In Courting Disaster, I recount the story of a Guantanamo interrogator who got a terrorist to reveal the disposition of a rat line running from Yemen to Pakistan in exchange for five extra Snickers bars on his weekly allocation. The fact is non-coercive techniques, such as those contained in the Army Field Manual, are sufficient for the vast majority of terrorist interrogations.
The problem comes when we are dealing with a senior terrorist leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is resilient, determined, and trained to resist interrogation. KSM is not going to give up his plans for the next 9/11 in exchange for a Snickers bar.
This is why President Obama’s order that all terrorist interrogations must follow the Army Field Manual is so dangerous — and that danger is outlined in documents declassified this week by the Obama administration. In top-secret congressional testimony in April 2007, CIA director Mike Hayden explained to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee why the Army Field Manual is insufficient for interrogating terrorists like these:
The Army Field Manual (FM 2.22.3) governs the interrogation of large numbers of detainees held by the US military, who are captured in the course of traditional military hostilities. It is used by military personnel to help them collect tactical military intelligence from military detainees. Should the CIA be limited only to the interrogation techniques contained in the Army Field Manual, [REDACTED] would not be sufficient to justify continuing a covert CIA detention and interrogation program. The CIA program has proven to be effective after [REDACTED].
We have been advised that there is non/no classified annex describing or authorizing additional techniques [in the Army Field Manual]. It must be noted that the cover sheet for FM 2.22.3 clearly states the manual is “Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited”. Hence UNCLASSIFIED. Consequently, we must assume that AQ and other organizations have or can easily obtain a copy and train their people to resist these techniques and their methodology. Hence, we have not only laid out our game plan for the taking but have included the entire playbook as well. As a result, should our interrogations of AQ suspects be limited to the techniques in the field manual, we are left with very little offense and relegated to rely primarily on defense.
Without approval of EITs [Enhanced Interrogation Techniques] to compliment the techniques in FM 2.22.3, we have severely restricted our attempts to save lives and disrupt operations. Limiting our interrogation tools to those detailed in the field manual will increase the probability that a determined, resilient HVD [high-value detainee] will be able to withhold critical, time-sensitive, actionable intelligence that could prevent an imminent, catastrophic attack. In essence, we would be back to a pre-9/11 posture.
That is where we are today because of President Obama’s decisions — back to a pre-9/11 posture.