Neptunus Lex justifiably praises the joint Pakistani-U.S. intelligence operation that snagged the Taliban’s top military commander last week:
US and Pakistani intelligence services scored a major clandestine coup in the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Banadar, a senior Taliban military commander earlier last week[.]
It’s good to see that the ISI – whose loyalties in the GWOT have always been suspect – is cooperating rather than dragging their feet. It only makes sense after all, the threat to Pakistan should Afghanistan go sideways is existential and the fight in Afghanistan cannot be successfully prosecuted while the Taliban have a safe haven over the Hindu Kush. …
Lex goes on to note that, by acceding to the government’s request for a five-day publishing delay, the New York Times helped to enable an “intelligence bonanza”:
Keeping mum on Baradar’s capture creates the conditions for quite an intelligence bonanza, as his subordinate operatives expose their network through angst-driven chatter. It would be useful to know who leaked the information to the New York Times, back before it had become “widely known in the region”, and when it could have really hurt the effort.
The effort could still be hurt, though — if Baradar’s interrogators decide that personal vengeance is more important than actionable intelligence:
Apparently Baradar has been in custody since last week and is being interrogated by both the Paks and us. (This is why the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group exists.) The ultimate point of fighting the Taliban is to compel them to give up fighting and accept some version of a post-Taliban order in Afghanistan. Torturing Baradar — which the Pakistanis have been known to do — is counterproductive to that effort. If we treat the guy respectfully, in a demonstrated way, it might spur a reconsideration of Taliban goals. I am not counting any chickens, but any hope of a game-changing possibility will be foreclosed upon if we or our allies torture Baradar. Let’s be smart — and true to Obama’s stated principles/executive order. If there was any doubt whatsoever, the Abdulmutallab case proved we don’t need to torture to get good intelligence.
Unfortunately, need to torture and desire to torture are two different things — and the usual suspects are already falling over each other at the probability that Baradar hasn’t been read his Miranda rights (which I will go way, way, way out on a limb here and speculate probably might have something to do with the fact that Baradar was captured in Karachi, not on U.S. soil, and is in Pakistani, not U.S., custody?). Although I can’t be sure why this point excites them so much, I have to assume there is some connection being made between Miranda rights and torture. In other words, the idea is that if Baradar hasn’t been told he has the right to remain silent, that must mean he is being tortured.
For a whole lot of individuals on the right, that is by far the most important thing — much more important than maximizing our chances for getting actionable, reliable, factual information that could lead to the capture of Mullah Omar and/or to preventing future terrorist attacks.
Let’s take a closer look at that last link — to Curt at Flopping Aces. I did a search to see how many times the word “intelligence” appeared. One, in a reader comment, was part of the spelled-out title of Pakistan’s intelligence services (the Directorate for Interservices Intelligence); the other three were all part of quoted material and used to describe a type of official, a type of operation, etc., not in the sense of a specific kind of information.
Here are the sort of points about the capture and interrogation of Baradar that Curt thought essential to tell us:
“Lefty Craniums Explode as Obama Considers Keeping Our Enemy Detained Indefinitely.”
That’s the title of the post. Here is what we get further down:
“Watch as the left heads explode.”
“I’m shocked [Baradar’s] lawyer hasn’t been flown via Air Force One yet, but maybe Obama and company are seeing the light?”
Ok, stop laughing. After the beating Holder and Obama took after the asinine decision to Mirandize the crotchbomber maybe they deliberately said “eh, lets just let Pakistan guys interrogate him.”
Okay, let’s not pick on Curt. It’s not like he’s the only one.
Here is Sister Toldjah:
As to the questioning of Mullah Baradar:
The officials said that Pakistan was leading the interrogation of Mullah Baradar, but that Americans were also involved. The conditions of the questioning are unclear. In its first week in office, the Obama administration banned harsh interrogations like waterboarding by Americans, but the Pakistanis have long been known to subject prisoners to brutal questioning.
Sigh. Why can’t the NYT provide factual background on the issue of waterboarding during the Bush administration by noting that it was only used on three high-value terrorist detainees and that the use of it had effectively ceased in 2005?
Hey, look, ma! We only violated half a dozen international and domestic prohibitions on torture on three detainees!
Of course, on one of those detainees, we used waterboarding 83 times, and on another we used it 183 times. Very effective technique, that.
John Hinderaker at Power Line, after “sincerely congratulat[ing] the administration on this accomplishment,” gets to the really important stuff:
We can’t help noting, though: why didn’t they pay for a lawyer and read Baradar his rights? If negotiating with a criminal defense lawyer is the most effective way to get information from a captured terrorist–here, among other things, the authorities are trying to learn the whereabouts of the Taliban’s long-lost leader, Mullah Omar–why didn’t they follow that paradigm with Mr. Baradar?
Daniel Foster at The Corner:
And in contrast to the politicization and counterproductive leaks from the White House surrounding the interrogation of Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, for instance, the initial questioning of Baradar appears to have been accomplished with relative secrecy, upping the chance it could yield actionable intelligence.
Politicization? What politicization? Who politicized the interrogation of the Christmas Day bomber? Who did that?
Anyway, everyone knows that only “enhanced interrogation techniques” conducted in secret (as opposed to what? Abdulmutallab’s interrogation at twelve noon in Times Square?) yield actionable intelligence. Right?