Some liberals are trying to give all of the credit for the death of Osama bin Laden to Barack Obama and his enlightened leadership. But if we had fought the war on terrorism the way liberals wanted us to fight it, bin Laden would still be alive today and we wouldn’t have the first clue of how to find him.
The New York Times and MSNBC have confirmed that the nom de guerre of a key courier for bin Laden, “Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti,” was obtained by interrogating detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. If we had listened to the liberals, Guantanamo Bay would have been closed years ago.
One detainee was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the true mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. In the past 12 to 15 years, the military leadership of al Qaeda passed out of the hands of bin Laden and into the hands of men like KSM and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an al Qaeda training camp commander in Afghanistan who relocated to Iraq and became the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, the most deadly of the insurgent groups.
By the time he died, Osama bin laden was a spiritual and ideological leader, not a military commander. Because he was a prime target, he had isolated himself; and because he had isolated himself, it was impossible for him to be a military leader. He was only capable of sending out occasional inspirational videos and other messages via courier, often to be posted on the Internet.
KSM was captured in Pakistan in March 2003. Zarqawi was killed in an air raid in Iraq in June 2006. Most of al Qaeda’s other leaders and rank-and-file members were also killed or captured, principally in Iraq but also in many other countries.
Before KSM was waterboarded, he was completely uncooperative. Waterboarding broke his resistance. Afterward, he became more cooperative to varying degrees. If we had listened to the liberals, KSM would never have been broken. He would have had an attorney present during questioning, and he would still be completely uncooperative.
According to the Associated Press, “strands” of information that led us to the courier had been developed by interrogating detainees at the CIA’s secret prisons overseas. Again, if we had fought the war the way liberals wanted, those secret prisons never would have existed. We never would have obtained the name of “Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.”
It’s true that KSM was first asked about al-Kuwaiti in the fall of 2003, months after the waterboarding. But the threat of waterboarding was still on KSM’s mind. He didn’t want it to happen again. And so we received a degree of cooperation from him. He acknowledged that al-Kuwaiti was a courier but claimed that he was “retired.”
But the next year, we captured an al Qaeda operative in Iraq named Hassan Ghul. Again, the CIA asked the Justice Department for authorization to use harsh interrogation techniques, but these apparently did not include waterboarding.
Again, if we had obeyed the liberals, we would have questioned him very gently in the presence of his attorney and we wouldn’t have obtained any useful information. In fact, we never would have been in Iraq in the first place if we had obeyed the liberals, and Hassan Ghul would still be a free man.
Ghul confirmed that al-Kuwaiti was in fact very active, and very close to bin Laden. Our interrogators took that information back to KSM. He denied it. But they knew at this point that he was lying.
Another al Qaeda leader, Abu Faraj al-Libi, had become the military leader of al Qaeda after KSM was captured. When al-Libi was also captured in May 2005, he was asked about al-Kuwaiti. Like KSM, he tried to divert the interrogators’ attention away from al-Kuwaiti. Like KSM, the interrogators knew at this point that he was lying.
Tracking down al-Kuwaiti in Pakistan eventually led us to bin Laden, because bin Laden was living with him. Like bin Laden, al-Kuwaiti died during the Sunday raid. Authorities still haven’t released al-Kuwaiti’s real name.
There’s also the question of warrantless wiretaps, which has been raised by Daily Caller opinion contributor Kevin McCullough. As a senator, Barack Obama led liberals in a very noisy fight against warrantless wiretaps, even for national security purposes.
This alerted bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders to an intelligence vulnerability, and they stopped using phones. The only remaining way to track them down was through a courier whose nom de guerre was “Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.”
When all of these details are framed clearly, rather than in the obscured and spin-doctored way that liberals such as Dianne Feinstein and several newspaper columnists would like, it becomes clear that everything the liberals advocated over the years would have produced failure after failure.
But we shouldn’t take too much comfort in the death of bin Laden. Remember that the death of Karl Marx, communism’s ideological leader, did not spell the end of communism. The military leadership of the revolution was passing to men like Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky and Josef Stalin. Likewise, the death of al Qaeda’s ideological leader won’t make much difference.
We must continue to find, capture if possible, and kill if necessary the military leaders of al Qaeda; men like Zarqawi, KSM and al-Libi. And when we interrogate them, that interrogation must be effective. We must obtain their cooperation.
National security matters involving foreign enemy combatants on foreign soil do not require the presence of an attorney during questioning, the use of a wiretapping warrant, or the assignment and observance of other constitutional rights that American citizens enjoy.
And the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, whether Dianne Feinstein admits it or not, indirectly produced the intelligence that led us to bin Laden.
The invasion of Iraq, whether Michael Moore admits it or not, produced an al Qaeda operative named Hassan Ghul who confirmed the intelligence that led us to bin Laden.
The liberals, and specifically Barack Obama, have been dead wrong about how to fight this war. Obama is to be congratulated for making the right decision when the time came. But the intelligence gathering that led to his decision took us down paths that he never would have approved.
Jim Davis is a freelance writer and IT specialist working for a major Chicago law firm. He has been observing corrupt Chicago politicians (from a safe distance in the suburbs) for nearly half a century.