Two more senior Taliban leaders nabbed in Pakistan


Via the NYT:

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two senior Taliban leaders have been arrested in recent days inside Pakistan, officials said Thursday, as American and Pakistani intelligence agents continued to press their offensive against the group’s leadership after the capture of the insurgency’s military commander last month.

Afghan officials said the Taliban’s “shadow governors” for two provinces in northern Afghanistan had been detained in Pakistan by officials there. Mullah Abdul Salam, the Taliban’s leader in Kunduz, was detained in the Pakistani city of Faisalabad, and Mullah Mir Mohammed of Baghlan Province was also captured in an undisclosed Pakistani city, they said.

The arrests come on the heels of the capture of Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s military commander and the deputy to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the movement’s founder. Mr. Baradar was arrested in a joint operation by the C.I.A. and the ISI, Pakistan’s military intelligence agency.

The arrests were made by Pakistani officials, the Afghans said, but it seemed probable that C.I.A. officers accompanied them, as they did in the arrest of Mr. Baradar. Pakistani officials declined to comment.

Together, the three arrests mark the most significant blow to the Taliban’s leadership since the American-backed war began eight years ago. They also demonstrate the extent to which the Taliban’s senior leaders have been able to use Pakistan as a sanctuary to plan and mount attacks in Afghanistan.

It was not immediately clear if the arrests of the Taliban shadow governors were made possible by intelligence taken from Mr. Baradar. But it seemed likely. In the days after Mr. Baradar’s arrest, American officials said they managed to keep his detention a secret from many Taliban leaders, and that they were determined to roll up as much of the Taliban’s leadership as they could.

Mohammed Omar, the Governor of Kunduz Province, said in an interview that the two Taliban shadow governors had a close working relationship with Mr. Baradar.

In the days that followed Mr. Baradar’s arrest, American officials said he was providing a wealth of information on the Taliban’s operations. For the past several days, he has been interrogated by both Pakistani and American officials.

Glad to hear it. But the questions still remain …

Obama admin not talking on the details of Baradar capture, detention, and interrogation. Why?


Via Fox News:

WASHINGTON — The recent capture of the Taliban’s No. 2 is a big score for the Obama administration in the war on terror, but so far, the White House has said little about how Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was captured, where he is being held and what intelligence, if any, he is providing.

All that is known is that Baradar was apprehended in Karachi by a joint CIA-Pakistani operation and that he “was talking,” one Pakistani officer told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

“This involves very sensitive intelligence matters,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. “This involves the collection of intelligence, and it is best to do that and not to necessarily talk about it.”

Oh really? From where has this new attitude on keeping quiet on gathering sensitive intelligence information come? One of this administration’s top priorities from day one has been to reveal every highly sensitive intelligence gathering tactic the US has had at its disposal – in order to try and shame and embarass the Bush administration and their counterterrorism policies, policies which, BTW, kept us safe in the aftermath of 9-11. So all of a sudden ObamaCo. are clamming up now? If Baradar is being questioned “legally” under US, NATO, and Geneva Conventions guidelines, then why not just say so? After all, didn’t Obama promise to return to the “rule of law” when it came to the detention of terrorists and their “rights”? Why is there no rush to assure the “concerned” public both home and abroad (esp. in Europe) that Baradar is being treated properly in accordance with the Geneva Conventions/NATO/US guidelines?


Baradar is being held in Pakistan by local authorities for the time being, but other options have been somewhat limited by new NATO rules — and by President Obama’s own policies.

In January 2009, Obama issued an executive order banning so-called “black sites,” classified locations where CIA and overseas security officials interrogated terrorists, and another executive order calling for the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The rules have changed for holding detainees on the battlefield, as well. Last summer, NATO instituted a 96-hour rule, which says that if any NATO or International Security Assistance Force soldiers, including Americans, can’t transfer captured terrorists or enemy combatants to the Afghan justice system within 96 hours, they have to be released.

“It is a big limitation,” a senior official in Afghanistan told Fox News at the time of the rule change. “Not being able to detain individuals to conduct interrogations … is very restrictive, something that we didn’t have to worry about in Iraq.”

There are some exceptions to that rule. If a wanted terrorist is picked up by a U.S. Special Forces unit working under the confines of Operation Enduring Freedom, rather than NATO, that prisoner would be sent to a detention facility at Bagram Air Base, where U.S. interrogators would be free to question him within the guidelines of the Army Field Manual.

The hope is that high-value targets are picked up by elite U.S. units and not by NATO, but that exception may not last. A military official in the Pentagon told Fox Tuesday, “we are looking at that policy to see of it’s a good idea.”

Well, they can stop reviewing that “policy” because it’s obvious that it’s not a good idea – that is, unless Obama continues to be lucky enough to have the the Pakistani intelligence forces doing the dirty work for us. Is that really what this administration wants? To “hope” that high-value targets are either picked up by the US Special Forces or via joint CIA/Paki intellgence ops so they can bypass the very laws they vowed to stand by in an effort to “restore” America’s reputation around the world as an respector of “human rights” and the “rule of law”?

I ask all these rhetorical questions for one reason: To demonstrate this administration’s out and out hypocrisy on the issue of terrorists “rights,” which I wrote about in depth yesterday in response to the initial reports regarding Baradar’s capture. Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad Baradar’s in the custody of Pakistani and US intelligence officials, and I hope they wring him dry of all the intelligence they can – using every tool at their disposal, if necessary. This is also not about wanting them to reveal what Baradar is saying. It’s about what I feel is the importance of pointing out this administration’s double standards, especially considering how Democrats have raked Bush over the coals over Gitmo, “torture,” etc over the last 8 years or so. Bush was a human rights “nightmare,” according to the left, an evil man hellbent on thumbing his nose at the rule of law soley because he wanted to be a dictator, not just President. If the left was to be believed, the counterterrorism policies either put in place or fine-tuned under Bush had nothing to do with wanting to protect America in the aftermath of 9-11 but rather were a backdoor route to claiming “unlimited executive power” in a time of war purely for devious personal gain.

Let the record show that under the Obama administration, a high-value terrorist has been captured in Pakistan and is being interrogated by Pakistani intelligence agents, likely with the aid of the CIA operatives who helped capture him. Let the record also stand that the administration thus far has refused to reveal whether or not this high-value admitted terrorist is being treated “humanely” under NATO/US/GC guidelines. The fact that at this stage they haven’t rushed to assure the American public one way or the other is a strong indicator to me that they are circumventing the new laws they put in place and vowed to uphold, laws they promised would “restore” America’s standing in the world in light of how we were supposedly viewed during the Bush administration.

In short, this administration has scored a major victory in the global war on terror likely by utilizing the same post-capture tactics they decried under the Bush administration. In light of this, one question remains: Should they be thanking Bush for this, too? Or apologizing for demonizing him and his administration for years for authorizing tactics they themselves now use when necessary in the GWOT?

Taliban’s second in command in Afghanistan is captured


Great news, via the Long War Journal:

Pakistan’s top military intelligence service captured the Afghan Taliban’s deputy commander during a raid in the port city of Karachi.

The Inter-Service Intelligence agency, Pakistan’s military intelligence service, accompanied by officers from the US Central Intelligence Agency arrested Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Afghan Taliban’s second in command and the group’s operational commander, US officials told The New York Times.

Baradar has been a longtime leader in the Afghan Taliban and a close confidant of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the spiritual leader of the group. He is said to direct the Taliban’s Shura Majlis, or top leadership council. Baradar directed the Taliban’s day to day operations, and is in close contact with regional military commanders and the shadow governors. He also is said to control the Taliban’s purse strings.

The exact date of Baradar’s arrest was not given; it is not known if Baradar’s arrest has led to the capture of other senior Taliban leaders. As operational commander, Baradar will have extensive information on the Taliban’s strategy and its leadership cadre.

Here’s more from that NYT report:

The commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, is an Afghan described by American officials as the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the American-led war in Afghanistan started more than eight years ago. He ranks second in influence only to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder and a close associate of Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Mullah Baradar has been in Pakistani custody for several days, with American and Pakistani intelligence officials both taking part in interrogations, according to the officials.

It was unclear whether he was talking, but the officials said his capture had provided a window into the Taliban and could lead to other senior officials. Most immediately, they hope he will provide the whereabouts of Mullah Omar, the one-eyed cleric who is the group’s spiritual leader.

Disclosure of Mullah Baradar’s capture came as American and Afghan forces were in the midst of a major offensive in southern Afghanistan.

His capture could cripple the Taliban’s military operations, at least in the short term, said Bruce O. Riedel, a former C.I.A. officer who last spring led the Obama administration’s Afghanistan and Pakistan policy review.

Details of the raid remain murky, but officials said that it had been carried out by Pakistan’s military spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, and that C.I.A. operatives had accompanied the Pakistanis.

The New York Times learned of the operation on Thursday, but delayed reporting it at the request of White House officials, who contended that making it public would end a hugely successful intelligence-gathering effort. The officials said that the group’s leaders had been unaware of Mullah Baradar’s capture and that if it became public they might cover their tracks and become more careful about communicating with each other.

The Times is publishing the news now because White House officials acknowledged that the capture of Mullah Baradar was becoming widely known in the region.

How courteous of the NYT to give the administration the benefit of sitting on news of the ongoing operation in order for the military to be able to carry out the mission, unlike how they treated similar operations during the Bush administration, as Michelle Malkin notes here.

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?

Oh yeah – it’s the NYT, that’s why.

Anyway, Bill Jacobson has some good questions:

According the The Times’ report, Baradar is being interrogated by both Pakistanis and Americans. If that is true, that is more good news.

We’ll see how this plays out. But it does raise the question of how far the interrogation will go.

Did the U.S. deliberately not take possession of Baladar so as to avoid the now-thorny issue of Baradar’s right to counsel and to remain silent?

And if so, what does that say about our policies regarding people, such as the failed Detroit airplane bomber, who are in our possession?

Not only that, but where will Baradar be detained and how long will he be detained there after he’s “questioned”? Bagram? Remember, early on in the administration the Obama Justice Dept. argued – contra Obama’s campaign promises to the contrary, of course, on the issue of “terrorist rights” – that the US had the right to indefinitely detain captured terrorists in Afghanistan. Not only that, but they also argued that the Bagram detainees had no Constitutional rights.

Essentially, as I’ve stated before, Bagram is Obama’s “legal” Gitmo, but it will be interesting to see how they handle this particular case, considering that it is a high-profile capture much like KSM’s that is being widely reported by the MSM. If they choose to hold Baradar indefinitely at Bagram without allowing him the “rights” they claim KSM and other terrorists who have been detained at Gitmo allegedly had/have, will the American people do what the MSM won’t by comparing the two cases and realizing that there is a disconnect between the Obama admin’s rhetoric and reality on the issue of “terrorist rights” and “indefinite detention”? Will they figure out that, contra the administration’s stated reasons for desiring to hold KSM’s trial in the United States (“justice” and “fairness”), that this is really all about putting the Bush admin on trial via proxy?

Let’s not forget that, in spite of the Obama administration’s public declaration that they want KSM’s trial to be a global symbol of the “fairness” of the US justice system, AG Eric Holder has already stated for the record that in the unlikely event that KSM is found innocent at trial KSM will not be released from US custody and may, in fact be sent to … Bagram. Will he one day join Baradar there?

So, while it’s great news that another high profile terrorist is now out of commission and is in the custody of US/Pakistan intelligence agents, the above questions – most of which you and I already know the answers to – remain. Let’s just hope the American people continue to open their eyes wider and eventually figure out what we’ve known all along about the administration’s selective arguments on “Constitutional rights” for admitted terrorists like KSM: it’s a farce, designed to not to administer justice to Islamofascist thugs but rather to put the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies on trial and, in effect, convict them in the court of public opinion.

As they say, stay tuned …

Marc Thiessen schools Christiane Amanpour on waterboarding


Former senior Bush administration official Marc Thiessen has been a machine over the last couple of years when it comes to setting the record straight on CIA interrogation tactics and how the “EIT”s (Enhanced Interrogation Tactics) like waterboarding, for example, actually did stop terrorist attacks and saved lives. Fortunately for us, he’s still at it this year, both with a new book on the issue and hitting the media circuit to talk about both it and the misinformation being spread by revenge-minded Democrats and their cohorts in MSM about what did and did not happen.

Such was the case with CNN’s chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, who Thiessen squared off with yesterday on the issue of waterboarding and her bizarre “reports” comparing it to Khmer Rouge. During the segment, he directly confronted her about some of her reporting, and the exchange was priceless. Human Events provides a summary (via Memeo):

Sparks flew on CNN’s Amanpour, when conservative author Marc Thiessen directly challenged the CNN’s chief international correspondent with evidence that she had misled her viewers about the CIA’s waterboarding techniques. A stunned Amanpour was left momentarily speechless as Thiessen pulled out a transcript from a 2008 CNN broadcast from the Khmer Rouge prison S-21, where Amanpour had stood before a picture of Khmer Rouge torturers drowning an innocent Cambodian in a vat of water, and declared that the CIA had done the same thing to terrorists in its custody.

Thiessen told Amanpour, “There have been so many so misstatements told about the enhanced interrogation techniques, comparing them to the Spanish Inquisition and the Khmer Rouge, and I have to tell you Christiane, you are one of the people who have spread these mistruths.”

An incredulous Amanpour replied, “Excuse me?”

Thiessen pulled out a transcript of her story from her visit to S-21, and said “Let me read to you what you said.” He then quoted Amanpour’s report:

“I stared blankly at another of Van Nath’s paintings. This time a prisoner is submerged in a life-size box full of water, handcuffed to the side so he cannot escape or raise his head to breathe. His interrogators, arrayed around him, are demanding information. I asked Van Nath whether he had heard this was once used on America’s terrorist suspected. He nodded his head. ‘It’s not right.”

Thiessen told Amanpour, “That is completely false.” Amanpour asked, “That’s false?” Thiessen told her, “We did not submerge people in a box of water.” Amanpour replied, “Excuse me a second, that is called waterboarding.” “No it’s not,” Thiessen replied. Amanpour tried to turn to the other guest, left-wing author Philippe Sands, but Thiessen pressed his point: “Christiane you are absolutely wrong. 14,000 people killed in S-21. Seven survivors …” But Amanpour cut him off, “Excuse me, you are trying to obfuscate the debate. That prison was full of images of water torture.” Thiessen responded, “Which is nothing like what the CIA did. Do you have any evidence …” Amanpour cut him again off to go Sands, after which Amanpour tried to change the subject.

Read the whole thing, and watch part one of the segment below:

Part 2 is here.

If more Bush administration officials had been out on the beat, tangling with the MSM in order to set the record straight while Bush was still President, it’s quite possible President Obama would not have been able to get away with his slow but steady systematic dismantling of our intelligence agencies as we know them, specifically, their ability to aggressively interrogate suspected terrorists and their associates in order to snag information that might prevent another terror attack either here at home and/or abroad.

Ed Driscoll noticed something else while watching the exchange between Thiessen and Amanpour: CNN’s circular logic on the issue of “torture”:

Also note the mobius loop of CNN “logic” at work here. The network has always been eager to prop up regimes that specialized in real torture and lots of it, such as both Saddam Hussein (as Eason Jordan, former CNN chief news executive later acknowledged) and Fidel Castro, whom Jordan once credited for inspiring spin-off channel CNN International. But in an effort to bring down President Bush, inhanced interregation against terrorists was made to resemble the methods used by terror regimes…that CNN supports.

Whatever it takes to get a story, right? Propping up brutal governments while grossly distorting the facts – in an effort to make us out to be the bad guys – about what our government did and did not authorize intelligence agents to do in order to prevent another terrorist attack is obviously the CNN way.

Interestingly enough, this all ties into the Scott Brown victory from this past Tuesday. While healthcare “reform” has been the reason many have given for his miracle win, his campaign’s internal polling suggests another key issue was at play, too:

It was health care that nationalized the special election for what we now know is the people’s Senate seat. But it was national security that put real distance between Scott Brown and Martha Coakley. “People talk about the potency of the health-care issue,” Brown’s top strategist, Eric Fehrnstrom, told National Review’s Robert Costa, “but from our own internal polling, the more potent issue here in Massachusetts was terrorism and the treatment of enemy combatants.”

As they say, “it’s the economy, stupid” but it’s also about national security, too. I’m happy to see that even the blue state of “Massachusettes” get it, and I’m glad to know that there are people out there like Thiessen who are unafraid and unashamed to speak their minds, and who won’t think twice about countering and correcting the misinformation and outright (deliberate?) distortion that is being spread by liberals and the MSM about the Bush counterterrorism record.

NYT at it again – publishes info that will aid the enemy and hurt US counterterrorism efforts


Yes, the newspaper that refused to reveal the exact contents of the ClimateGate emails because they were “never meant for the public eye” has once again handed the enemy the keys to the front doors of our intelligence agencies by exposing secret tactics used by the CIA, with the help of Blackwater, in tracking, detaining, and transporting suspected ‘insurgents’ in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pathetic slugs.

Merry Christmas from the New York Slimes, Al Qaeda! Or,er, what’s the proper holiday greeting for Islamofascists?

Can we question their patriotism yet?

CIA says no to federal judge’s order to turn over classified papers


Showdown time:

WASHINGTON — The CIA says it cannot turn over more details of its interrogations of terror suspects without spilling classified government secrets.

A long-secret report released last week shed new light on alleged CIA abuses. The spy agency faced a Monday court deadline to turn over more papers, but the agency responded by telling the federal judge in the case that dozens of remaining documents must stay secret.

The American Civil Liberties Union has sought the documents as part of a long-running lawsuit seeking information about the U.S. government’s antiterror program.

The civil rights group criticized the CIA’s position, saying it contradicts President Obama’s policies on counterterror measures and transparency in government.

Attorney General Eric Holder last week appointed federal prosecutor John Durham to look into abuse allegations after the release of an internal CIA inspector general’s report that revealed agency interrogators once threatened to kill a Sept. 11 suspect’s children and suggested another would be forced to watch his mother be sexually assaulted.

It’ll be interesting to see where this goes, considering the fact that when a judge issues an order, by law you have to follow it – and I’m assuming the only way you don’t have to is if you’re the Justice Department and you successfully plead your case with the judge that the revelation/release of the documents in question will do serious damage to our national security interests. I would have to defer to legal experts on that though – hopefully a few will weigh in.

Hoekstra slams Obama, Justice Dept over CIA investigations



WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, issued the following statement after the Department of Justice released portions of a CIA IG report on terrorist interrogation and Attorney General Eric Holder announced he was naming a prosecutor to investigate CIA officers engaged in counterterrorism:

“At the same time the situation in Afghanistan is getting decidedly worse and the Taliban is advancing, the Obama Justice Department is launching an investigation that risks disrupting CIA counterterrorism initiatives. This is the last thing that should happen when the president is sending more troops into harm’s way, and the nation’s top military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, said over the weekend that al-Qaeda still remains a threat to America and our interests abroad.

“Attorney General Holder should know that as he increases the focus on America’s past counterterrorism efforts, he is distracting from the CIA’s current counterterrorism efforts. Having recently been forced to drop cases due to prosecutorial misconduct at DOJ, the attorney general argued that these were rare instances and not part of a broader problem. The same can be said of the CIA, where the agency initiated the investigation, reported cases of misconduct and disciplined the officers involved.

“It is important to note that incidences of inappropriate, unauthorized conduct cited in the 2004 IG report were dealt with. The unauthorized conduct has been exhaustively reviewed in the past, including by the committee. That the Obama administration apparently is planning to reopen these cases after thorough review by nonpartisan prosecutors raises serious questions.

“President Obama has said repeatedly that he wants to move forward, but his Justice Department seems intractably stuck in reverse. The message from the administration is completely confused, and the men and women at the CIA who we ask to protect our nation have been left in the lurch.

“The attorney general needs to stop his zealous attempt to make this out to be a systemic problem, when unlike cases such as the 2001 Peru shoot down, the CIA IG did not find evidence that there was a systemic problem. Disgruntled lawyers at DOJ, having lost the debate that America’s counterterrorism efforts should be focused on prevention not prosecution, need to put an end to this bureaucratic turf battle.

“The American people have made it clear, they want the CIA to focus on exactly what its mission should be—disrupting and defeating our nation’s enemies and preventing the next attack.”


Also, make sure to read Jennifer Rubin’s breakdown of what this all means. Snippets:

Let’s unpack some of this. For starters, this is not “politically awkward” for Holder. He will be greeted by cheers from the Left. The media will write glowing editorials. There is nothing like going after the intelligence community for getting the liberal elite’s juices flowing. But he is actually doing one of two things: he is either a rogue attorney general, defying the wishes of the administration and determined to drag the administration and country through a quagmire of investigations and problematic prosecutions, or he is carrying out the president’s wishes while insulating Obama from the wrath of anyone thinking it is the president’s job to defend those who defended us and to avoid further damage to the already crumbling morale at Langley.


Well, we’ve come a long way. The war on terror has become the war on the CIA. And the terrorists no longer need fear anything more harsh than polite questions posed to them on a good night’s sleep and in quiet, comfy surroundings. And the timing is perfect. Obama is on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, and not bold enough to announce and defend these developments from the White House. America, apparently, is on holiday from the war on terror, too. Unfortunately, our enemies are not.

Make sure to read the whole thing.

The Obama administration, in a nutshell, has declared war on our intelligence operations and the Bush administration. This is all about distractions and revenge, not “transparency and accountability.” This administration made it clear long ago that they had no intention of practicing what they preached on that front.

The Obama Justice Dept’s war on the CIA


ABC News reports that CIA director Leon Panetta recently had a “shouting match” with the WH over the Justice Department’s plans to investigate CIA agents for “interrogation techniques that President Obama has termed “torture”:

A “profanity-laced screaming match” at the White House involving CIA Director Leon Panetta, and the expected release today of another damning internal investigation, has administration officials worrying about the direction of its newly-appoint intelligence team, current and former senior intelligence officials tell ABC

Amid reports that Panetta had threatened to quit just seven months after taking over at the spy agency, other insiders tell that senior White House staff members are already discussing a possible shake-up of top national security officials.

“You can expect a larger than normal turnover in the next year,” a senior adviser to Obama on intelligence matters told

Since 9/11, the CIA has had five directors or acting directors.

A White House spokesperson, Denis McDonough, said reports that Panetta had threatened to quit and that the White House was seeking a replacement were “inaccurate.”

According to intelligence officials, Panetta erupted in a tirade last month during a meeting with a senior White House staff member. Panetta was reportedly upset over plans by Attorney General Eric Holder to open a criminal investigation of allegations that CIA officers broke the law in carrying out certain interrogation techniques that President Obama has termed “torture.”

Very relevant to this news is today’s gleeful report from the NYT on Holder’s plans for investigations:

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s ethics office has recommended reversing the Bush administration and reopening nearly a dozen prisoner-abuse cases, potentially exposing Central Intelligence Agency employees and contractors to prosecution for brutal treatment of terrorism suspects, according to a person officially briefed on the matter.

Ahem, NYT – that should have been alleged “brutal treatment of terrorism suspects.”

Rumor has it that later today the WH may be releasing a few CIA documents that relate to Cheney’s release request from earlier this year in which he was attempting to prove that the aggressive interrogation techniques authorized for use during the Bush admin worked. Supposedly other documents will be released that suggest (at least to the Obama WH, anyway) that they did not. Michelle Malkin is keeping track of developments here.

And lastly, the WaPo reports on a new “interrogation unit” the WH has set up to interrogate terrorist suspects:

President Obama has approved the creation of an elite team of interrogators to question key terrorism suspects, part of a broader effort to revamp U.S. policy on detention and interrogation, senior administration officials said Sunday.

Obama signed off late last week on the unit, named the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, or HIG. Made up of experts from several intelligence and law enforcement agencies, the interrogation unit will be housed at the FBI but will be overseen by the National Security Council — shifting the center of gravity away from the CIA and giving the White House direct oversight.

Rachel Abrams responds:

The interrogation-authority-grab by the Obama White House could send shockwaves through the Bush-mind-control-conspiracy-theory community, and sting the New York Times as a lover’s betrayal. But oh, happy, happy day for jihadist murderers the world over who may chance to hear from Samantha Power’s own lovely lips: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?”

I feel so much safer now.

CIA agents’ identities exposed to terrorists by Gitmo lawyers and the ACLU


I am speechless (via Stop the ACLU):

Detainees Shown CIA Officers’ Photos
Justice Dept. Looking Into Whether Attorneys Broke Law at Guantanamo

The Justice Department recently questioned military defense attorneys at Guantanamo Bay about whether photographs of CIA personnel, including covert officers, were unlawfully provided to detainees charged with organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Investigators are looking into allegations that laws protecting classified information were breached when three lawyers showed their clients the photographs, the sources said. The lawyers were apparently attempting to identify CIA officers and contractors involved in the agency’s interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects in facilities outside the United States, where the agency employed harsh techniques.

If detainees at the U.S. military prison in Cuba are tried, either in federal court or by a military commission, defense lawyers are expected to attempt to call CIA personnel to testify.

The photos were taken by researchers hired by the John Adams Project, a joint effort of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, to support military counsel at Guantanamo Bay, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the inquiry. It was unclear whether the Justice Department is also examining those organizations.

Both groups have long said that they will zealously investigate the CIA’s interrogation program at “black sites” worldwide as part of the defense of their clients. But government investigators are now looking into whether the defense team went too far by allegedly showing the detainees the photos of CIA officers, in some cases surreptitiously taken outside their homes.

Where’s the mother freaking outrage? Ed Morrissey responds:

I recall a large number of people arguing a few years ago that the unmasking of Valerie Plame amounted to treason. I wonder if the same people making that argument about the leak of her identity as a CIA analyst (by Colin Powell aide Richard Armitage to the late Robert Novak) will remain consistent in this case. After all, here we have Americans exposing field agents at their homes, and not to a journalist — but to the enemy. If Plame’s exposure was treason, then this should be a hanging offense, no?

I will not hold my breath waiting for the duplicitous left to howl with rage day in and day out over this news in the same way they did over Valerie Plame’s alleged “outing.” It simply doesn’t fit in with their agenda: they can’t blame it on “the right,” they can’t pin it on Karl Rove or Bush, and – let’s face it – many of the same lefties who were supposedly so enraged over the “outing” of Valerie Plame were harsh critics of CIA tactics and cheerleaders for detainee lawyers during the Bush administration and remain so today, so I suspect there’s a lot of secret glee being felt by the same hypocrites who argued so forcefully during pLamegate about how it was so important to protect the cover of covert CIA agents in the field in the interests of both our national security and the personal safety of the agents involved.

Liars all. Disgusting.

CNN takes at face value the word of conspiracy hack who worked under Powell


Ok – first, the “story” (via Karl at Patterico’s):

(CNN) — Finding a “smoking gun” linking Iraq and al Qaeda became the main purpose of the abusive interrogation program the Bush administration authorized in 2002, a former State Department official told CNN on Thursday.

The allegation was included in an online broadside aimed at former Vice President Dick Cheney by Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff for then-Secretary of State Colin Powell. In it, Wilkerson wrote that the interrogation program began in April and May of 2002, and then-Vice President Cheney’s office kept close tabs on the questioning.

“Its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at preempting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al Qaeda,” Wilkerson wrote in The Washington Note, an online political journal.

Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel, said his accusation is based on information from current and former officials. He said he has been “relentlessly digging” since 2004, when Powell asked him to look into the scandal surrounding the treatment of prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.

“I couldn’t walk into a courtroom and prove this to anybody, but I’m pretty sure it’s fairly accurate,” he told CNN.

Most of Wilkerson’s online essay criticizes Cheney’s recent defense of the “alternative” interrogation techniques the Bush administration authorized for use against suspected terrorists. Cheney has argued the interrogation program was legal and effective in preventing further attacks on Americans.

Critics say the tactics amounted to the illegal torture of prisoners in U.S. custody and have called for investigations of those who authorized them.

Representatives of the former vice president declined comment on Wilkerson’s allegations. But Wilkerson told CNN that by early 2002, U.S. officials had decided that “we had al Qaeda pretty much on the run.”

“The priority had turned to other purposes, and one of those purposes was to find substantial contacts between al Qaeda and Baghdad,” he said.

The argument that Iraq could have provided weapons of mass destruction to terrorists such as al Qaeda was a key element of the Bush administration’s case for the March 2003 invasion. But after the invasion, Iraq was found to have dismantled its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs, and the independent commission that investigated the 2001 attacks found no evidence of a collaborative relationship between the two entities.

Wilkerson wrote that in one case, the CIA told Cheney’s office that a prisoner under its interrogation program was now “compliant,” meaning agents recommended the use of “alternative” techniques should stop.

At that point, “The VP’s office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods,” Wilkerson wrote.

“The detainee had not revealed any al Qaeda-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, ‘revealed’ such contacts.”

Al-Libi’s claim that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s government had trained al Qaeda operatives in producing chemical and biological weapons appeared in the October 2002 speech then-President Bush gave when pushing Congress to authorize military action against Iraq. It also was part of Powell’s February 2003 presentation to the United Nations on the case for war, a speech Powell has called a “blot” on his record.

Al-Libi later recanted the claim, saying it was made under torture by Egyptian intelligence agents, a claim Egypt denies. He died last week in a Libyan prison, reportedly a suicide, Human Rights Watch reported.

Bbbbut not so fast. Read James Kirchick’s devastating takedown of Wilkerson’s credibility here at TNR. The short version? He has none, which is confirmed by Thomas Joscelyn. But of course that hasn’t stopped the “Darth Cheney” haters on the left – like HuffPo, Andrew Sullivan, and Joe Conason- from taking Wilkerson’s word without question as more “definitive proof” of the alleged “sheer evilness and underhandedness” of Cheney, who they maintain was ok with the use of EITs purely so a link between AQ and Iraq could be established.

Wilkerson made a lame attempt at responding to Joscelyn’s assertions, but Joscelyn fired back by dissecting Wilkerson’s response piece by piece.

TNR is a left wing publication, and Weekly Standard is right wing. It’s rare you see writers at these two magazines agree on anything, but two of them do on the issues of both Lawrence Wilkerson’s credibility and assertions. Clearly, they’ve both done their research. The (rhetoricial) question is: Why didn’t CNN?