Did I mention this was a true story?
The most successful interrogation of an Al-Qaeda operative by U.S. officials required no sleep deprivation, no slapping or "walling" and no waterboarding. All it took to soften up Abu Jandal, who had been closer to Osama bin Laden than any other terrorist ever captured, was a handful of sugar-free cookies.
Time supplies the pertinent background information:
Abu Jandal had been in a Yemeni prison for nearly a year when Ali Soufan of the FBI and Robert McFadden of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service arrived to interrogate him in the week after 9/11. Although there was already evidence that al-Qaeda was behind the attacks, American authorities needed conclusive proof, not least to satisfy skeptics like Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, whose support was essential for any action against the terrorist organization. U.S. intelligence agencies also needed a better understanding of al-Qaeda's structure and leadership. Abu Jandal was the perfect source: the Yemeni who grew up in Saudi Arabia had been bin Laden's chief bodyguard, trusted not only to protect him but also to put a bullet in his head rather than let him be captured.
Unsurprisingly, Abu Jandal did everything in his power to not cooperate with the American interrogators. He went on rants about how the United States was evil and intimidated guards to a point where they felt they had to mask their identities. So naturally, Soufan and company were faced with a choice regarding what to do next: would they employ "enhanced interrogation techniques" or would they try something else?
Soufan noticed that Abu Jandal did not eat any of the cookies that were brought to him. This was because he was diabetic. So when it came time to question him further, the Americans brought sugar-free cookies. The result?
At their next meeting, the Americans brought him some sugar-free cookies, a gesture that took the edge off Abu Jandal's angry demeanor. "We had showed him respect, and we had done this nice thing for him," Soufan recalls. "So he started talking to us instead of giving us lectures."
It took more questioning, and some interrogators' sleight of hand, before the Yemeni gave up a wealth of information about al-Qaeda — including the identities of seven of the 9/11 bombers — but the cookies were the turning point. "After that, he could no longer think of us as evil Americans," Soufan says. "Now he was thinking of us as human beings."
Dear God, a human gesture yields human dialogue? Whoddathunkit? I'm not under the illusion that methods of this nature will work each time we employ them, but this is an example of a broader strategy we should be adopting that Bill Clinton summed up perfectly in his DNC speech: "People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power."
Anyway, aren't patronizing quotes like this funny now?
Liberals want us to offer captured terrorists tea and cookies to get information from them.