Mark Bowden's piece on the hunt for Zarqawi in the current Atlantic tells a riveting story which seems to show that interrogation can work in the hunt for terrorists, even if it doesn't solve the larger picture. But one thing puzzled me. I remember well that Jordanian officials at the time made every effort to claim credit for finding Zarqawi. In June 2006 the LA Times reported: "Maj. Gen. Mohammed Dahabi, director of Jordan's General Intelligence Department, and Col. Ali Burjaq, his counterterrorism chief, said in a rare interview that a splashy videotape Zarqawi released this spring helped Jordanian officials determine his approximate location at the time, a key lead that ultimately resulted in Zarqawi's slaying last week in a U.S. aerial bombing."
That report went into a lot more detail about Jordan's role in getting to its hated enemy:
"With the permission of Iraq's fledgling government, Jordanian operatives flooded the war-torn country, cultivating informants and working the periphery of the Zarqawi network to find ways into the organization, a Jordanian official and intelligence experts said. Jordan's GID set up spy bureaus in Iraq and began working with the Dulaimis, a large, mostly Sunni Arab tribe, some of whose members are closely tied to the insurgency, to gather information about anyone associating with Zarqawi or others in militant groups.... Jordan also played a key role in ferreting out the militant, U.S. and Jordanian officials have said, providing crucial intelligence that apparently corroborated information the Americans were getting from within the insurgency. Jordanian security and intelligence authorities were involved in the hunt from the start, helping trace locations at which Zarqawi and his group frequently stayed, Jordanian government spokesman Nasser Joudeh said."
Jordanians appear nowhere in Bowden's narrative, which instead presents the hit on Zarqawi as the result of the determined efforts of American interrogators of Task Force 145. So what's the deal? Were the Jordanians lying? Did Bowden not get the whole story? Did he choose not tell it because it would complicate his story of heroic Americans and the value of interrogation? The two versions - that presented by Jordanian intelligence to the LA Times and that presented by Bowden - seem irreconciliable on the face of it. I don't know which version is right, but something here is clearly not right.