Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Inquisitors

Mark Bowden has an account in the Atlantic (unfortunately accessible by subscription only) describing how Task Force 145 interrogators or "gators" at Balad Airbase got prisoners in their custody to answer the question "where is Zarqawi?", the answer to which led directly to the AQI chief's demise. The drama revolved around two of Zarqawi's captured lieutenants, one of whom was not who he seemed to be yet guarded an important secret. The time left to the interrogators was short; the detainees were scheduled to be processed out to another holding facility. Task Force 145 had to assemble all the pieces of the puzzle and separate the misdirection from the truth.

There was no question of using coercive methods. But the interrogators could still build an alternative reality in the prisoners minds which they peopled with vague fears, plots, promises and imaginary drama. And in the make believe world that they shared with the prisoners the interrogators would have to find the answer to their questions.

Still, even though he clearly relished his "secret" sessions with Doc, Abu Haydr protected the men at the very top of the organization. The ploy played upon his belief that he was operating in a multilayered reality, and at a deeper level than those around him; the secrecy just reinforced the ruse that Doc was a high-level connection. In the middle of this process, Mary started questioning Abu Haydr with the older gator they called Tom, and Lenny continued on in separate shifts by himself.

In early June, after Doc told the prisoner he was at "90 percent," Abu Haydr promised to give up a vital piece of information at his next session. And he did.

"My friend is Sheikh al-Rahman," he told Mary and Tom.

Then the conversation began to revolve around one simple point: what was the role of the "small blue car"? It was the thread, a slender one. But at the end of it lay the quarry and they began pulling on it ever so carefully. Bowden describes the rest.


Blogger PeterBoston said...

Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat

You gotta' admit the whackos are creative with their organizational names.

Of course that Muslims would automatically associate preaching and combat is not lost on this inquiring mind.

If indeed it is possible to distinguish them - individual Muslims may be fine human beings but Islam is the scourge of humanity.

4/11/2007 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Maetenloch said...

One of the interesting items from the article was that fear of being sent to Abu Ghraib was what got Abu Haydr to open up to one of the interrrogators. This is one case where the widespread accusation of torture against the U.S. actually had a positive benefit. Apparently even many of the terrorists believe it.

4/11/2007 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger Al Reasin said...

I remember that a few years ago threatening to send a terrorist to Gitmo produced the same results. Sometimes the media inadvertently helps the cause of freedom.

4/12/2007 04:24:00 AM  
Blogger Starling David Hunter said...

Someone saw fit to post the article in its entirety at this URL

4/13/2007 02:38:00 AM  

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