Hamid Mir, a Pakistani, is the only journalist to have interviewed Osama bin Laden
and his deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri, since 9/11.
On the fifth anniversary of the attacks, Mr. Mir was in Afghanistan again, this time
to interview Abu Dawood, the new al Qaida field commander there.
Final preparations have been made for an "American Hiroshima," Mr. Dawood told him,
Mr. Mir said in an interview with Al Arabiya television last week. The attack or
attacks will be led by Adnan El Shukrijumah, Mr. Mir said.
Mr. El Shukrijumah was born in Saudi Arabia in 1975, but grew up in Brooklyn. He
was a friend of 9/11 hijack leader Mohammed Atta, and is both a trained nuclear
technician and a pilot. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $5 million for his
When Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the former al Qaida operations chief who planned the
9/11 attacks was captured in 2003, he reportedly told his interrogators that Mr. El
Shukrijumah would be in charge of the next major attack on America.
When al Qaida spokesmen say a big attack is imminent, I take it with a grain of
salt. They say that a lot, and I doubt very much that al Qaida has a nuclear bomb,
though a "dirty" bomb (radioactive materials wrapped around a conventional
explosive) is within their capabilities.
But I am sure that if Senate Democrats and a handful of renegade Republicans have
their way, we will never learn the details of this or any other plot by
interrogating captured al Qaida suspects.
Thanks to the Supreme Court's breathtaking overreach in the Hamdan case this summer,
which extended Geneva Convention protections to terrorists (who clearly are not
entitled to them), our ability to obtain information from captured terrorists is in
The problem is this provision of Article 3, which forbids: "Outrages upon personal
dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment."
But what constitutes "humiliating and degrading treatment?" CIA interrogators
who reportedly have been buying private insurance to protect them from lawsuits
want to know what is permissible for them to do, and what isn't.
Captured al Qaida operatives have given us a great deal of useful information. But
they haven't provided it out of the kindness of their hearts.
The CIA is understandably vague about the interrogation techniques it seeks to
protect, but according to Human Rights Watch, they are: "induced hypothermia;
forcing suspects to stand for long periods; sleep deprivation; a technique called
'the attention grab' where a suspect's shirt is forcefully seized; the 'attention
slap,' or open hand slapping that hurts but does not lead to physical damage; the
'belly slap," and sound and light manipulation."
The New York Times reported that Abu Zubaydah, the first al Qaida bigwig captured
after 9/11, was induced to talk by being kept in a freezing cell, and being forced
to listen to loud rock music.
John McCain (R-Ariz) and the other senators who are blocking efforts to clarify the
law argue that permitting the CIA to use the coercive techniques described above
would open the door to other countries torturing U.S. prisoners. They argue further
that any attempt to "amend" Article 3 would bring worldwide condemnation of the U.S.
The first argument is ludicrous; the second irrelevant.
The last time an enemy of the United States accorded our POWs the treatment they're
supposed to get under the Geneva Conventions was during World War II, which is
something Sen. McCain, who was tortured by the North Vietnamese, ought to know.
Consider the treatment of our last two POWs, taken by al Qaida in Iraq this summer.
One was beheaded after his chest was cut open. The other was brutally beaten before
he was killed.
To prepare them for torture if captured, American pilots and special forces soldiers
undergo harsher treatment in SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) training
than the CIA currently employs against al Qaida terrorists.
It is true the French won't like us if we use coercive interrogation techniques.
But the French won't like us even if we renounce them. And why do Sen. McCain & Co.
think French opinion should take precedence over the safety of Americans?
Adnan El Shukrijumah was last seen in Mexico in November, 2004, where he allegedly
stole a crop duster near Mexicali. He's plotting to kill as many of us as he can.
If he succeeds, give much of the credit to those in the Senate who want to cripple
our ability to listen in on terrorist communications; to track terror financing, and
to interrogate terror suspects.