WikiLeaks Bolsters Argument for 'Enhanced' Interrogation Tactics
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s ongoing release of the Guantanamo Bay prison files, and large numbers of classified State Department cables, attempts to expose what he calls American corruption.
But supporters of the George W. Bush administration’s global war on terrorism say the nearly 800 Guantanamo files show that “enhanced” interrogations of hundreds of captured operatives at secret overseas prisons and at the Cuban prison amounted to one of the most successful intelligence operations in history.
Before the interrogations, the US knew little about al Qaeda in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Years later, the CIA and military had accumulated a large database of ongoing plots and the identities of terrorists, the WikiLeaks files show.
“The WikiLeaks documents provide still additional evidence that intelligence gained from CIA detainees not only helped lead us to Osama bin Laden, it helped us disrupt a number of follow-on attacks that had been set in motion after 9/11,” said Marc Thiessen, a former Bush speechwriter.
“Without this program, we would not have gone nearly 10 years without another catastrophic attack on the homeland. This is quite possibly the most important, and most successful, intelligence program in modern times. But instead of medals, the people behind this program have been given subpoenas.”
He was referring to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s launch of a criminal investigation of CIA officers who conducted the “enhanced” interrogations, some of which the Obama administration has dubbed “torture.”
The killing of Osama bin Laden underscores the value of the vast intelligence database. The treasure trove of information includes the identities of terrorists operating abroad, plots to kill civilians and details on how al Qaeda used a network of couriers for clandestine communication.
Public disclosure of the interrogation windfall began in April by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, which obtained hundreds of classified US reports on detainees written by Joint Task Force Guantanamo, the military unit in charge of the prison at US Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
As of Thursday, WikiLeaks had released 765 of 779 Gitmo files.
The files show that prisoner Abu Farajal al-Libi, al Qaeda’s No. 3 and a close aide to bin Laden, first disclosed the terrorist master’s special courier to the CIA. It was the agency’s ability to find and track the messenger that ultimately led a team of Navy SEALs to bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was killed early on May 2...
In the hunt for bin Laden, the files show al-Libi provided critical information. The CIA used so-called enhanced-interrogation techniques on al-Libi but did not subject him to waterboarding — the most controversial of techniques, which also included stress positions, slapping, shaking and dousing captives with cold water.