After years of watching the Bush administration get the third-in-command al Qaeda leadership - a very dangerous position - we finally have the pleasure of capturing the number two man for the Taliban in Karachi, Pakistan. This was a direct result of a joint American-Pakistan intelligence operation, and they have been interrogating the man for more than a week prior to the announcement.
The commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, is an Afghan described by American officials as the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the American-led war in Afghanistan started more than eight years ago. He ranks second in influence only to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder and a close associate of Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks.
The participation of Pakistan’s spy service could suggest a new level of cooperation from Pakistan’s leaders, who have been ambivalent about American efforts to crush the Taliban. Increasingly, the Americans say, senior leaders in Pakistan, including the chief of its army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, have gradually come around to the view that they can no longer support the Taliban in Afghanistan — as they have quietly done for years — without endangering themselves. Indeed, American officials have speculated that Pakistani security officials could have picked up Mullah Baradar long ago.
The officials said that Pakistan was leading the interrogation of Mullah Baradar, but that Americans were also involved. The conditions of the questioning are unclear. In its first week in office, the Obama administration banned harsh interrogations like waterboarding by Americans, but the Pakistanis have long been known to subject prisoners to brutal questioning.
Marc Thiessen and Joby Warrick, who have both recently criticized the Obama administration for not capturing more Taliban and al Qaeda operatives, will no doubt be pleased to know that we didn't blow him up and that we do in fact capture high-value targets for interrogation. You know, the way Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, once the top al Qaeda terrorist in Iraq, was killed by an air raid in 2006. I mean, it's not as if there was a body count of how many insurgents and terrorists were killed every year. The only question now is how quickly we're going to hear calls to torture Baradar for his information. I'm sure the Republicans are already working on their Jack Bauer analogies. See Eric Bolling, in the clip above, call for Baradar to be waterboarded.
As Spencer Ackerman has noted, it's pretty important that we do not waterboard this guy (although Dick Cheney is probably salivating at the opportunity). About the worst thing that could happen is that the Taliban would turn Baradar into a martyr and use his capture and interrogation as some kind of recruiting message. Which is, of course, exactly what Faux News and friends (along with Glenn Beck) want us to do... Conservative pundits - the least serious people on national security issues.
Beck, in fact, just wants us to "shoot him in the head" because those weak-kneed liberals in the Obama administration will wind up just releasing him in a primary school: