How to Talk to a Terrorist
No more Mr. Nice Guy.

By Michael Ledeen

It seems that the FBI is having trouble getting information out of Arab terrorist suspects. According to bureau officials, the problem is that the suspects know that they won't be tortured, and so they're clamming up. No doubt they are also counting on Dershowitz & co. to defend them if things get tougher.

According to some recent interviews, the bureau is thinking about extraditing these guys to some friendly Arab countries — like Egypt and Morocco — where interrogation is conducted more vigorously than here. There is certainly something to be said for it, but before we turn them over to the tender mercies of their Arab brothers we ought to use the considerable resources of the country that has the most experience, and the greatest success, in dealing with Islamic terrorism. That would be Israel.

We are hampered not only by the constitutional protections of the accused or the suspected; we have very few interrogators who are fluent in Arabic, conversant with Islamic culture, and sufficiently sophisticated to understand the mentality of the terrorists. There are scores of Israelis who have all these skills, and many of them are now retired, and would be delighted to help us. Moreover, while Israel has often subjected terrorist suspects to interrogation that would not pass muster in the D.C. Court of Appeals, Israeli courts have insisted on strict limits on acceptable methods. This is not the case in even the most civilized of our Arab allies.

The use of Israeli interrogators would have immense psychological advantages, since the terrorists take it for granted that the United States and Israel are simply two parts of a vast Satanic continuum, and as soon as they see an Israeli asking questions they will immediately assume that they have been sent to a hotter level of Hell. I suspect that they will be more forthcoming under the changed circumstances.

Indeed, this seems so obvious that I wonder why it hasn't been done already. Can it be that here, too, the obsessive concern with preserving our vast "alliance" at all costs has gotten in the way of achieving our life-and-death mission?

Let's work with our democratic allies first, and turn to friendly tyrannies only as a last resort.