WASHINGTON — Aboard a Navy warship, U.S. investigators are likely playing good cop/bad cop, shouting and banging their hands on a table to get suspected al-Qaida operative Abu Anas al-Libi to give up key intelligence. That's what they're allowed to do, anyway. What interrogators shouldn't be doing is putting a hood over al-Libi's head, waterboarding him or depriving him of food.
The Obama administration would only say that al-Libi was being treated "humanely" as he is held on the USS San Antonio after he was captured in a raid in Libya on Saturday. A team of U.S. investigators from the military, intelligence agencies and the Justice Department has been sent to question him, two law enforcement officials told the Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the operation.
"We know that al-Libi planned and helped execute plots that killed hundreds of people," Obama told a news conference Tuesday. "We have strong evidence of that, and he will be brought to justice."
While the U.S. once held people in secret prisons, questioned them over long periods of time, put duct tape over their eyes or forced them to strip naked, the Obama administration has swapped the secret "black sites" for battleships, acknowledged the capture and detention of a wanted terrorist, and promised to stick to approved interrogation tactics like making sure the detainee has four hours of continuous sleep in a 24-hour period.
Al-Libi had been sought for his role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa and has been under indictment since 2000.