Did enhanced interrogation lead U.S. to Osama bin Laden?

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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UPDATE 8:50 p.m.: In a CNN appearance, Former CIA director Michael Hayden said the detainees the administration said provided information on Osama bin Laden’s couriers were at one of the CIA’s locations that allowed enhanced interrogation techniques, not at Guantanamo Bay.

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former George W. Bush senior adviser Karl Rove have indicated that enhanced interrogation techniques helped United States officials obtain the information that eventually led them to 9/11 terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden yesterday.

The Hill reports that Rumsfeld said new information that led to bin Laden’s killing, “very well could have been partly a result of the interviews that took place at Guantanamo.”

And, Rove said on Fox and Friends on Monday morning that Bush was the one who gave the CIA orders to get bin Laden, and Obama was using intelligence likely attained with enhanced, or harsh, interrogation techniques.

“Look, there is continuity in these kind of things and the tools that President Bush put into place, GITMO, rendition, enhanced interrogation, the vast effort to collect and collate this information, put it in a usable form obviously served his successor quite well because this served the information of the courier several years ago and moved forward to this administration,” Rove said. “I think President Obama needs to be complimented on his handling of this operation. But he did make one minor misstatement last night in that he said he gave the order to the C.I.A. to make the capture of Osama bin Laden. That was to reaffirm an order given to the C.I.A. by President Bush in the aftermath of 9-11.”

The Associated Press reports that the first leads on bin Laden’s whereabouts, information on the fictitious name the al Qaeda head’s closest aide was using, came from harsh interrogation tactics CIA officials were using on confessed 9/11 mastermind planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi.

The Weekly Standard’s Thomas Joscelyn points out, too, that The New York Times downplayed the importance the harsh interrogation tactics played in getting this information, but at least reported that it was Mohammed who was the original lead.

“The press has been quick to highlight every reported instance of abuse (most of them fiction) and every case where an innocent was detained (comparatively few),” Joscelyn writes. “At the same time, our leading press organizations, including the New York Times, have either ignored or downplayed the value of the intelligence learned through interrogations at Guantanamo. Yet, it was that intelligence that ultimately led to the death of Osama bin Laden.”

The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis reports that Washington Post foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius pointed out the role of enhanced interrogation on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, too. “The CIA got a nickname for one of bin Laden’s couriers in interrogation of high targets — very controversial interrogation — let’s make no bones about it in 2002-2004 range,” Ignatius said. “It took them about four years to figure out who that nickname might really be. They finally got the true name in 2007. And then, they had to figure out where on earth was this, literally, where on earth was this person.”