Why would a CIA official interrogating a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist impersonate a Pentecostal preacher “laying on hands”? I was perplexed to read a recent Guardian article alleging a Guantanamo Bay interrogator would “put one hand on the forehead of a detainee, raise the other high in the air, and in a deep Southern drawl say things like, ‘Can you feel it, son? Can you feel the Spirit moving down my arm, into your body?’”

I served as US attorney from 2001 to 2006. I served as a US Navy JAG officer and prosecution team leader between 2008 and 2014 at the Office of the Chief Prosecutor, US Military Commissions. I have been to Guantanamo Bay many times, including the detention camps. I have sat face to face with a suspected al-Qaeda member and his attorney. I am also an evangelical Christian and the son of a Southern Baptist minister. I can tell you, this isn’t how you interrogate a suspected terrorist.

Typically, after a crime occurs, an investigator questions the suspect. A skilled interrogator will obtain a confession to a crime. There are many rules regarding permissible types of interrogation, but the most important thing is that the interrogator wants a truthful and voluntary statement that can be used in court.

Prosecutors are ethically bound to introduce only untainted evidence before the court. Trial judges, using the well-established doctrine called “the exclusionary rule,” will bar statements and evidence not provided voluntarily.

I don’t think imitating a revivalist preacher about to “slay someone in the Spirit” would taint evidence. It’s not inhumane. But it is bizarre, and it shows the level of desperation the interrogators must have felt ...

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