The United States' capture of three top Taliban officials inside Pakistan in a joint operation with Pakistani intelligence agents couldn't come at a better time for American and NATO forces fighting in neighboring Afghanistan. But it also raises renewed questions about the administration's detention and interrogation policies.
Presumably, these captured Taliban leaders are being held in Pakistani facilities, which is a good thing since the U.S. now has no viable alternatives of its own. President Obama closed the CIA's overseas prisons in his first days in office and banned so-called enhanced interrogation techniques used to obtain intelligence from those captured. So now we're left to rely on the Pakistanis, which puts us in a rather precarious position. Thankfully, the Pakistanis have finally become partners in the fight against the Taliban, but it hasn't always been so. For years, Pakistan gave virtual safe haven to Taliban fighters, and its own intelligence service was believed to be filled with those sympathetic to the jihadists.
But who knows how long the current cooperation will continue. And even if Pakistani cooperation persists, there are troubling issues surrounding our reliance on third parties to do our dirty work. What exactly do those who supported President Obama's decision to close down CIA prisons and ban harsh interrogation methods think is going on inside the Pakistani sites where these captured Taliban leaders are being held? Somehow, I don't see Pakistani intelligence officers referring to the Army Field Manual or consulting the Geneva Conventions in deciding how they will interrogate these new prisoners.
Indeed, the whole Obama administration philosophy when it comes to dealing with terrorists can be summarized in one word: hypocrisy. The administration has stepped up its use of drones to kill suspected terrorists in places like Yemen, and has even admitted that it will target U.S. citizens suspected of being terrorists. News organizations reported that President Obama personally approved on Christmas Eve an attempted assassination of American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who had ties to both the Army major accused of killing 13 persons in the Fort Hood massacre and the Nigerian man who tried to bring down a U.S. airliner near Detroit on Christmas Day.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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