The leader of a JSOC unit in Iraq, known as K-Bar, gets shot in the chest by insurgents. K-Bar waves away his medic until he finishes killing his assailants. His reward? Leading JSOC’s operations in Afghanistan.
DR: So they torture people until Flynn figures out there’s a better way to get intelligence?
MA: I know that sounds like a neat narrative, and this is a complicated story. But in essence, that is what happened. While you have to say the command was complicit in the rough, bad stuff early on, they figured out what was happening, and they figured out a much better, humane and more effective way of doing it. Then they proselytize it, and make sure rest of the military knows they’re doing it that way. You can’t ever erase the stain of torture, but this command deserves credit for figuring out what to do about it, and how to meet the need for intelligence without roughing people up, and how to get inside the decision loops of the insurgents.
Some of the [new intelligence-gathering] tactics were as simple as equipping your [operators] with a camera. Instead of rounding up insurgents, bringing them to one area of a house, they’d have pictures of them exactly where they are, and take pictures what they have on them exactly. ... And they’d send pictures back in real time to an intelligence fusion center. ... And you’d have analyst who could use many of various databases that JSOC had access to, and many that JSOC was building. ... There were teams of U.S. intelligence officers who were trying to get as many fingerprints, DNA samples and so forth of anyone in Baghdad as they could. The analysts would be able to create link analysis charts from them.
If you captured Abu So-and-So, you’d be able to say within a minute, “Hey, I know your uncle is this person, who we really want to get to. If you can tell me where this person is right now, we’ll give you a break and even let you go.” And often, that would be what Abu So-and-So would do, because it would be in his best interest. Within maybe 20 minutes, JSOC could launch a second raid targeting the uncle of Abu So-and-So