Sunday, July 19, 2009

Obama Weighs Special Team of Terror Interrogators

President Obama has promised to close Gitmo because of its history of so called "torture" techniques. In the process of this he has been releasing some of the prisoners to island resorts. He is also considering forming a new team of interrogators who may use the psychology behind television ads when questioning high profile detainees. But what can we expect from the Islamic catering Department of Justice?

JULY 18, 2009
U.S. Weighs Special Team of Terrorism Interrogators

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is considering overhauling the way terror suspects are interrogated by creating a small team of professionals drawn from across the government, according to people familiar with a proposal that will be submitted to the White House.

The new unit, comprising members of spy services and law-enforcement agencies, would be used for so-called high-value detainees, they said. In a switch from Bush-era efforts, it wouldn't be run by the Central Intelligence Agency, though who might be in charge isn't specified.

One of the team's tasks would likely be to devise a new set of interrogation methods, according to one person familiar with the proposal. Those techniques could be drawn from sources ranging from scientific studies to the psychology behind television ads.

The new interrogation team, if adopted, would represent the Obama administration's effort to sweep away a contentious counterterrorism issue that has dogged the CIA and Justice Department since a U.S. network of secret prisons was revealed in 2005.

The team would reduce the CIA's controversial role in interrogations, but the agency remains at odds with Congress. On Friday, the House intelligence committee launched a probe into whether the agency broke the law by withholding information from the panel about a secret plan examining al Qaeda hit teams as well as other matters.

CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said the agency will "work closely with the committee on this review."

There could, however, be some similarities with the approach taken by the Bush administration. The team's efforts, for example, would focus more on gathering intelligence than on assembling evidence suitable for use in a criminal trial.

In addition, the team would be asked to devise noncoercive procedures that may differ from the 19 permitted in the Army Field Manual, which include providing rewards for information and playing on a detainee's anxiety or other emotions. That document has emerged as a favored standard among many lawmakers and some human-rights groups.

Mr. Obama shut the network of secret CIA prisons on his second full day in office and launched two reviews -- one of interrogation practices and the other of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The interrogation proposal, written by a Justice Department-led task force, is being finalized and neither review will be completed by a Tuesday deadline.

There is general support within the Obama administration for a professional interrogation team from multiple agencies, said one person familiar with the task force recommendations. The debate is over the details of how to do it: who should be in charge, where it should be housed within the government, and what its composition will be.

It isn't clear whether Congress would have any special oversight role beyond its regular duties.

A Justice spokesman referred questions to the White House. White House spokesman Benjamin LaBolt said the president hasn't yet reviewed the proposal.

The CIA's Mr. Gimigliano said the agency is working with its counterparts "to produce a solution that honors the law and helps our country obtain the intelligence it needs."

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