Thursday, September 15, 2011

He was there when the United States adopted torture ...

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

If you've been following this story, you already know what FBI special agent Ali Soufan explains in this interview: this experienced interrogator was making good headway with getting an al-Qaeda prisoner to talk -- until the CIA insisted on bringing in a contractor to torture the guy. The Bureau ordered Soufan to leave the investigation -- to get away from the scene of the crime, as it were.

Soufan has a new book about this and other investigations of terrorism in which he has been a central figure. A Lebanese-America, he was one of only eight Arabic speakers in his agency before 9/11. In one of his promotional interviews (can't find a transcript), he was asked whether the United States now has more Arabic speakers in its security apparatus. Very quietly, he said that many had been sent to language school, but he wasn't sure if there were really any more native speakers today than in the early 2000s when he played an investigative role.

The full Frontline episode is available at the link. H/t Andrew Sullivan.

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