De­bate flares anew on harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tion meth­ods

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY BILL GERTZ

The suc­cess­ful op­er­a­tion against Osama bin Laden has rekin­dled de­bate over the use of harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques dur­ing the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, as a key in­tel­li­gence leader ac­knowl­edged their role in a May 3 tele­vi­sion in­ter­view.

CIA Di­rec­tor Leon E. Panetta said some threads of in­tel­li­gence among the mul­ti­ple ori­gins came through the use of harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tion.

“Clearly, some of it came from de­tainees and the in­ter­ro­ga­tion of de­tainees, but we also had in­for­ma­tion from other sources as well,” Mr. Panetta said on NBC News.

Asked to deny that water­board­ing was among the tac­tics used to ex­tract the in­tel­li­gence that led to the suc­cess­ful mis­sion, Mr. Panetta said: “No. I think some of the de­tainees clearly were, you know, they used these en­hanced in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques against some of these de­tainees.”

The CIA di­rec­tor also said that “the de­bate about whether we would have got­ten the same in­for­ma­tion through other ap­proaches I think is al­ways go­ing to be an open ques­tion.”

Rep. Peter T. King, chair­man of the House Home­land Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee, said ini­tial clues to bin Laden’s lo­ca­tion can be traced to the water­board­ing of Khalid Shaikh Mo­hammed and in­ter­ro­ga­tions of Abu Faraj alLibbi, the for­mer No. 3 al Qaeda leader, who was cap­tured in 2005.

“Khalid Shaikh Mo­hammed ba­si­cally gave up noth­ing un­til af­ter he had been wa­ter­boarded,” Mr. King said in an in­ter­view. “It was af­ter that that he first men­tioned the courier, he iden­ti­fied him by his nom de guerre, and af­ter that [. . . ] al-Libbi also gave us ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion on the courier.”

How­ever, White House coun­tert­er­ror­ism co­or­di­na­tor John Bren­nan said he is not aware that water­board­ing pro­duced in­tel­li­gence that led to the lo­ca­tion of bin Laden’s com­pound.

“Not to my knowl­edge. The in­for­ma­tion that was ac­quired over the course of nine years or so came from many dif­fer­ent sources - hu­man sources, tech­ni­cal sources, as well as in­for­ma­tion that de­tainees pro­vided,” Mr. Bren­nan said on MSNBC.

Mr. King said the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s over­all han­dling of ter­ror­ist de­tainees was vin­di­cated by the suc­cess­ful raid. “Ab­so­lutely. This is a vin­di­ca­tion,” the New York Repub­li­can said. “With­out that, we may not have got­ten bin Laden.”

Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said track­ing one par­tic­u­lar bin Laden courier ul­ti­mately pro- duced key in­tel­li­gence that ended the world­wide man­hunt with the May 1 com­mando raid in Ab­bot­tabad, Pak­istan, that left the al Qaeda leader dead.

Work by an­a­lysts who “pieced it all to­gether” led to the Ab­bot­tabad com­pound last year and the raid, Mr. Bren­nan said, not-

Rep. Peter T. King, chair­man of the House Home­land Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee, said ini­tial clues to Osama bin Laden’s lo­ca­tion can be traced to the water­board­ing of Khalid Shaikh Mo­hammed and in­ter­ro­ga­tions of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the for­mer No. 3 al Qaeda leader, who was cap­tured in 2005. “Khalid Shaikh Mo­hammed ba­si­cally gave up noth­ing un­til af­ter he had been wa­ter­boarded,” Mr. King said in an in­ter view. “It was af­ter that that he first men­tioned the courier, he iden­ti­fied him by his nom de guerre, and af­ter that [. . . ] al-Libbi also gave us ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion on the courier.”

ing that no sin­gle piece of in­for­ma­tion re­sulted in find­ing the com­pound and that data from de­tained ter­ror­ists was mixed.

“Some­times they gave up in­for­ma­tion will­ingly as far as of­fer­ing some de­tails; some of it was dis­in­for­ma­tion,” he said. “Some­times they pro­vided in­for­ma­tion that they didn’t re­al­ize had em­bed­ded clues in it that we were able to ex­ploit.”

A se­nior Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial who briefed re­porters May 1 said in­tel­li­gence agen­cies fo­cused on find­ing couri­ers for bin Laden since 2001, with one trusted mes­sen­ger hav­ing “our con­stant at­ten­tion.”

In­ter­ro­gated de­tainees pro­vided the courier’s nom de guerre, iden­ti­fied him as a pro­tege of Mo­hammed and al-Libbi and re­vealed that he was “one of the few al Qaeda couri­ers trusted by bin Laden,” the of­fi­cial said.

The courier also was liv­ing with and pro­tect­ing bin Laden, but in­tel­li­gence agen­cies were un­able for years to learn his name or lo­ca­tion. Then, four years ago, the courier was iden­ti­fied by name, and two years later, he and his brother were spot­ted op­er­at­ing in a spe­cific area of Pak­istan, the of­fi­cial said.

“Still, we were un­able to pin­point ex­actly where they lived, due to ex­ten­sive op­er­a­tional se­cu­rity on their part,” the of­fi­cial said.

In Au­gust, the courier’s res­i­dence was lo­cated as the Ab­bot­tabad com­pound, trig­ger­ing the covert op­er­a­tion that be­gan in Septem­ber and ended on May 1. Both the courier and his brother were killed in the raid.

Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein, chair­woman of the Se­nate Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence, told re­porters that “noth­ing has been found to in­di­cate that this came out of Guan­tanamo.” The lat­ter is a ref­er­ence to the de­ten­tion cen­ter for terrorism sus­pects at U.S. Naval Base Guan­tanamo Bay, Cuba.

“And peo­ple were ques­tioned, but there were no pos­i­tive an­swers as to the iden­tity of this No. 1 courier,” said Mrs. Fe­in­stein, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat.

For­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney said he thinks harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tions likely con­trib­uted to find­ing bin Laden.

“I would as­sume that the en­hanced in­ter­ro­ga­tion pro­gram that we put in place pro­duced some of the re­sults that led to bin Laden’s ultimate cap­ture,” Mr. Cheney said on the Fox News Chan­nel.

For­mer De­fense Sec­re­tary Don­ald H. Rums­feld said in an in­ter­view with Newsmax that “nor­mal in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques” helped lead searchers to bin Laden, but not water­board­ing.

“It cer­tainly points up the fact that the struc­tures that Pres­i­dent Bush put into place - mil­i­tary com­mis­sions, Guan­tanamo Bay, the Pa­triot Act, in­def­i­nite de­ten­tion, and hu­mane treat­ment, but in­ten­sive in­ter­ro­ga­tion, to be sure - all con­trib­uted to the suc­cess we’ve had in the global war on ter­ror,” Mr. Rums­feld said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A long time com­ing: Jeff Ray, right, and Jan Ray of Shanksville, Pa., at­tach a sign to the fence over­look­ing the crash site of United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa. on May 2 af­ter learn­ing that Osama Bin Laden, the face of global terrorism and mas­ter­mind of the Sept. 11, 2001, at­tacks, was tracked down and shot to death in Pak­istan by an elite team of U.S. forces, end­ing an un­re­lent­ing man­hunt that spanned a frus­trat­ing decade.

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