Sources: High-Value Interrogation Group Involved In Interrogation of Shahzad

May 4, 2010 1:08pm

ABC News has learned that the High-Value Interrogation Group, or HIG, is involved in the interrogation of Faisal Shahzad, the man arrested last night in the investigation into the failed Times Square bombing.

After the arrest of the failed Christmas Day 2009 bomber Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab, the Obama administration was criticized for not having yet made operational the HIG, a special interrogation team for high-value terrorist suspects, though the Special Task Force on Interrogations and Transfer Policies had announced its recommendation to form such a group in August 2009.

In congressional testimony on January 20, 2010, in which he was discussing the decision to read Miranda rights to failed Christmas Day bomber, the director of national intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair (ret.), said that a high-value interrogation unit “was created exactly for this purpose, to make a decision on whether a certain person who is detained should be treated as a case for federal prosecution or for some of the other means."

Continued Blair: "We did not invoke the HIG in this case. We should have. … That is what we will do now, and so we need to make those decisions more carefully. I was not consulted. The decision was made on the scene. It seemed logical to the people there. But it should have been taken using this HIG format at a higher level.”

His comments were interpreted as a rebuke of the decision to have the FBI interrogate Abdulmutallab. Before the end of the day, Blair issued a statement saying his remarks had "been misconstrued. The FBI interrogated Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab when they took him into custody. They received important intelligence at that time, drawing on the FBI’s expertise in interrogation that will be available in the HIG once it is fully operational."

That then prompted questions as to why HIG was not yet operational. Within days, at the end of January 2010, National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones (ret.) signed the charter to form the HIG.

In any case, though the use of the HIG are complicated when applied to an American citizen allegedly attempting to commit an act upon American soil, sources tell ABC News that HIG expertise and resources are being used with Faisal Shahzad.

-jpt

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