Skip to comments.Gold Block, ICE Man, and Mom: Welcome to Guantanamo Bay
Posted on 09/15/2005 7:23:18 AM PDT by Valin
BUT FOR THE LONG BEARDS and hair, the 520 terrorists held at Gitmo would probably not arouse suspicion in most big cities. Most could, as they have in the past, fit in all too well in polite society. About 10 percent of them are medical doctors, aircraft pilots, engineers, aviation experts, and lawyers. All of them -- from the lowliest would-be suicide bomber to the guy who has a graduate degree from Embry-Riddle aviation school in Arizona -- are eager to return to their chosen life's work: murder. The Embry-Riddle grad is an al Qaeda weapons smuggler.
Of the 520 about 100 are identified, for intelligence purposes, as high-value detainees. Some of the latter, about 30, are proving to be a virtual gold mine of information on how terrorists operate, who they are, how they move, and how they move money to pay for their terrorist acts. The rest are uncooperative and refuse to tell our interrogators anything of value. They are the ones we need to reach.
Up against the cream of the terrorist crop, we have our best. A very un-homogeneous bunch of civilian and military interrogators, intelligence analysts, and linguists. I visited with several, but two of them are firmly etched in my mind. We wouldn't publish their names or ranks because any identification could put them or their families in danger. Call them "ICE Man" and "Mom."
The ICE Man is just what you'd expect a military intelligence officer to be. Short hair, big glasses, and bursting with pent-up energy. He runs one of the "Interrogation Control Elements" on Gitmo's "gold block," an air-conditioned cement block building where the high-value detainees are brought for questioning. His voice is soft, but when he talks to you, his eyes drift. He's not rude, just multi-tasking, obviously thinking about each of the ongoing interrogations at the same time. His intel teams usually include one interrogator and interpreter who sit in one of the stark white rooms with the prisoner. An intelligence analyst monitors the interrogation, recording the results by various means and occasionally communicating with the interrogator. The interrogations usually last up to three hours. They take breaks to consult or to let the prisoner answer the call to prayer that comes every few hours.
A few months ago, one of the investigators of alleged abuses at Gitmo -- which represent a handful of incidents out of about 28,000 interrogations -- told me he feared all the investigations were creating a paranoia among the interrogators. He said they were "clamped up," meaning they were reluctant to push the interrogations, and not doing all they could within the law and Defense Department regulations. I asked the ICE Man: Are your guys like the Volvo repairman? Only doing what's in the manual, and refusing to do anything else?
Looking at me like I was a little nuts, he said that there was no fear of investigators, because his people were doing the right thing all the time. There was no need to push the envelope, said one of his commanders, because they are getting an almost steady flow of good info from the cooperative captives. But what about the 70 percent of the high-value prisoners who are uncooperative? For them, there's the calming influence of the lady many of them call "Mom."
SHE BEARS NO PHYSICAL RESEMBLANCE to Barbara Bush. The thing you can't escape noticing about "Mom" is her eyes. Large and ice-blue, there's a fire burning behind them. She speaks in bursts, packing a lot of thought into very few words. Multilingual, she can communicate directly with the prisoners, which gives her an edge most of the interrogators don't have.
She makes her own luck: by gradually winning the trust of these hard cases, she seems to be getting some to talk even after years of silence. She spends every waking moment planning, conducting, and analyzing interrogations. In the brief time I visited with her, I got the same feeling that I often get talking to one of the SEALs or Green Beanies. She's someone who knows how to fight the kind of war she's in, and takes a great deal of pride in the results she's getting. She has, according to her bosses, gotten long-silent detainees to talk sometimes by the simplest tactic of switching the interrogator who's assigned to a given detainee. Known throughout the camps, she has so gained their confidence that sometimes, when an uncooperative detainee finally decides to talk, he asks for "Mom." They want to talk to her, and no one else. She, the ICE Man, and the others are producing a treasure trove of intelligence. Consider just a few examples of what they've learned.
The Gitmo interrogators understand what few of us do: terrorists are a clannish bunch. When you capture one, and he talks about his extended family and friends, he's naming people who need to be checked out and are good candidates to be captured. According to accounts published by the Gitmo Joint Task Force (JTF-GTMO), some of the detainees were trainers in al Qaeda camps, and have identified former students who are -- for the moment -- still on the loose. Others provided information on people involved in al Qaeda's pursuit of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.
One detainee -- a senior member of an international "charitable" organization -- detailed how that organization provided, according to one report, "significant and prolonged aid to support both the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan." Another identified a complex detonation system for improvised explosive devices that had been used in Chechnya, assisting American forces in Iraq to defeat this weapon.
Some detainees, who were al Qaeda recruiters or facilitators -- helping terrorists move internationally -- have given information on how they performed their tasks. Several detainees have provided details about al Qaeda, Taliban, and other terrorists operating in Central Asia, Europe, and in the United States. And while they give up this information, many of the detainees condemn themselves with their own words.
According to JTF-GTMO reports, one detainee said that he would take revenge on the U.S. and Saudi governments: "I will arrange for the kidnapping and execution of U.S. citizens living in Saudi Arabia. Small groups of four or five U.S. citizens will be kidnapped, held, and executed. They will have their heads cut off." Another, a self-confessed al Qaeda member, said that "his group will shake up the U.S. and other countries who follow the U.S.," and that "it is not the quantity of power, but the quality of power, that will win in the end."
The JTF-GTMO commander, Brigadier General Jay Hood, told me that the detainees believe we'll have to close Gitmo because of all the political heat we 're taking. Won't happen. We can never turn terrorists we capture loose again in the world. More than that, we have to prove, by word and deed, to those still at large, and the nations that support them, that the quality of our power is equal to the quantity. That quality is being demonstrated daily by our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen. And by people such as the ICE Man and Mom.
Jed Babbin, an American Spectator contributing editor, is also author of Inside the Asylum: Why the UN and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think (Regnery, 2004).
When the British were suppressing the Thug (stranglers) cult in India, they had the same problem--what to do with the most fanatic members of the cult. In the end, they were unable to release some of them, and had to keep them locked up until they died.
Probably might have to do the same here.
Several hundred bullets (one for each of these animals) is much cheaper.
Being fanatics, they don't fear death much. However, they do fear living the rest of their lives in a cage while worrying about what their women are doing in their absence! Keep 'em locked up forever.
There are reasons why we don't just kill them. Several can be found in the article.
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