As I noted yesterday:
For more than a decade, the government has said that Bin Laden is the world’s worst terrorist, a terrorist kingpin, the head of the worst terrorist group in the world.
But if we captured and interrogated him, he could have spilled a lot of beans which would help prevent future terrorist attacks.
But as the Atlantic reports today:
There’s one option the administration appears to have never seriously considered: taking bin Laden alive.
The administration had made clear to the military’s clandestine Joint Special Operations Command that it wanted bin Laden dead, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the discussions. A high-ranking military officer briefed on the assault said the SEALs knew their mission was not to take him alive.
Similarly, the Christian Science Monitor reports today:
Some US military intelligence officials also lament that bin Laden was not taken alive – and privately wonder whether concerns about the political “headaches” involved in trying detainees may have led the Obama administration to favor killing rather than capturing the architect of 9/11.
The opportunity to glean valuable intelligence from the leader of a powerful terrorist organization was lost, says retired Army Col. Stuart Herrington, a military intelligence specialist who interrogated generals under the command of Saddam Hussein and evaluated US detention operations at Guantánamo.
It is a misconception that ideologues don’t talk, he says. “The opinion that, ‘Oh, he’s such a fanatic, he won’t tell us anything’ – that’s uninformed blathering by people who don’t understand the business,” Herrington adds.
The Christian Science Monitor article also confirms that torture doesn’t work to produce actionable intelligence, and points out that even Bin Laden could have been made to talk if other interrogation techniques were used.
Update: The ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee. – Senator Chambliss – says that the executive order stated that Bin Laden should be killed:
I hope they went in with the idea of killing him, not capturing him. We needed to take this guy out. And I know that’s what the executive order said.