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Argument: Guantanamo is key to information gathering in the war on terror

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Thomas Joscelyn. "Clear and Present Danger". The Weekly Standard. December 1, 2008 - The 14 were originally held not at Guantánamo, but at even more controversial black sites. And the "enhanced interrogation techniques" that have sparked international outrage were principally designed for them. One may doubt the necessity and morality of these techniques, including waterboarding, while still recognizing a fundamentally important point: The 14 high value detainees are not ordinary criminals, but perpetrators of an entirely different order of evil.

It is because of these men, in particular, that the Bush administration initiated the preventive detention regime of which Guantánamo is a part. Processing them as mere lawbreakers would not have advanced the war on terror. To read them their rights and provide them lawyers would have been to throw away their intelligence value. It would have allowed them to carry to the grave many details of still active terrorist plots. The Bush administration chose a different route-harsh interrogations designed to ferret out al Qaeda's current operations before it was too late to stop them or capture those involved.

[...] If the new administration follows the vision set forth by candidate Obama, terrorists such as KSM, Binalshibh, al-Baluchi, and al-Hawsawi will be tried in our federal courts with the same constitutional protections as American citizens including the presumption of innocence. But trying elite terrorists for their crimes does nothing to expose the unconsummated plots they had already set in motion at the time of their capture. Had the Bush administration taken this approach, it is likely that America would have failed to stop many al Qaeda terrorist operations that were in fact foiled.

For example, in his autobiography, At the Center of the Storm, former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet explained that KSM's interrogation led to the arrest of an entire cell that was plotting destruction. The same day KSM was detained in 2003, another terrorist named Majid Khan was picked up. During his interrogation, KSM admitted that Khan had recently passed along $50,000 to operatives working for al Qaeda's chieftain in Southeast Asia, a man known as Hambali. When interrogators confronted Khan with KSM's revelation, Khan confirmed it and said that he gave the money to an agent of Hambali named Zubair. Khan gave his interrogators Zubair's telephone number. Shortly thereafter, Zubair was taken into custody and gave up information that led to the arrest of yet another operative nicknamed "Lilie." According to Tenet, Lilie then provided information that led to Hambali's arrest in Thailand.

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