When Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, who encouraged jihad against the United States, was arrested and flown from Jordan to this country last year, it might have seemed unlikely that he would be willing to say much.
But whatever reticence he might have had was quickly lost.
“I am willing to tell you anything, and will not hold back,” he said. He soon waived his Miranda rights, according to an F.B.I. summary of his interrogation. He also said, “You will hear things of Al Qaeda that you never imagined.”
The defendant, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who was sentenced to life in prison last month, offered a trove of information, some of which was later used against him in court.
And he was far from alone. …
Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani immigrant who tried to detonate a car bomb in Times Square in 2010, spent two weeks being questioned about “sensitive national security and law enforcement matters,” after waiving his right to a lawyer and a speedy court appearance, the government said. He laterpleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.
In his book, Leon Panetta explained that after the Underwear Bomber was Mirandized, he confessed and told everything. Panetta made it seem like good police work.
Less noted was what happened after Abdulmutallab was informed of his right to remain silent and to have a lawyer. After first shutting up, he then relented and talked at length. It was Abdulmutallab who revealed that Anwar al-Awlaki had personally sent him on his terrorist mission. And it was Abdulmutallab who told FBI agents that the person who made the bomb that he carried in his underwear that day was Ibrahim al-Asiri, brother of the young man who had tried to kill Prince bin Nayef. Those statements helped us better understand the workings of Al Qaeda in Yemen and ultimately led to Awlaki’s elimination. Importantly, investigators coaxed those admissions from Abdulmutallab without duress. He was not denied sleep or stripped naked, much less waterboarded. His confessions were the result of patient, clever interrogation of a suspect who had been read his rights and who nevertheless elected to cooperate with skillful questioners— proof that civil liberties and expert, aggressive investigations can and do coexist.
Or maybe they were just terrified of being waterboarded at a Black Site.
Some defendants in the civilian court system cite the specter of the government’s methods of torture, like waterboarding, at secret C.I.A. sites, for the extraction of information.
Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, an alleged Libyan Qaeda operative who was captured last year in Tripoli, waived his rights and gave an incriminating statement while being questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, prosecutors have said.
He has pleaded not guilty and moved to suppress his statement on the grounds that it followed “countless hours of abusive interrogation” by the C.I.A. that left him confused, afraid and vulnerable to being pressured into waiving his rights, his lawyer wrote in a court filing.
“I was convinced that I would end up in one of C.I.A.’s black site torture prisons,” Mr. Ruqai, whose nom de guerre is Abu Anas al-Libi, said in a separate filing. By the time he spoke to the F.B.I., he said, his ability to make a voluntary decision about whether to speak “was long since gone.”
Prosecutors say that Mr. Ruqai’s statement was made only after he “knowingly and voluntarily waived his Miranda rights.” A judge is holding a hearing on the matter on Wednesday.
Fascinating and disturbing report.