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Guantanamo Detainees Provide Valuable Intelligence Information - 2002-02-12

Top defense officials say Taleban and al-Qaida detainees in U.S. custody are providing valuable intelligence in the fight against terrorism.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says information behind the latest U.S. terrorist alert stems in part from the interrogation of detainees from Afghanistan now held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Mr. Rumsfeld gives no details. But he tells reporters at the Pentagon useful intelligence is being gathered from the Taleban and al-Qaida fighters now in custody.

"We have gathered some intelligence from them that has been beneficial to the United States and other countries and to our deployed forces. And not just a little, but more than a little," he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld hints the intelligence input continues to grow because more Taleban and al-Qaida suspects continue to be taken into custody.

"We continue to gather in additional people, senior people in the Taleban and al-Qaida. It's a fairly steady flow," he said. "It's not large numbers at any given time but we are continuing to bring them in and interrogate them."

General Richard Myers, chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs, says the Pentagon would like to share some of its successes with the public, especially in the hunt for fugitive terrorist leaders.

But while that could deflect attention from recent highly-publicized military mistakes, General Myers says it could compromise U.S. tactics.

"The problem is that once you do that, then the tactics and the techniques and the procedures that are being used in this very difficult mission of locating leadership and other pockets of al-Qaida or Taleban, once we tell you how successful we've been, then we reveal those tactics, techniques and procedures, and sometimes they're easy to thwart," he said. "So that's why we have to be very careful. This is an ongoing operation, if you will, and we've just got to be very, very careful."

The U.S. military is now holding close to 500 Taleban and al-Qaida detainees - some in Kandahar in Afghanistan and some at the U.S. Navy Base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.