CIA in­ter­ro­ga­tions

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

CIA Di­rec­tor Michael V. Hay­den re­vealed last week, in de­fend­ing agency in­ter­ro­ga­tions of ter­ror­ists, that more than 70 per­cent of the intelligence used in a re­cent na­tional es­ti­mate came from ques­tion­ing cap­tured ter­ror­ists.

“The last six years have shown us that the best sources of in­for­ma­tion on ter­ror­ists and their plans are the ter­ror­ists them­selves,” Mr. Hay­den said in a speech Oct. 30 in Chicago.

Call­ing the intelligence “sim­ply ir­re­place­able,” he also noted that the elicited in­for­ma­tion “is the sole rea­son we have ren­di­tion, de­ten­tion and in­ter­ro­ga­tion pro­grams.”

Fewer than 100 of the most hard­ened cap­tured ter­ror­ists have been put through in­ter­ro­ga­tion since 2002. “Of those, less than a third have re­quired any spe­cial meth­ods of ques­tion­ing,” Mr. Hay­den said.

The CIA di­rec­tor said the Na­tional Intelligence Es­ti­mate con­firmed that the dan­ger of an­other ma­jor al Qaeda at­tack against the U.S. is real. Al Qaeda aims “to ex­e­cute a spec­tac­u­lar at­tack that would cause mass ca­su­al­ties, mas­sive de­struc­tion and eco­nomic harm,” he said.

Mr. Hay­den noted that the es­ti­mate was less cer­tain about one key el­e­ment of al Qaeda plans: the pres­ence of group op­er­a­tives inside the U.S.

The CIA di­rec­tor’s com­ments are a tacit ad­mis­sion that the agency con­tin­ues to have a dif­fi­cult time plant­ing spies inside or close to al Qaeda and other ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Bill Gertz cov­ers the Pen­tagon. He can be reached at 202/636-3274 or at bgertz@wash­ing­ton­

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