Oh, how sweet it is:
WASHINGTON – Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden’s most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.
There’s conflicting information on where KSM and al-Libi gave up the information. The AP insinuates above that the information on the courier came as a result of enhanced interrogation tactics used on them by the CIA in Poland and Romania. ABC News’ Brian Ross, however, reports that the info was learned via EITs used on the two of them at Gitmo:
And the trail that ultimately led U.S. forces to Bin Laden may have begun with another 9/11 plotter who is now in U.S. custody, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad.
Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, central to both the 9/11 plot and the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, was captured by U.S. forces and taken to Guantanamo. In 2007, U.S. officials who were interrogating Guantanamo detainees finally learned the real name of a former Khalid Sheikh Muhammad protégé who had become an important confidante of Abu Faraj al Libi. Al Libi was captured in 2005 and also taken to Guantanamo.
Guantanamo detainees identified the courier who had worked with both KSM and Al Libi as someone who was probably trusted by Bin Laden. Al Libi had actually lived in Abbottabad in 2003, according to his detainee file.
In 2007, U.S. officials learned the courier’s real name. In 2009, they located his region of operation and began tracking him.
AllahPundit tries to piece everything together:
One U.S. official, speaking to the LA Times, noted drily, “That took years and these guys don’t give it up all willingly.” So much for the canard that enhanced interrogation never, under any circumstances, yields useful information. I’m trying to get the timeline straight, though. Apparently, sometime between 2002 and 2007, KSM and/or al-Libi revealed the courier’s pseudonym to the CIA while at a secret prison; then, four years ago, the CIA finally figured out the courier’s real name, which was the first big break in tracking him to Bin Laden’s door. The NYT, however, says that the CIA got the courier’s pseudonym from detainees at Gitmo. Maybe they corroborated the info gleaned from KSM and al-Libi at the black sites, or vice versa? Bear in mind too that al-Libi wasn’t one of the three high-value detainees who were waterboarded. He coughed up the courier’s name after some sort of lesser enhanced interrogation, and not until we have a precise timeline on KSM will we know exactly when in the process he gave them the name. Dick Cheney phoned into Fox this afternoon to talk about the role of EIT in this and said, while he assumes that it helped, he’ll have to wait for more details to know for sure.
I think it’s pretty clear that years of effective policy, hard work, tireless devotion and dedication, and in some cases ultimate sacrifice, led us to this great moment. Extremely useful information was extracted from high value detainees using some of the very “controversial techniques” the left wanted – and eventually had – outlawed. Had the left had their way early on, would we have known about OBL’s trusted courier? Maybe, but it probably would have taken a lot longer.
Mark Hemingway pours it on the Bush-hating left with more information about the extraordinairy team involved in the termination of OBL:
It’s been reported that bin Laden was killed by SEAL Team Six, officially known as Naval Special Warfare Development Group or DevGru. Marc Ambinder has a good report that fills in some of the particulars:
DevGru belongs to the Joint Special Operations Command, an extraordinary and unusual collection of classified standing task forces and special-missions units. They report to the president and operate worldwide based on the legal (or extra-legal) premises of classified presidential directives. Though the general public knows about the special SEALs and their brothers in Delta Force, most JSOC missions never leak. We only hear about JSOC when something goes bad (a British aid worker is accidentally killed) or when something really big happens (a merchant marine captain is rescued at sea), and even then, the military remains especially sensitive about their existence. Several dozen JSOC operatives have died in Pakistan over the past several years. Their names are released by the Defense Department in the usual manner, but with a cover story — generally, they were killed in training accidents in eastern Afghanistan. That’s the code.
Under Bush, JSOC was routinely smeared by the left and placed at the center of many Bush/Cheney conspiracy theories. Specifically, New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh alleged it was Dick Cheney’s personal assassination squad:
Now that a Democratic President has employed JSOC to take out Osama bin Laden, will the fever swamps of the Left continue to assert that it’s just a Bush/Cheney plot to run around unjustifiably killing people?
My co-blogger was correct to point out earlier that Pakistan had some explaining to do. But I’d like to add the left to the list of people who have some explaining to do, considering the were desperate to see Bush/Cheney do the perp walk for alleged “war crimes” committed while in office, specifically as it related not just to Abu Ghraib, but also as it related to President Bush’s authorization of EITs (including waterboarding) as well his reviled Gitmo/”secret prisons” policy. As you’ll remember, useful idiots both home and abroad who think breaking bread with ruthless dictators will make them see the light believed these wartime counterterrorism tactics were “unconstitutional” and “blatant attempts by the Executive Branch to seize unlimited power.” Then-Senator Obama was one such liberal who believed that President Bush stepped way over the line with EITs – and made it clear very early on in his Presidency that the Bush way of interrogation, used by the CIA, was no longer to be used.
I should also point out that this is not the first time that it has been confirmed that aggressive interrogation techniques aided the US and our allies in the global war on terror. Former national intelligence director Adm. Dennis C. Blair admitted as much in the first few months of Obama’s presidency, as reported by the NYT at the time:
WASHINGTON – President Obama’s national intelligence director told colleagues in a private memo last week that the harsh interrogation techniques banned by the White House did produce significant information that helped the nation in its struggle with terrorists.
“High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa’ida organization that was attacking this country,” Adm. Dennis C. Blair, the intelligence director, wrote in a memo to his staff last Thursday.
Admiral Blair sent his memo on the same day the administration publicly released secret Bush administration legal memos authorizing the use of interrogation methods that the Obama White House has deemed to be illegal torture. Among other things, the Bush administration memos revealed that two captured Qaeda operatives were subjected to a form of near-drowning known as waterboarding a total of 266 times.
Admiral Blair’s assessment that the interrogation methods did produce important information was deleted from a condensed version of his memo released to the media last Thursday. Also deleted was a line in which he empathized with his predecessors who originally approved some of the harsh tactics after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“I like to think I would not have approved those methods in the past,” he wrote, “but I do not fault those who made the decisions at that time, and I will absolutely defend those who carried out the interrogations within the orders they were given.”
Not that we didn’t know that already, considering the fact that the waterboarding of KSM led to the thwarting of the 2nd LA Library Tower plot, as reported back in 2005 by the LA Times.
I’d really like to see a press conference and/or primetime interview in which Obama participates and is asked questions about the enhanced interrogation techniques used to find out the name of OBL’s courier, highly valuable information which eventually led to the killing of OBL after his refusal to surrender. As I pointed out earlier, then-Senator Obama and other liberals were highly critical of these methods of gaining information from high level admitted terrorists , suggesting that there were “other, more principled methods” that could have been used to produce the same information. They were also “outraged” that the CIA would have so-called “black sites” and that President Bush had the audacity to authorize the Gitmo prison facility. I won’t hold my breath on President Obama getting questioned on this much – if at all, though, because the MSM – in concert with left wing pundits – are too busy basking in the afterglow of the Obama victory of snagging and eliminating OBL.
However, I wouldn’t put it past debate moderators next year to bring up the issue at the debates as a way of bringing it back to the attention of the American people that OBL was killed on Obama’s watch. At the same time, I hope whoever the GOP candidate is will be well-informed enough to point out – in the midst of congratulating President Obama – that some of the very counterterrorism policies used to glean this information are policies that would not have been in place had Democrats like President Obama, and 2004 Democrat nominee for President John Kerry, had their way.
We shall see.
Update – 6:40 PM: Here’s more, slightly differing info, on how the CIA learned about the courier:
In a secret CIA prison in Eastern Europe years ago, al-Qaida’s No. 3 leader, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, gave authorities the nicknames of several of bin Laden’s couriers, four former U.S. intelligence officials said. Those names were among thousands of leads the CIA was pursuing.
One man became a particular interest for the agency when another detainee, Abu Faraj al-Libi, told interrogators that when he was promoted to succeed Mohammed as al-Qaida’s operational leader he received the word through a courier. Only bin Laden would have given al-Libi that promotion, CIA officials believed.
If they could find that courier, they’d find bin Laden.
The revelation that intelligence gleaned from the CIA’s so-called black sites helped kill bin Laden was seen as vindication for many intelligence officials who have been repeatedly investigated and criticized for their involvement in a program that involved the harshest interrogation methods in U.S. history.
“We got beat up for it, but those efforts led to this great day,” said Marty Martin, a retired CIA officer who for years led the hunt for bin Laden.
Mohammed did not reveal the names while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He identified them many months later under standard interrogation, they said, leaving it once again up for debate as to whether the harsh technique was a valuable tool or an unnecessarily violent tactic.
If that’s the case, I suspect that in the back of his mind he knew he would be subjected to far harsher ITs, including waterboarding, if he didn’t divulge the information. And what of the “black sites”? The ABC article is yet another that mentions the “black sites” as the places where KSM and other noted detainess were questioned. These sites were so secretive, that I have serious doubts that just “standard” questioning was used.
More details will be forthcoming in the days and weeks to come, and some intrepid writer out there will put all the pieces together and make them all fit. But it’s more than crystal clear to me that if the left had had its way when it came to interrogation techniques, “black sites”, and Gitmo, we might not be where we are today – celebrating the elimination of the head of Al-Qaeda.
As Drudge would say, stay tuned … developing …