Monday, February 22, 2010

Obama administration bungling Baradar's interrogation?

From the Enterprise blog - by Marc Thiessen:
In today’s Washington Post, I briefly cite a remarkable, but little-noticed story this weekend in the Los Angeles Times, which reports that Mullah Baradar, the “Taliban military commander captured last month in Pakistan, has refused to provide information that could be used against his insurgent network, prompting the CIA to push for his transfer to an American-run prison in Afghanistan.”

Here are some of the other revelations from the Times story, which have thus far floated under the radar screen:

• “The CIA was denied direct access to Baradar for about two weeks after his arrest, and has since worked alongside Pakistani interrogators who continue to control the questioning. But officials said they have learned nothing from Baradar that could be used to track down other Taliban leaders, or inform the planning of U.S. military operations.”

• “Pakistani and CIA operatives did not know they had captured Baradar until after they began sorting through a group of suspects arrested in a raid on the outskirts of Karachi on Jan. 26. The house was targeted based on U.S. intelligence that ‘pointed to a meeting of his people,’ a U.S. official said. But there was no expectation that Baradar would be there. Only after Pakistani authorities began showing their CIA counterparts photographs of the prisoners did operatives realize they were holding the most high-ranking Taliban leader captured in the eight-year war.”

If accurate, this would mean that the Obama administration did not actually target Baradar for capture. Like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas bomber, he simply fell into their laps like manna from heaven.

And if true, then it means that, like the Christmas bomber, the Obama administration has bungled this interrogation—this time by outsourcing the questioning to Pakistani intelligence, which in turn blocked the CIA from getting access to Baradar for weeks and then failed to get him to talk.

Many commentators (including me) initially called Baradar’s capture and interrogation a “major success in the war on terror.” Turns out it may be anything but.

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