CIA has slashed its terrorism interrogation role
The agency has stopped trying to detain or interrogate suspects caught abroad, except those captured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Reporting from Washington—
He's considered one of world's most dangerous terrorism suspects, and the U.S. offered a $1-million reward for his capture in 2005. Intelligence experts say he's a master bomb maker and extremist leader who possesses a wealth of information about Al Qaeda-linked groups in Southeast Asia.Read complete story: Los Angeles Times
Yet the U.S. has made no move to interrogate or seek custody of Indonesian militant Umar Patek since he was apprehended this year by officials in Pakistan with the help of a CIA tip, U.S. and Pakistani officials say.
The little-known case highlights a sharp difference between President Obama's counter-terrorism policy and that of his predecessor, George W. Bush. Under Obama, the CIA has killed more people than it has captured, mainly through drone missile strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas. At the same time, it has stopped trying to detain or interrogate suspects caught abroad, except those captured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The CIA is out of the detention and interrogation business," said a U.S. official who is familiar with intelligence operations but was not authorized to speak publicly.
Several factors are behind the change.
Widespread criticism of Bush administration interrogation and detention policies as brutal and degrading led Obama to stop sending suspected terrorists to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Public exposure also forced the CIA to close a network of secret prisons. That left U.S. officials with no obvious place to hold new captives.
U.S. Officials Insist Drones, Covert Operations in Pakistan to Continue Despite Recent Chill
Published April 12, 2011
The exchange between Panetta and Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, was the latest discussion between the two sides since CIA operative Raymond Davis was quietly removed from Pakistani custody after Davis shot and killed two Pakistanis in Lahore, setting off demonstrations in the country. Davis said he acted to fend off two gunmen trying to rob him. The families of the two deceased received a financial settlement.
Reports have suggested the Pakistanis came to town requesting more than 300 CIA operatives leave the country immediately and U.S. Predator drone strikes be halted, or at least restricted to a narrow part of North Waziristan, where they were initially carried out before President Obama and his national security team began expanding the program.
Last year, more than 119 drone strikes were carried out in Pakistan, but there hasn't been one since March 17.
Unconfirmed reports also said Pakistan wanted to eject 120 Special Ops forces who are training the Frontier Corps, but it is not clear whether the carefully timed leaks from Pakistani officials may have been a negotiating ploy to regain leverage in the relationship.
A U.S. official told Fox News that the Pakistanis are out "in a very public way" to make their case and appear to be using the Davis episode "as leverage."
The Pakistanis never seem to lose an opportunity "to take advantage of a crisis," the official said.
But the source, familiar with discussions between the two, said that while the Pakistanis have voiced a range of concerns in recent weeks, what they actually want depends on which Pakistani official is asked.
A CIA spokesman said the luncheon was an opportunity for the two sides to sit down and work on issues vital to counterterrorism operations.
"Today's exchange emphasized the need to continue to work closely together, including on our common fight against terrorist networks that threaten both countries," George Little said after the meeting Monday.
A U.S. official told Fox News that the meeting between Panetta and Pasha included a frank discussion, but the two leaders discussed common interests with a few concerns, "all of which can be sorted out."
"Panetta -- who made it clear that his first priority is protecting the American people -- and Pasha had a conversation that reflected a sense of partnership and desire to move forward. This wasn't some kind of ultimatum session, as some press reports have suggested it might be," the official said.
"The Pakistanis have asked for more visibility into some things, and that request is being talked about -- along with a host of other topics, including ways to further expand the partnership. The bottom line is that joint cooperation is essential to the security of the two nations. The stakes are too high," the official added.
Former CIA officials expressed skepticism that the ISI could be trusted to fight terrorism on its own without the current level of CIA staffing on the ground, citing the ISI's alliance with the Haqqani terror organization and the rise of the Taliban after the U.S. walked away from Afghanistan in the wake of the Soviet Union's defeat.
But Pakistani and U.S. officials confirm that a CIA tip led to Pakistan's capture this year of Indonesian Umar Patek, one of the accused masterminds behind the 2005 Bali, Indonesia, bombing. And U.S. officials add that some joint missions have been carried out despite the recent diplomatic impasse.
White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday said the relationship between Pakistan and the United States is important and the two sides have a shared goal of defeating insurgents. However, he would not discuss specifics of the cooperation.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner acknowledged that relations with Pakistan are going through a difficult time, but "it's not a one-dimensional relationship" and the two sides are rebuilding it.
"If you have got a bunch of operatives who are running around your country, if it had happened here in the United States, someone was shot dead in the center of Washington by one of those operatives, there'd be a cry in our country, too. I think we need to be thoughtful about that. They're insisting on knowing who is there and doing what and I think we can work through these kinds of things," Kerry said.
Kerry added that their government can do more to help "decharge" the atmosphere after incidents like the one involving Davis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen held meetings with Pasha on Tuesday to discuss those efforts.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was appearing with Kerry at a news conference on Internet privacy, added that he believes the Pakistanis "are becoming more and more convinced we are leaving Afghanistan," and since they remain in the region after the U.S. is gone, is covering all their bets.
Fox News' Jennifer Griffin, Catherine Herridge and Trish Turner and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Should U.S. Cut All Aid to Pakistan?
Apr 12, 2011
- 4:37 -
Amid strained relations, country reportedly asks U.S. to stop drone attacks and reduce CIA presence