There were little gasps of surprise last December, when it was learned that Barack Obama’s new politically correct High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) was not yet operational, and therefore not available to wheedle information out of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab concerning Al-Qaeda-in-the-Arabian-Peninsula (AQAP)’s nefarious plots against the lives of American civilians, using the latest and most advanced forms of Tea and Sympathy.
Apparently, the president’s crack team of sympathetic listeners is now actually in business, but anonymous sources have revealed to Newsweek’s Mark Hosenball that the immaculate inquisitors are not actually being deployed to deal with Taliban military commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Last summer, the Obama administration announced that, as a replacement for the Bush administration’s secret CIA terrorist detention and interrogation program, it would create a SWAT-style team of interrogation experts to travel the world squeezing terrorist suspects for vital information. Administration officials say that the interrogation unit, known as the HIG (for High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group) is now operational. But for reasons that are unclear, the administration has not deployed HIG personnel to question Afghan Taliban military commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, arguably the most important terrorist suspect captured since the detention of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in spring of 2003.
Mullah Baradar was captured by Pakistani security forces in Karachi earlier this month following a tip-off from U.S. intelligence about a planned meeting involving some of his cohorts. … [S]ome sources say that U.S. intelligence personnel in Pakistan, who are believed to include both CIA and military counterterrorism experts, were not given access to Baradar until more than a week after his capture. Obama administration officials now say that Baradar is talking a little, that U.S. personnel in Pakistan do have access to him, and that any intelligence that has been squeezed out of him has been shared with American representatives.
But five U.S. officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, tell Declassified that the HIGâ€”which the Obama administration has billed as a less-controversial alternative to the Bush administration’s use of secret CIA prisons and “enhanced” interrogation techniques that human rights advocates had described as tortureâ€”is not being deployed to participate in the questioning of Mullah Baradar. Some of the officials say they find this puzzling, since Baradar, who before his capture served as the Afghan Taliban’s top military commander, is widely believed to possess information that might be very useful to U.S. and allied forces fighting his Taliban comrades in Afghanistan. …
Officials from several government agencies involved in counterterrorism say that the HIG now is operational and that some of its personnel, who are formed into mobile interrogation teams, have already been sent out on highly classified interrogation assignments. But Mullah Baradar’s interrogation is not one of them, the officials affirm. Two of the officials say their understanding was that the reason that HIG personnel had not been sent to question Baradar was because Pakistan’s government was reluctant to allow them to do so. However, two other officials say that the Obama administration did not ask Pakistan for permission to send a HIG team to question Baradar, though these officials would offer no explanation for why the administration would not want to use HIG in this case. A White House official declined to comment on the matter
This leak obviously represents a rejoinder to Obama Administration pious poses regarding enhanced interrogation, drawing Newsweek’s attention to the fact that, since the Obama Administration has forbidden US Intelligence to question captured insurgents rigorously, what do they do when they get a high value prisoner who obviously possesses important information? They don’t rely on their publicly proclaimed policy, or use their shiny new white glove team of nice interrogators. Instead, they turn the prisoner over to the Pakistanis who can get right to work using forms of coercion far beyond anything ever imagined in the Bush Administration playbook.