Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Crippling The CIA

A quick follow-up to a previous post.

Former Bush speech-writer Mark Thiessen commented that Obama was recklessly endangering the USA by shutting down the CIA's interrogation program. He was attacked by an op-ed in the Washington Post which he described as the "pinnacle of near perfect ignorance". His response is an enlightening read on just how effective "enhanced interrogation" has been at keeping America safe.

An excerpt-

Zubaydah was captured in a gun battle and severely injured. The CIA arranged medical care, saving his life. After he recovered, Zubaydah provided what he thought was nominal information—including that KSM's alias was "Muktar," something our intelligence community did not know. But he soon ceased all cooperation. It was clear to his interrogators that he had received interrogation resistance training, and
the traditional methods were not working. So the CIA employed alternative interrogation techniques. And Zubaydah started talking.

He provided information that led to the capture of Ramzi bin al Shibh—one of the key plotters of the 9/11 attacks and a close associated of KSM. Bin al Shibh was the mastermind behind a plot for a follow-on attack to hijack airplanes in Europe, and fly them into Heathrow airport. Now he was off the street and the Heathrow plot was setback.

Information extracted from them both led directly to the capture of KSM himself- a man who only gave up information after being waterboarded. I strongly suggest you read the whole thing.

Now Obama has prevented the CIA from using the program to gather intelligence from terrorists who have been trained to resist traditional questioning methods. Terrorists, remember, who adhere to an ideology of "martyrdom" as a path to Paradise. It's not hard to imagine that they are resistant to softer lines of questioning. There's talk of a "ticking time bomb" scenario- would a CIA interrogator break the rules then to get the information he needed? We don't know. Perhaps a brave man would risk his career and his freedom to break the law in order to prevent another 9/11. But here's the problem- the ticking time bomb scenario is undoubtedly going to be a rare occurrence. Capturing a high-value terrorist leader with knowledge of on-going plots is not. As Thiessen amply demonstrates it can and has happened.

But now Obama has tied the hands of those questioning such a terrorist. They can no longer use techniques proven to work- so what if a terrorist is being held with knowledge of one or several terrorist plots to attack America or her allies? Well, now the CIA will not find out about it. They will not be able to track down and capture the terrorist's comrades, men who might know of the whereabouts of other high value terrorists or of other plots to commit the mass-murder of American civilians.

So the rights of foreign terrorists to be treated nicely outweigh the rights of the American people to live in safety. At least, it does according to Obama.

Personally, I'm disgusted.

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