There was a time when a suspected terrorist such as Harzi would have been detained at Guantánamo or in one of the CIA’s so-called black sites. Now, America either kills terrorists in drone strikes, thereby forgoing the opportunity to question them and potentially learn life-saving intelligence, or depends on foreign countries’ willingness to keep them in custody.
This raises a host of difficult questions for Brennan to answer. Does Brennan still believe that the CIA’s interrogation program saved lives? If so, why isn’t such a program necessary today? As Brennan himself remarked in 2007, the CIA used “the most serious types of enhanced procedures” (e.g., waterboarding) on “only a small proportion” of the detained terrorists. In fact, the CIA waterboarded only three captured terrorists and discontinued the practice in 2003. Why shouldn’t the CIA or other U.S. authorities still capture and question terrorists at American-run facilities, using techniques short of the “most serious” ones? Does Brennan think that potentially life-saving intelligence is being missed because the United States does not have a robust detention capability? What does he think America’s detention policy for suspected terrorists such as Harzi should be?…
The Guardian (U.K.) reported that bin Laden’s files show extensive collusion between the Taliban and al Qaeda—a finding that further complicates the Obama administration’s ill-conceived effort to split the two. And Bruce Riedel, a former Obama adviser, told the Hindustan Times that bin Laden’s files show he had a close relationship with the head of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based terrorist group closely allied with al Qaeda that was responsible for the siege of Mumbai in November 2008. Riedel explained, in fact, that the files “suggested a much larger direct al Qaeda role in the planning of the Mumbai attacks than many assumed.”
How many files, in total, were captured in bin Laden’s compound? Why haven’t more of bin Laden’s files been released? If Obama and Brennan are serious about “shar[ing] as much information as possible with the American people,” then most of bin Laden’s cache should be made available to the public.