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What’s the Elite Interrogation Team for If Not Baradar?

Mark Hosenball:

[F]ive U.S. officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, tell Declassified that the HIG—which the Obama administration has billed as a less-controversial alternative to the Bush administration’s use of secret CIA prisons and “enhanced” interrogation techniques that human rights advocates had described as torture—is not being deployed to participate in the questioning of Mullah Baradar. Some of the officials say they find this puzzling, since Baradar, who before his capture served as the Afghan Taliban’s top military commander, is widely believed to possess information that might be very useful to U.S. and allied forces fighting his Taliban comrades in Afghanistan.

So the U.S. now has access to the deputy Taliban commander, captured in Pakistan, but it’s not sending its elite team of interrogators, the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group? Who’s more high-value a detainee?

There’s a benign explanation that Hosenball doesn’t consider — probably for good reason! — and that’s that Baradar isn’t so much of an intelligence resource as he is a diplomatic bargaining chip to compel the Afghan Taliban to talk terms with the Karzai government (in a manner favorable to Pakistani interests). Is that likely? No idea. (Other Afghan Taliban arrests have already been credited to information from Baradar, but that’s still theoretically commensurate with the Baradar-as-diplomatic-tool explanation.) Either way: I no longer have any clarity on what the HIG is for.

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