Tuesday, October 06, 2009

delanceyplace.com 10/6/09 - how to break a terrorist

In today's excerpt - the interrogators (or 'gators in
Army parlance) whose work led to locating and killing
Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq,
demonstrated once again in 2006 that the quickest
way to get most captives talking is to be nice to

"There's a joke interrogators like to tell: 'What's the
difference between a 'gator and a used car
salesman?' Answer: 'A 'gator has to abide by the
Geneva Conventions.'

"We 'gators don't hawk Chevys; we sell hope to
prisoners and find targets for shooters. Today, my
group of 'gators arrives in Iraq at a time when our
country is searching for a better way to conduct sales.

"After 9/11, military interrogators focused on two
techniques: fear and control. The Army trained
their 'gators to confront and dominate prisoners. This
led down the disastrous path to the Abu Ghraib
scandal. At Guantánamo Bay, the early interrogators
not only abused the detainees, they tried to belittle
their religious beliefs. I'd heard stories from a friend
who had been there that some of the 'gators even
tried to convert prisoners to Christianity.

"These approaches rarely yielded results. When the
media got wind of what those 'gators were doing, our
disgrace was detailed on every news broadcast and
front page from New York to Islamabad.

"Things are about to change. Traveling inside the
bowels of an air force C-130 transport, my group is
among the first to bring a new approach to
interrogating detainees. Respect, rapport, hope,
cunning, and deception are our tools. The old
ones - fear and control - are as obsolete as the buggy
whip. Unfortunately, not everyone embraces
change. ...

"When I went home [from my first tour Iraq] in June,
2003, I thought the war was over - mission
accomplished - but it had just changed form. We've
arrived in Iraq near the war's third anniversary. The
army, severely stretched between two wars and short
of personnel, has reached out to the other services for

"We're all special agents and experienced criminal
investigators for the air force. One of us is a civilian
agent and the rest of us are military. I'm the only
officer. Ever since the Abu Ghraib fiasco, the army has
struggled in searching for new ways to extract
information from detainees. We offer an alternative
approach. In the weeks to come, we'll try to prove our
new techniques work, but if we cross the wrong
people, we'll be sent home."

Matthew Alexander and John R. Bruning, How to
Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used
Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man
in Iraq, Free Press, Copyright 2008 by Matthew
Alexander, pp. 5-6, 10-11.


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