I wonder if those that are pleased that Osama bin Laden is gone, but wanted enhanced interrogation ended, can reconcile the two stances and come to a comfortable closure?
The trail that led to the doorstep of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan began years earlier with aggressive interrogations of al-Qaida detainees at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and CIA “black site” prisons overseas, according to U.S. officials.
It was those sometimes controversial interrogations that first produced descriptions of members of bin Laden’s courier network, including one critical Middle Eastern courier who along with his brother was protecting bin Laden at his heavily fortified compound in Abbottabad on Sunday. Both the courier and his brother were among those killed, along with bin Laden, in the dramatic raid by U.S. special forces.
The behind-the-scenes story of how bin Laden was finally located is yet to be fully told, but emerging details seem likely to reignite the debate over whether “enhanced interrogation” techniques and other aggressive methods that have been widely criticized by human rights groups provided useful – or timely — intelligence about al-Qaida. While some current and former U.S. officials credited those interrogations Monday with producing the big break in the case, others countered that they failed to produce what turned out to be the most crucial piece of intelligence of all: the identity and whereabouts of the most important figure in bin Laden courier’s network.
“Multiple sources of intelligence led us to where we are,” one senior U.S. intelligence official, who like the others spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters on Monday. “Key information was gleaned from detainees (and) that detainee reporting provided insight into the (bin Laden) courier network.”
’20th hijacker’ may have fingered courier
The identity of at least one of the detainees who provided early information about the courier who led to bin Laden could be politically explosive. According to a U.S. official, that detainee was notorious Saudi al-Qaida operative and accused 9/11 conspirator Mohammed al-Qahtani, who was subjected to some of the most humiliating interrogations at Guantanamo. Among the enhanced interrogation techniques used on him were being forced to wear a woman’s bra, being led around on a leash and forced to perform dog tricks and being subjected to cold temperatures that twice required his hospitalization, according to a later U.S. military report.
An official in the Bush administration told the Washington Post that they could not prosecute him, because his treatment met the legal definition of torture.
Question for Progressives: Was it worth it? Because this sounds a lot like what went on at Abu Ghraib. If it turns out that it eventually led us to bin Laden, was it worth it? Or would it have been better never to have known where he was?