Guns and Gear

National Defense Authorization Act Shows Terrorists Our Interrogation Program

Harold Hutchison Freelance Writer
Font Size:

Imagine if your favorite NFL team was told that they could no longer use some of their most effective plays. Not only are they prohibited from using those plays, but they would be permanently limited to a more basic playbook, which they would have to make available to the general public. You’d probably be outraged, and want to know who the architect of such an unbelievably stupid approach was.

Well, believe it or not, as a result of the National Defense Authorization Act signed by Barack Obama, a limited playbook that has been made public is all that the CIA (or whatever other government agency) can use interrogations of high-value terrorists it captures. This time, we know who the architects of this eventually lethal folly are – thanks to a boastful press release from the Minnesota Peace Project.

As has been previously reported by the Daily Caller, the McCain-Feinstein Amendment that passed in June, and was signed into law the day before Thanksgiving limits all interrogators to using only those techniques described in the Army Field Manual. In short, techniques that broke high-ranking al-Qaeda members like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah are now off the table indefinitely (until Congress can repeal that provision, which may take until 2017 at the earliest). That’s a bad enough blow to our efforts to prevent the next 9/11.

In Courting Disaster, Marc Theissen revealed that even when George W. Bush acknowledged the existence of the CIA’s interrogation program, he would not disclose the techniques used to break those terrorists. “I cannot describe the specific methods used. I think you understand why; if I did, it would help the terrorists learn how to resist questioning and to keep information from us that we need to prevent new attacks on our country,” Bush said in his September 2006 speech.

That is no longer the case. In 2009, Obama released information on the techniques used after a very flawed report by the International Committee of the Red Cross that accepted claims from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah at face value was leaked to a left-wing reporter. While America learned the truth about those techniques, so did America’s enemies. Now, a far more limited number of options, those listed in the manual, are available. The fact that versions of this manual can be purchased at makes the foolhardiness of the McCain-Feinstein Amendment even more apparent.

Jose Rodriguez noted about al-Qaeda operatives in Hard Measures, “They have been trained to resist interrogation and consider it a major victory if they can hold out just long enough for another major attack that they were privy to be carried out.” It would be a safe assumption that the same would be true for senior operatives of the Islamic State or other terrorist groups.

The restrictions on interrogations might have been mitigated by signals intelligence (SIGINT), but America’s capabilities on that front have also been compromised, thanks to the leaks by Edward Snowden, and legislation passed in response to that controversy. While much of the focus was on the NSA’s domestic metadata collection, Snowden also compromised a number of operations abroad. A few months ago, the United Kingdom had to pull spies out of Russia and China as a result of Snowden’s disclosures, and in November, the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point revealed that an ISIS manual cited Snowden’s revelations as it instructed members on how to maintain a low profile.

So, now, the intelligence community whose job it is to protect the United States from another Mumbai, Madrid, London, Paris, or 9/11, has seen its hands tied, and its methods compromised. Like it or not, the Minnesota Peace Project has just made things easier for the terrorists.

Harold Hutchison