailed information regarding al Qaeda’s ‘organizational structure, key operatives, and modus operandi’ and identified KSM as the mastermind of the September 11 attacks.” This information helped the intelligence community plan the operation that captured KSM. It went on: “Zubaydah and KSM also supplied important information about al-Zarqawi and his network” in Iraq, which helped our operations against al-Qaeda in that country.

All this confirms information that I and others have described publicly. But just as the memo begins to describe previously undisclosed details of what enhanced interrogations achieved, the page is almost entirely blacked out. The Obama administration released pages of unredacted classified information on the techniques used to question captured terrorist leaders but pulled out its black marker when it came to the details of what those interrogations achieved.

Yet there is more information confirming the program’s effectiveness. The Office of Legal Counsel memo states “we discuss only a small fraction of the important intelligence CIA interrogators have obtained from KSM” and notes that “intelligence derived from CIA detainees has resulted in more than 6,000 intelligence reports and, in 2004, accounted for approximately half of the [Counterterrorism Center’s] reporting on al Qaeda.” The memos refer to other classified documents—including an “Effectiveness Memo” and an “IG Report,” which explain how “the use of enhanced techniques in the interrogations of KSM, Zubaydah and others … has yielded critical information.” Why didn’t Obama officials release this information as well? Because they know that if the public could see the details of the techniques side by side with evidence that the program saved American lives, the vast majority would support continuing it.

Critics claim that enhanced techniques do not produce good intelligence because people will say anything to get the techniques to stop. But the memos note that, “as Abu Zubaydah himself explained with respect to enhanced techniques, ‘brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship.” In other words, the terrorists are called by their faith to resist as far as they can—and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know. This is because of their belief that “Islam will ultimately dominate the world and that this victory is inevitable.” The job of the interrogator is to safely help the terrorist do his duty to Allah, so he then feels liberated to speak freely.

This is the secret to the program’s success. And the Obama administration’s decision to share this secret with the terrorists threatens our national security. Al-Qaeda will use this information and other details in the memos to train its operatives to resist questioning and withhold information on planned attacks. CIA Director Leon Panetta said during his confirmation hearings that even the Obama administration might use some of the enhanced techniques in a “ticking time bomb” scenario. What will the administration do now that it has shared the limits of our interrogation techniques with the enemy? President Obama’s decision to release these documents is one of the most dangerous and irresponsible acts ever by an American president during a time of war—and Americans may die as a result.

The writer, a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, served in senior positions in the Pentagon and the White House from 2001 to 2009, most recently as chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

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Ray G., who resides in the city he calls Dearbornistan, writes,

Alien in Chief?

Too funny … We have a Muslim-Marxist in the White House. Nice, real nice.

LA replies:

Well, we have to call him something. I have real difficulty in referring to him as President Obama. And Paul Nachman’s moniker for him, Wonderboy, seems insufficiently respectful of our country’s top executive.

Ray replies:

I agree. His true colors are coming out in the last week or two. Sad, really sad.

The man is what we expected of him—he grew up in and around radicals and he retains much of those influences, albeit he couches his radicalism in calm, friendly speech.

Don’t know where we go from here. “We’re Screwed ‘08” was right on the money!

Adela G. writes:

“Alien-in-Chief”? LOL!

I refer to him as “Black Narcissus”. It’s a literary reference that encompasses his most salient physical and personality traits.

(I’m afraid his spouse only qualifies for a pop culture reference which I’m too tactful to reveal—unless prompted).

As to the topic of this entry, I see no point in discussing it. We all already know on what side of the issue of the rights of society vs. the rights of the individual the left comes down. You can’t get die-hard lefties to admit there is ever a danger or threat that warrants the use or threat of torture or any other coercive means on any individual[s] in order to obtain information crucial to the safety of the nation and its citizenry. I will note only in passing the irony that it is the left that is most dependent on continued national safety.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 22, 2009 02:48 PM | Send

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