Terry Jeffrey

Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, according to the 9-11 commission report, was the mastermind of the Oct. 12, 2000, attack on the U.S.S. Cole that killed 17 U.S. sailors.

Nashiri was also the target of an "unauthorized" CIA interrogation technique (that had not been legally vetted by the Justice Department) that is described in a May 7, 2004, CIA inspector general's report that was partially declassified by the Obama administration this week.

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CIA officers blew smoke in Nashiri's face, according to the report, and they used cigars.

The IG's office described this smoke-blowing as one of several "unauthorized or undocumented techniques" it discovered had been used in isolated incidents by CIA employees interrogating high-level al-Qaida terrorists.

"An Agency (redacted phrase) interrogator admitted that, in December 2002, he and another (redacted phrase) smoked cigars and blew cigar smoke in al-Nashiri's face during the interrogation," said the IG report.

The IG, however, was unable to clearly establish that the smoke-blowing was intended to force Nashiri to cough up what he knew about al-Qaida's plans.

"The interrogator claimed they did this to 'cover the stench' in the room and to help keep the interrogators alert late at night," said the IG report. "This interrogator said he would not do this again based on 'perceived criticism.' Another agency interrogator admitted that he also smoked cigars during two sessions with al-Nashiri to mask the stench in the room. He claimed he did not deliberately force smoke into al-Nashiri's face." The interrogators learned their lesson: Don't blow smoke at terrorists.

In a more serious incident, a CIA interrogator reported that some unspecified interrogators told Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the mastermind of the 9-11 attacks, that they would kill his children if America was attacked again.

"An experienced agency interrogator reported that the (redacted) interrogators threatened Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (redacted)," said the IG report. "According to this interrogator, the (redacted) interrogators said to Khalid Sheikh Muhammad that if anything else happens in the United States, 'We're going to kill your children.' According to the interrogator, one of the (redacted) interrogators said (redacted)."

An obvious question: What is the word or phrase in this passage that has been redacted in three instances from immediately before the word "interrogators"? All we know for sure is the government thinks it should remain secret.


Terry Jeffrey

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSNews

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