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Interrogators got valued info, could face charges
The Obama administration Monday appointed a special prosecutor to pursue criminal charges against CIA employees who interrogated some of al Qaeda’s hardest core members, while releasing documents showing individuals subjected to the tactics provided life-saving intelligence that disrupted numerous terror plots ranging from an anthrax attack on Westerners to a massive bombing of U.S. troops in Africa.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. ordered the reopening of criminal investigations against CIA interrogators that the Justice Department had previously declined to prosecute under President Bush.
He made the decision over the opposition of CIA Director Leon E. Panetta and despite the often-stated wishes of President Obama to “look forward” and not become entangled in a debate over the past practices of the war on terror.
Mr. Holder ordered his special prosecutor to focus on cases in which interrogators used “inhumane” tactics outside those authorized by their superiors, and, to bolster its case, the administration released a previously classified CIA inspector general’s report that detailed instances in which interrogators threatened one detainee with killing his children and suggested to another that they could force him to watch his mother be sexually assaulted.
At the same time, the CIA declassified documents that former Vice President Dick Cheney had pleaded to be released publicly that detailed the extraordinary information the United States gained from its interrogations of high-value detainees about al Qaeda’s leadership, its list of potential Westerners who could carry out attacks and about its operational plans that were subsequently thwarted.
Among the chilling details in the documents, titled “Khalid Sheikh Mohammad: Preeminent Source On Al-Qaeda” and “Detainee Reporting Pivotal for the War Against Al Qaeda”:
• The identities of key participants in an al Qaeda program to develop the ability to mount anthrax attacks.
• The identities of about 70 people whom al Qaeda had “deemed suitable for Western attacks.”
• The identities of the bomb makers responsible for an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, in June 2002.
• A plot to attack Camp Lemonier, a U.S. military facility in the East African nation of Djibouti.
“It will take years to determine definitively all the plots in which KSM was involved and of which he was aware,” the report said, “but our extensive debriefings of various KSM lieutenants since early 2003 suggest that he has divulged at least the broad outlines of the his network’s most significant plots against the United States and elsewhere and his role as Al-Qaeda chief of operations outside Afghanistan.”
In another case, information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed led to the arrest of Iyman Faris, a truck driver and al Qaeda conspirator who was arrested in 2003 in Ohio and is now serving a 20-year prison sentence.
“Detainee reporting has helped thwart a number of Al-Qaeda plots to attack targets in the West and elsewhere,” one of the reports said.
About the Author
Ben Conery is a member of the investigative team covering the Supreme Court and legal affairs. Prior to coming to The Washington Times in 2008, Mr. Conery covered criminal justice and legal affairs for daily newspapers in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He was a 2006 recipient of the New England Newspaper Association’s Publick Occurrences Award for a series of articles about ...
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