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CAP: You Can Give a Detainee a Lawyer and Get Good Intel

Building off Matt’s excellent post about today’s outbreak of GOP enthusiasm for torture and lawlessness, check out this just-released paper from Ken Gude at the

Dexter Cooke
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Jan 20, 2010

Building off Matt’s excellent post about today’s outbreak of GOP enthusiasm for torture and lawlessness, check out this just-released paper from Ken Gude at the Center for American Progress separating myths from facts about the military commissions, civilian courts, and interrogations with lawyers present. For instance, here’s Gude arguing against former Attorney General Michael Mukasey:

The evidence from recent terrorism investigations proves Judge Mukasey right that access to lawyers does not interfere with interrogating suspected terrorists. Nothing prohibits interrogations to continue after a suspect is given access to an attorney. In fact, terrorist suspects have given what U.S. officials call “an intelligence goldmine” after meeting with attorneys.

Brent Vinas, an American convert to Islam captured in Pakistan in 2008 and turned over to the FBI, has proven to be one of the U.S. government’s most valuable sources of information about Al Qaeda. From the moment Vinas was in American custody he had all the access to attorneys and other rights afforded criminal suspects, and he still produced what one intelligence official called a “treasure trove” of information about Al Qaeda. In more than 100 interviews with counterterrorism officials, Vinas provided information that led to a Predator drone strike that killed a suspected militant, and his information has allowed counterterrorism officials “to peer deep inside the inner workings of Al Qaeda.”

David Headly—also known as Daood Gilani—was arrested in Chicago and charged in connection with the 2008 Mumbai attack that left more than 150 people dead. Headly pleaded not guilty, but he is cooperating with prosecutors and helped U.S. officials uncover a plan by Lashkar-e-Taibi to unleash a similar attack in Copenhagen, Denmark, targeting the newspaper that printed cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. Meeting with his attorney has not prevented him from providing intelligence information that disrupted at least one terrorist plot.

After all, detainees give up information in plea deals.

A related point made in a recent post of mine: reading a detainee his Miranda rights doesn’t stop interrogations. It just means information used from those interrogations can’t be used in court.

Dexter Cooke | He is an orthopedic surgeon who insists that a physician's first priority should be patient care. He specializes in minimally invasive complete knee replacement surgery and laparoscopic procedures that reduce pain and recovery time. He graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina with a medical degree and a postdoctoral fellowship in orthopedic medicine.


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