Jeff Stein reports: Washington’s ramped up war on the Islamic State looks like an airliner lifting off the runway with mechanics still working on the wings.
Among the many unresolved issues in the campaign to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, as it’s generally known, is what to do with prisoners in Iraq or Syria, should American special operators or U.S.-backed forces be lucky enough to capture any. How deeply will we be involved in interrogating them? Will we stand by as our “moderate” Syrian rebels and our Iraqis “partners,” as the administration now calls them, go to work on prisoners? Where will detainees be held, and for how long? How will we enforce our newly embraced ban on torture, when the Iraqi security forces we’re advising employ mutilation and murder as a matter of course?
To say all this is a work-in-progress is an understatement.
A Pentagon spokesman told Newsweek the Defense Department doesn’t have a policy yet on how to handle Islamic State detainees. A CIA spokesman, declining to explain its interrogation role further, pointed me to early Obama administration legislation outlawing the spy agency’s detention of prisoners. The FBI, which has been involved in recent terrorist renditions from Libya and Somalia, didn’t respond to a request for guidance. The White House said that the Iraqis, those exemplars of humane prisoner treatment, are in charge of the war on the Islamic State. [Continue reading…]