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Column: Would the “Rough Stuff” Have Worked Better in Interrogation of Terrorist Suspect Zazi?

spy-talk-logoBy Jeff Stein
Spy Talk
WASHINGTON — The feds cracked Najibullah Zazi without laying a hand on him, according to most news accounts.

But some people still wonder if the rough stuff would have worked better — if only to make sure he gave it all up.

They’ve got to turn off their TVs.

Today I asked two veteran counterterrorism interrogators to take me inside the room when Zazi, the erstwhile New York street peddler- turned-alleged linchpin of a countrywide terrorist plot, was being questioned.

These guys — one from the FBI, and one an Air Force interrogator who mentally sparred with al Qaeda suspects in Iraq and Afghanistan — are the real deal. They’ve spent years eyeball-to-eyeball with hardcore terrorists and assorted other psychopaths, breaking them down.

Neither of them was in the room when the FBI cracked Zazi in Denver two weeks ago. But the techniques used to peel the 25-year-old Afghan immigrant like an avocado aren’t a mystery, either.

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