Posted by Lex, on October 8, 2010
In the WSJ, former US Attorney General Michael Mukasey muses on our good fortune in sweeping up German citizen Ahmed Sidiqi in Afghanistan. Sidiqi was plotting Mumbai-style massacres in Evropa, and his interrogation by US captors there revealed a treasure trove of information that military and intelligence agencies swiftly acted upon:
A German citizen of Afghan descent captured in Afghanistan disclosed a plot to American interrogators at the Bagram Air Field prison. The plan, Ahmed Sidiqi said, was to conduct coordinated attacks on tourists in European cities, and it involved other naturalized German citizens from Afghanistan. U.S. authorities issued a terrorism alert to travelers, and on Monday five of the conspirators, along with three Pakistanis and three others of undisclosed nationality, were killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan.
So far so good. One captured terrorist in military custody since July—at a location that prevents him, at least for the moment, from hauling his captors into a U.S. court—discloses valuable intelligence that appears to have headed off, at least for the moment, an atrocity.
This was doubly fortunate, for not only was the German citizen discovered before the plot could come to its barbaric fruition, but he was captured by the military, in Afghanistan. Had he been captured here at home by federal constabulary, we might would not have been so lucky:
Detaining terrorist conspirators for intelligence-gathering purposes—wholly apart from whatever they may be charged with planning or doing—does not appear to be an option for this administration, certainly not if they are apprehended in this country while seeking to detonate a bomb in an airplane over Detroit or in an SUV near Times Square. Those who joined the orgy of self-congratulation after this week’s sentencing of Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad might, when they sober up, consider what we did not find out about who sent him and who else may be on the way— because Shahzad was valued more as a defendant than as an intelligence source…
Like Gulliver in the land of the Lilliputians, we seem tied down; unlike Gulliver, we have woven and tied the strings ourselves.
In an increasingly chaotic world, the moral high ground can be a lonely and windswept place. Or it can be a good place to site your artillery.