Over a year after President Obama disbanded the CIA’s interrogation program, we still have nothing to replace it:
In February 2009, after two wars and years of confusion over the best way to interrogate a terrorist, the U.S. created a special unit called the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) to relearn how to get critical information from suspects in custody.
Fifteen months later and in the wake of the failed car-bombing in Times Square, the question now is: where are they?
The HIG was supposed to bring together all that the U.S. had learned about getting prisoners to talk, the intent being to make the nation’s intelligence sector more effective. Based on a recommendation by a fact-finding intelligence panel, it was to be an interagency group staffed by the best interrogators in government — with broad powers to travel and decide interrogation techniques on a case-by-case basis.
More importantly, the HIG was to report directly to the National Security Council — ending a longtime bureaucratic war between the CIA and the FBI over who would control interrogations, a battle that had damaged intelligence operations.
Now, after a rocky start, sources say the secretive unit is almost up and running. But just how functional it is remains a matter of some dispute.
Five months ago, after the Christmas Day arrest in Detroit of the alleged “underwear bomber” Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab, intelligence watchers were stunned to learn that the HIG not only didn’t participate in his interrogation, but it was not yet operational. And now, despite reports that the HIG has been involved in the Times Square bombing case, intelligence sources say it is still a work in progress.
Marc Thiessen’s book explains how dangerous and inexcusable the administration’s failure is.