Back to Index

Guatanamo Prisoners

The issue of the Guantanamo prisoners have elicited angry comments from WAISers, Americans nearly all favorable, others nearly all critical. Secretary of State Colin Powell, a soldier, has distanced himself from the official position, while Secretary of Defense, once a champion wrestler, has slammed its critics to the floor. Who will win, the soldier ir the wrestler?

Tim Brown writes: "During my Marine career, one of my specialties was the interrogation of prisoners of war. Those being held in Guantanamo appear to me to have been selected as a pool for strategic interrogation. Battlefield interrogation,where the primary objective is operational intelligence of immediate value to on-going combat operations, can be a fairly quick process, and one of the interrogator's advantages is that the prisoner usually is suffering from post-capture stress. By contrast, strategic interrogation takes much longer and is intended to develop a broader body of intelligence that can be used at more senior levels when determining strategic approaches to an adversary. Since post-capture stress has often dissipated, the bigger advantage at the strategic level is the interrogation team's ability to compare and contrast information from many prisoners over an extended period of time, thus making comparisons and in-depth information development more possible. I would suspect those at GITMO were selected more for their possible knowledge and relative willingness to talk [with those who are most driven to bluster often the more useful because they have already voluntarily given up a Geneva Convention advantage], than for their positions in their prior organization, whether Al Quaida or the Taliban.

I'm also curious how we formally got our hands on them. Presumably, most were captured by anti-Taliban Afghans not us. So they would be anti-Taliban prisoners, not ours. Maybe we just have temporary custody for intelligence purposes? That's not as unusual as many may think. During WWII, Vietnam, and Korea, we occasionally took custody of prisoners captured by our allies, since we had the better intelligence resources at the strategic level. If that is the case then, once they have been interrogated, perhaps we could just send these prisoners back".

Ronald Hilton - 1/28/02