A C.I.A. narcotics analyst with no interrogation experience or appropriate language skills was the key interviewer of high-level Al Qaeda prisoners at a secret Polish prison, according to Scott Shane of the New York Times.
Deuce Martinez, a James Madison University alumnus, spoke no Arabic and refused to take part in waterboarding or other “enhanced interrogation methods.” He had worked at the Counternarcotics Center, data-mining phone numbers and credit card records to track drug cartels. He was detailed to the hunt for Al Qaeda after 9/11, using tracking techniques from his counternarcotics repertoire, and stayed with the investigation after it resulted in the capture of Abu Zubaydah. Mr. Martinez interrogated Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri (accused planner of the U.S.S. Cole bombing), and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
Mr. Mohammed, who had studied engineering at North Carolina A&T and is the uncle of 1993 Trade Towers bomber Ramzi Yousef, is believed to have planned the 9/11 attacks, and also claimed to have murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Mr. Mohammed was subjected to “waterboarding, and other harsh treatments about 100 times over a period of two weeks,” reports Mr. Shane, then:
Mr. Martinez came in after the rough stuff, the ultimate good cop with the classic skills: an unimposing presence, inexhaustible patience and a willingness to listen to the gripes and musings of a pitiless killer in rambling, imperfect English. He achieved a rapport with Mr. Mohammed that astonished his fellow C.I.A. officers.
The CIA detention facility was near Poland’s Szymany Airfield, north of Warsaw, part of the agency’s “extraordinary rendition” program, which used Gulfstream jets to remove prisoners from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Thailand, Eastern Europe, and possibly other locations. Scott Shane reports a former C.I.A. official saying “Poland is the 51st state.” Military aid to Poland increased ten-fold after 9/11.
The CIA had asked New York Times editors to withhold Mr. Martinez’s name from the June 22nd article:
After discussion with agency officials and a lawyer for Mr. Martinez, the newspaper declined the request, noting that Mr. Martinez had never worked under cover and that others involved in the campaign against Al Qaeda have been named in news stories and books. The editors judged that the name was necessary for the credibility and completeness of the article.
Mr. Martinez, no longer a CIA employee, is now a CIA contractor. It is ironic that, given his gentle ways as described in the Times. he is an employee of controversial psychological consultants Mitchell & Jessen Associates, called “the CIA’s torture teachers.”
Image by Mike Licht, after a Polish circus poster. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
Full disclosure: I played jazz and blues with Dan Pearl several times at a club in Washington’s Adams Morgan. He was a witty and articulate violinist. – ml