Did harsh interrogation tactics help US find Osama bin Laden?
Many Bush administration officials say yes. Obama officials say there was a 'mosaic of sources' that led to Osama bin Laden – no single confession. Documents offer some insight into who said what – and how they were treated.
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Others say the Bush administration’s aggressive approach to intelligence gathering in the wake of the 9/11 attacks created the massive pool of data that eventually allowed intelligence analysts to put together pieces of a puzzle that led to bin Laden.Skip to next paragraph
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“President George W. Bush, not his successor, constructed the interrogation and warrantless surveillance programs that produce this week’s actionable intelligence,” wrote former Justice Department legal adviser John Yoo in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece.
“According to current and former administration officials, CIA interrogators gathered the initial information that ultimately led to bin Laden’s death,” Mr. Yoo said.
In an interview with Time magazine, the former director of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, Jose Rodriguez, said the first important leads about Kuwaiti came from alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and Abu Farraj al-Libbi, the third-ranking Al Qaeda leader at the time of his capture. Both men were interrogated at secret CIA “black sites,” where Mr. Mohammed was subject to waterboarding 183 times.
“Information provided by KSM and [Mr. Libbi] about bin Laden’s courier was the lead information that eventually led to the location of the compound and the operation that led to his death,” Mr. Rodriguez is quoted as saying.
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that the Obama administration would not have had “the kinds of intelligence that was critically important,” but for the aggressive efforts of the Bush administration.
“Anyone who suggests that the enhanced techniques, let’s be blunt – waterboarding – did not produce an enormous amount of valuable intelligence just isn’t facing the truth,” he said.
Attorney General Eric Holder was asked during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Tuesday whether any intelligence information that led to the bin Laden mission was the result of enhanced interrogation techniques.
“There was a mosaic of sources that led to the identification of the people who led to [bin Laden],” the attorney general said.
Attorney General Holder: “I do not know.”