The headline above a recent Stars and Stripes article caught my eye, because it included four words — the uniformed military balked — that became familiar to me as I conducted an exhaustive four-year investigation into the federal government’s use of credibility assessment and interrogation technologies.
Those four words reminded me of the memos issued by three top DoD officials in an attempt to remove one interrogation technology from the toolkits of our nation’s top military and intelligence warfighters. Worth repeating is the fact that it took three memos, because most warfighters simply refused to give up the tool after the first two memos were issued in June 2004 and in 2007. In other words, the uniformed military balked. It was only after a third memo was issued in June 2008 that the technology was finally removed from warfighters’ toolkits.
Some of our nation’s top warfighters described their reactions to the memo-backed efforts to take away one of their most-effective interrogation tools.
A former member of the Navy SEALs, who spoke with me on the condition I not reveal his identity, said the second memo, issued by then-Under Secretary of Defense James R. Clapper Jr., was a contributing factor in his decision to retire from the military much earlier than he could have. He went on to say that the people responsible for efforts to remove that technology from the hands of warfighters “should face charges and do time.”
A former Army Green Beret, who used the now-banned technology to conduct some 500 interrogations of enemy combatants and other detainees, spoke with me under the same condition. He told me he “would testify in front of Congress that this piece of equipment is essential for (Human Intelligence) personnel on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. If they want to save lives, they’ve got to put this piece of equipment back into that theater. Every unit should have this equipment.”
Why did members of the uniformed military balk at giving up this particular piece of interrogation technology? Because it works far better than any kind of torture or “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
There’s only one place where you’ll find the details about how well this technology worked with detainees at Guantanamo Bay, on members of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle (a.k.a., “The Deck of Cards”) and on members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban — inside the pages of my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo.
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