This seems like a good time to go air some speculation about an aspect of this case. As I mentioned, I didn’t feel comfortable pushing this out at the Washington Independent — my day job, my professional crew, and the good people who have supported and funding my trip here — because it’s so speculative. But I’ve already begun pursuing responses for the record in reference to what follows in the interest of having something more solid for TWI. Consider this a potential prequel.
Three interrogators from three different U.S. agencies who interrogated Khadr in 2002 and 2003, at Bagram and in Guantanamo, have testified so far. All have testified that they asked Khadr questions about al-Qaeda’s organizational structure, command structure and safehouses and training camps. Some have said that they received information of some specificity from Khadr about those locations. One of them, Interrogator Number 11, testified that part of what her mission when interrogating Khadr was to elicit information that could be used for targeting purposes on al-Qaeda installations, and that Khadr was, in general, very cooperative with her.
Yet what no interrogator here — so far — has testified is that information from Khadr resulted in any actionable intelligence. That catch-all term of art for information that contributes to an operation has simply not arisen during these first three interrogations. During the lifespan of the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities, government spokespeople, military commanders and senior officials have often used that phrase, in general, to describe in a vague sense the intelligence value of detainees kept here.
So it piques my curiosity that three interrogators have not used that term in reference to Khadr, during the time period in which he was likeliest to deliver perishable information (his early capture), and prosecution has not questioned them down that road. Interrogator Number 11 testified that as early as late 2002, less than six months after his capture, there was at least the beginnings of a discussion about repatriation. It is unlikely that such a discussion, at whatever level, would have occurred if there was reason to believe Khadr could produce any actionable intelligence. That’s not to say that information about al-Qaeda chain of command, organizational structure and former safehouses/training camps doesn’t have value as historical information. But that sort of information is a different and lower priority than information that can contribute to counterterrorism operations.
As I say, I’m trying to pursue something more solid here, and so check the Washington Independent when and if that pans out. But the feed returned at 8:48 a.m. in court for a return to open session, so I need to take notes about that now.