Monday, I pointed out that Bin Laden’s death does not justify torture.
Top republicans and democrats – who have direct knowledge of waterboarding at Guantanamo – agree.
White House deputy national security advisor John Brennann says that waterboarding did not lead to the death of Bin Laden.
“The United States Department of Defense did not do waterboarding for interrogation purposes to anyone. It is true that some information that came from normal interrogation approaches at Guantanamo did lead to information that was beneficial in this instance. But it was not harsh treatment and it was not waterboarding.”
As does Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein:
Nothing has been found to indicate this came out of Guantanamo. And people were questioned, but there were no positive answers as to the identity of this number one courier.
[Asked whether she considers the Bin Laden killing any kind of “vindication” of torture, Feinstein replied] Absolutely not. I do not. I happen to know a good deal about how those interrogations were conducted, and in my view, nothing justifies the kind of procedures that were used.
This idea we caught bin Laden because of waterboarding I think is a misstatement. This whole concept of how we caught bin Laden is a lot of work over time by different people and putting the puzzle together. I do not believe this is a time to celebrate waterboarding, I believe this is a time to celebrate hard work.
Update: The New York Times notes:
Glenn L. Carle, a retired C.I.A. officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002, said in a phone interview Tuesday, that coercive techniques “didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information.” He said that while some of his colleagues defended the measures, “everyone was deeply concerned and most felt it was un-American and did not work.”
“The bottom line is this: If we had some kind of smoking-gun intelligence from waterboarding in 2003, we would have taken out Osama bin Laden in 2003,” said Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council. “It took years of collection and analysis from many different sources to develop the case that enabled us to identify this compound, and reach a judgment that Bin Laden was likely to be living there.”
And Huffington Post reports:
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, produced a 263-page report in 2009 on the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody in the years following 9/11. He too dismissed the idea that the interrogation techniques used at that time were efficacious. “If they had any information under the Bush administration that could have led to bin Laden it would have been terribly neglectful for them not to use it,” Levin noted in an interview on the “Bill Press Show.”
The confirmation of the courier’s significance appears to have come in 2004, from an al Qaeda operative who was not waterboarded: Hassan Ghul.