U.S. explores new way to query terror suspects

WASHINGTON — A Justice Department-led task force reviewing interrogation policy is leaning toward the creation of a small, specialized unit to question without the use of coercion any future high-value terrorism suspects captured by the United States, according to administration officials. The unit would draw personnel from intelligence, military and law enforcement agencies.

President Barack Obama ordered an interagency review of interrogation policy in January. The task force, led by a federal prosecutor steeped in national security issues, was charged with determining whether interrogation guidelines in the Army Field Manual are sufficient for other agencies, such as the CIA, that may capture and question suspects outside the United States.

The task force is scheduled to present preliminary recommendations to the White House this week. An administration official said it has yet to be determined which specific interrogation techniques might be allowed and how new, noncoercive techniques might be developed. Administration officials spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity because the task force has not reported to the president and because its deliberations are private.

The new unit would probably mine suspects for actionable intelligence rather than for evidence to be used against them in criminal cases, one official said. But the task force is nonetheless considering how to preserve the ability to prosecute in some circumstances, the official said.

It is unclear who will lead the new unit and in which agency it will be housed, but an official familiar with the deliberations said that "based on where things stand now, the CIA isn't slated to be the lead on whatever plan is put into place."

U.S. explores new way to query terror suspects 07/18/09 [Last modified: Saturday, July 18, 2009 10:39pm]

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