Friday, May 29, 2009

Now That's Inhanced Interrogation

When it comes to "interrogation techniques" here's an enhancement that I can support. The suspected terrorist, Abu Jandal, was Osama bin Laden's bodyguard, and one very tough customer. So how do you make him talk?:

Abu Jandal had been in a Yemeni prison for nearly a year when Ali Soufan of the FBI and Robert McFadden of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service arrived to interrogate him in the week after 9/11. Although there was already evidence that al-Qaeda was behind the attacks, American authorities needed conclusive proof, not least to satisfy skeptics like Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, whose support was essential for any action against the terrorist organization. U.S. intelligence agencies also needed a better understanding of al-Qaeda's structure and leadership. Abu Jandal was the perfect source: the Yemeni who grew up in Saudi Arabia had been bin Laden's chief bodyguard, trusted not only to protect him but also to put a bullet in his head rather than let him be captured.

Abu Jandal's guards were so intimidated by him, they wore masks to hide their identities and begged visitors not to refer to them by name in his presence. He had no intention of cooperating with the Americans; at their first meetings, he refused even to look at them and ranted about the evils of the West. Far from confirming al-Qaeda's involvement in 9/11, he insisted the attacks had been orchestrated by Israel's Mossad. While Abu Jandal was venting his spleen, Soufan noticed that he didn't touch any of the cookies that had been served with tea: "He was a diabetic and couldn't eat anything with sugar in it." At their next meeting, the Americans brought him some sugar-free cookies, a gesture that took the edge off Abu Jandal's angry demeanor. "We had showed him respect, and we had done this nice thing for him," Soufan recalls. "So he started talking to us instead of giving us lectures."

It took more questioning, and some interrogators' sleight of hand, before the Yemeni gave up a wealth of information about al-Qaeda — including the identities of seven of the 9/11 bombers — but the cookies were the turning point. "After that, he could no longer think of us as evil Americans," Soufan says. "Now he was thinking of us as human beings."

Yup, sugar-free cookies. Humane treatment and cookies can break even the toughest terrorist. Not waterboarding, or any of the other 'Jack Bauer' crap. Because even terrorists like cookies.

(Added on Sunday: Now in - time magazine. Maybe I can get a pro gig someday.)


Mahakal / महाकाल said...

And the comfy chair isn't such a bad idea.

Paul Solomon said...

Abu Jandal is a diabetic, and he gave up valuable information about al Qaeda, including the identities of seven of the 9/11 terrorists, after being given sugar-free cookies. But what about the "ticking time-bomb scenario?" We only have minutes to stop the hypothetical ticking time-bomb, as seen in movies and TV shows like "24". In this case, let's say we don't have access to baked goods. Recent reports indicate that interrogators used bottled water to torture terrorist suspects. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. In other words, the first 182 times were unsuccessful, and the 183rd gave us this information: A water bottle was brought in without the label removed, he told the Red Cross, and it was a brand made in Poland, where he was being held at the time. In other words, interrogators used what was available and easily accessible. Interrogators, if they are in a critical worst-case scenario where every second counts, have to use whatever methods are available, the theory goes, and waterboarding is quick and easy. All they have to do is reach in the refrigerator and grab a cold one. And 2-liter bottles of 7-up reportedly work just as effectively. An executive order signed by President Obama, however, requires interrogators to follow what's known as the "Army Field Manual," which prohibits waterboarding and other forms of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" favored by Cheney. The "Army Field Manual" outlines 19 interrogation techniques permitted by law. Those techniques which are allowed include lying, misleading, and manipulating - common police procedure. So Abu Jandal could have been given cookies containing sugar. The interrogator merely had to lie that they contained no sugar. Of course, Abu Jandal would have gone into a diabetic coma, which puts it into a gray area as to whether it would be considered torture. So, just to be safe, the "Army Field Manual" should be amended to include baked goods, including those without sugar. Oh, and how about some ice cream too.