(4 of 4)
While bits and pieces about Binalshibh and K.S.M. arrived from many sources, the key to capturing the former was information passed to the CIA by the Emir of Qatar--information taken from the files of an al-Jazeera reporter (the Emir owns the network) who secretly visited both terrorists in the Karachi apartment where Binalshibh was subsequently captured in September 2002. As for K.S.M., the key was a cooperative source who met with K.S.M., summarily called the CIA, guided agents to the terrorist's safe house, then collected his $25 million reward and is now safely relocated, with his extended family, somewhere in the U.S.
To be fair, the abusive interrogations of the 14 did lead to some actionable intelligence, but Bush's list fails to take into account the unnecessary costs of resorting to abuse--specifically, the lost opportunity to uncover more secrets by developing a rich captor-captive relationship, the loss of a democracy's moral authority and the poisoning of any eventual legal proceeding, which, of course, would disallow evidence gained through torture.
Five years after 9/11, Americans are understandably eager to finally get an unfiltered--read nonpoliticized--look at our "high value" captives, the transnational actors, so-called, at the center of global drama. An authentic legal process would give them that--which is why the Administration is dead set against it. The problem is not really with classified information. Most of what these captives told us is already common knowledge or dated; the U.S. hasn't caught any truly significant players in two years. However, discovery in such a case would show that the President and Vice President were involved in overseeing their interrogations, according to senior intelligence officials. Subpoenas on how evidence was obtained and who authorized what practices would go right into the West Wing.
By week's end, Republican Senators were challenging the President's narrow tribunal plan, pushing for something that looks and feels more like a genuine legal process. As to a court date for that "judicial process," which officially started last week? Unless the White House decides there's political capital to harvest and wants to move fast, think January ... 2009. Next Administration.
Suskind is the author of the best-selling book The One Percent Doctrine, first excerpted in TIME, about the war on terrorism