In 2002 Abu Zubaydah, a captured Bin Laden henchman, experienced two radically different kinds of interrogation as the FBI and the CIA secretly engaged in a debate that continues today. As one official put it: ?When you rough these guys up, all you do is fulfill their fantasies about what to expect from us.?
According to accounts from five former and current government officials who were briefed on the case, F.B.I. agents ? accompanied by intelligence officers ? initially questioned him using standard interview techniques. They bathed Mr. Zubaydah, changed his bandages, gave him water, urged improved medical care, and spoke with him in Arabic and English, languages in which he is fluent.
To convince him they knew details of his activities, the agents brought a box of blank audiotapes which they said contained recordings of his phone conversations, but were actually empty. As the F.B.I. worked with C.I.A. officers who were present, Mr. Zubaydah soon began to provide intelligence insights into Al Qaeda.
After Mr. Zubaydah?s capture, a C.I.A. interrogation team was dispatched from the agency?s counterterrorism center to take the lead in his questioning, former law enforcement and intelligence officials said, and F.B.I. agents were withdrawn. The group included an agency consultant schooled in the harsher interrogation procedures to which American special forces are subjected in their training. Three former intelligence officials said the techniques had been drawn up on the basis of legal guidance from the Justice Department, but were not yet supported by a formal legal opinion.
In Thailand, the new C.I.A. team concluded that under standard questioning Mr. Zubaydah was revealing only a small fraction of what he knew, and decided that more aggressive techniques were warranted.