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FBI interrogator says cookies more effective than torture

By Chris V. Thangham     May 30, 2009 in Politics
A former FBI interrogator told a Canadian radio show that cookies are more effective than torture in getting information from terrorists. Torture sessions only take longer and it get more useless information.
Ali Soufan, a former FBI interrogator, spoke to CBC Radio’s “As It Happens” where he discussed how they've got useful information without resorting to torture.
Soufan said whenever they needed information about a “ticking bomb” situation, a good psychological interrogator can establish rapport with the imprisoned terrorists in hours. Water boarding, on the other hand, requires more than a dozen sessions and days of sleep deprivation to get any information from a prisoner, he said. And when they get it, the information can’t always be trusted.
Soufan interrogated Osama bin Laden's lieutenant, Abu Jandal, a diabetic. Jandal was offered sugar cookies, which he refused when served with tea.
In order to establish a rapport with him, Soufan bought sugar-less cookies the next time around. Jandal quickly began to trust Soufan and other interrogators for showing him respect.
Soufan told Time’s Bobby Ghosh:
"We had showed him respect, and we had done this nice thing for him. 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.”
Soufan said after that, Jandal didn’t think of the interrogators as evil Americans and considered them to be human beings.
Soufon's colleague, a former military interrogator, also said torture was not an effective method of gathering intel. The interrogator told Raw Story torture policies have cost hundreds if not thousands of American lives.
“Torture does not save lives...And the reason why is that our enemies use it, number one, as a recruiting tool…These same foreign fighters who came to Iraq to fight because of torture and abuse….literally cost us hundreds if not thousands of American lives.”
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