CIA “deniers” are the new birthers

**Posted by Phineas

Leftist critics of rough interrogation techniques continue to deny –in the face of all evidence– that the techniques used at Guantanamo Bay and in the CIA’s “black prisons” in Eastern Europe contributed in any meaningful way to the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Marc Thiessen disagrees, and he cites a source Lefties will have a hard time denying:

The evidence that CIA interrogations played a key role in the operation that got Osama bin Laden is overwhelming. Countless intelligence officials, including CIA Director Leon Panetta, have confirmed that detainees interrogated by the CIA provided information that helped lead us to bin Laden. But the CIA deniers continue to insist it is all a “big lie.” Despite this testimony, and the mountains of documents declassified by the Obama administration in 2009, they contend that CIA interrogations did not work.

Well, if they won’t believe these sources, perhaps they’ll believe WikiLeaks.

I doubt it was Julian Assange’s intent to provide still additional evidence of the effectiveness of CIA interrogations, but that is precisely what WikiLeaks’ “Gitmo Files” do. Take, for example, the file on Abu Faraj al-Libi — one of several CIA detainees who helped lead the agency to bin Laden’s courier. The document describes Abu Faraj as the “communications gateway” to bin Laden who once in custody “reported on al-Qai’das methods for choosing and employing couriers, as well as preferred communications means.” Based on intelligence obtained from Abu Faraj and other CIA detainees, it states that “in July 2003, [Abu Faraj] received a letter from UBL’s designated courier” (to whom he referred by a false name, Maulawi Abd al-Khaliq Jan) in which “UBL stated [Abu Faraj] would be the official messenger between UBL and others in Pakistan.” The file also notes a vital piece of intelligence: To better carry out his new duties “in mid-2003, [Abu Faraj] moved his family to Abbottabad” — the city where bin Laden eventually met his end — “and worked between Abbottabad and Peshawar.” And the file reveals that “in mid-April 2005, [Abu Faraj] began arranging for a store front to be used as a meeting place and drop point for messages he wanted to exchange” with bin Laden’s courier and was captured while waiting to meet him.

It is a miracle that al-Qaeda leaders did not read this classified document before bin Laden was killed. If they had, they would have been alerted to the fact that the CIA was on the trail of bin Laden’s courier, and they would had made the connection between the courier, bin Laden and Abbottabad — which could have blown the bin Laden operation.

In other words, waterboarding worked and, again, saved lives.

That sound you hear is the sound of heads exploding all over MSNBC… .

LINKS: My blog-buddy ST on an earlier Thiessen article.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Chris Wallace zings NSA Director Tom Donilon on waterboarding double standards

Sit back, watch, and smile.  Transcript below (via Greg Pollowitz & RCP). 

Wallace: We’ll stipulate — I think we’ll all stipulate — that bin Laden was a monster, but why is shooting an unarmed man in the face legal and proper while enhanced interrogation, including waterboarding of a detainee under very strict controls and limits — why is that over the line?

Donilon: Well, let me talk first about the first half of the statement that you made. Again, the president met with the operators yesterday at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and here are the facts. We are at war with al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden is the emir or commander, indeed the only leader of al-Qaeda in its 22 year history. This was his residence and operational compound. Our forces entered that compound and were fired upon in the pitch black. It’s an organization that uses IEDs and suicide vests and booby traps and all manner of other kinds of destructive capabilities.

Wallace: Mr. Donilon, let me just make my point. I’m not asking you why it was OK to shoot Osama bin Laden. I fully understand the threat. And I’m not second-guessing the SEALs. What I am second guessing is, if that’s OK, why can’t you do waterboarding? Why can’t you do enhanced interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was just as bad an operator as Osama bin Laden?

Donilon: Because, well, our judgment is that it’s not consistent with our values, not consistent and not necessary in terms of getting the kind of intelligence that we need.

Wallace: But shooting bin Laden in the head is consistent with our values?

Donilon: We are at war with Osama bin Laden.

Wallace: We’re at war with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Donilon: It was a military operation, right? It was absolutely appropriate for the SEALs to take the action — for the forces to take the action that they took in this military operation against a military target.

Wallace: But why is it inappropriate to get information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

Donilon: I didn’t say it was inappropriate to get information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Wallace: You said it was against our values.

Donilon: I think that the techniques are something that there’s been a policy debate about, and our administration has made our views known on that.

In related news, US AG Eric Holder reaffirmed yesterday the administration’s commitment to closing down Gitmo Bay, in spite of the treasure trove of information that came from it that led us to OBL’s whereabouts:

(Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday the United States would close the Guantanamo Bay facility holding terrorism suspects in Cuba, despite missing a previous deadline to do so.

On an official visit to Paris, Holder stressed what he called unprecedented intelligence-sharing ties between France and the United States against a united enemy, al Qaeda, that he said still held the two countries and its allies in its sights.

The recent killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was unlikely to affect the timing of the closure of the Guantanamo facility, Holder said.

“Although we have not closed Guantanamo within the time period that we initially indicated … it is still the intention of the president, and it is still my intention, to close the facility that exists in Guantanamo,” Holder told a joint news briefing with French Interior Minister Claude Gueant.

“We think that by closing that facility the national security of the United States will be enhanced,” he added.

Yet the vital information on OBL’s courier (not to mention the thwarted terrorist attack on the LA Library Tower) likely wouldn’t have been learned had it not been, in part, for Gitmo.  I won’t hold my breath waiting for the nitwit ideologues in this administration to admit that, though.  As Campaign 2012 gets ready to kick into high gear, it’s time for President Obama to shore up his pre-9/11 mentality creds with his base and what better way to do it than to dish out reassurances about the closing of Gitmo? 

To hell with our national security.  It’s time to try and get re-elected.

Obama won’t tell Holder to back off on his CIA witch hunt

**Posted by Phineas

Remember, these are the same people who got the initial leads to the courier who eventually lead us to bin Laden. And yet, as reported in this interview with Debra Burlingame, Obama has said that he will not tell Attorney General Eric Holder to end his investigation persecution of these CIA operatives — nor will he even talk to Holder about it:

Utterly disgraceful. “Thanks for leading us to bin Laden, guys. Here’s your reward: possible prosecution. Better start paying some lawyers a retainer. Hope you have enough savings.”

Granted, the position of the Attorney General is unique in the Cabinet: a president should never attempt to interfere in an ongoing case or use the Justice Department to go after foes or favor cronies. That’s the dread “politicization.’ President Bush’s last AG, Michael Mukasey, was very strict about that.

But these are investigations that should never have been undertaken in the first place. The interrogators in question had already been cleared of wrongdoing by career attorneys in the Justice Department. There was no reason to reopen the case, but Holder did anyway — and don’t tell me it wasn’t with Obama’s approval.

This case already stinks to Heaven-on-high of politicization meant to appease Obama’s anti-war, anti-CIA, and anti-American base. Dropping it would be doing no less than justice, something that’s been missing at the Department of Justice for nearly three years, now.

And think about the national security implications: After 9-11, we were desperate to get a lead on the people who had attacked us. DoJ lawyers at the time drew up guidelines for how prisoners could be interrogated, including the circumstances under which waterboarding was appropriate. The interrogators –who were trying to keep any more of us from being killed– acted in good faith under those guidelines. And they succeeded. To tell them that they are still vulnerable to criminal liability is to tell any future CIA (or other US official) that they, too, might be investigated and prosecuted at some future date, regardless of what they were told at the time. Just how effectively do you think they’ll do their job with that hanging over their heads?

These men and women should be given thanks, not the back of the hand.

ADDENDUM: No, I don’t think waterboarding is torture. Neither does Marc Thiessen, who wrote a great book on how Obama is courting disaster. But, even if it is torture, Charles Krauthammer writes that there are times when it is the lesser evil. And, to be honest, I’m still glad they did it. And yes, I’ve changed my thinking about whether waterboarding is torture. So there.

LINKS: Linda Chavez thinks the interrogators should be rewarded, not punished. Power Line is puzzled. Europe can’t resist its post-modern dementia and is starting to talk about “war crimes” in the assassination of bin Laden. And the UN, God love’em, wants details on the raid to make sure it was all legal. You can guess my opinion of the UN and its request.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Thiessen: US EITs were used to ‘elicit cooperation’ rather than gain intelligence

In light of all the back and forth that has taken place in the aftermath of the bin Laden termination, specifically the renewed debate on the effectiveness of aggressive interrogations, Bush-era administration official and counterterrorism expert Marc Thiessen explains in a great column in the Washington Post what the enhanced interrogation techniques used by US intelligence agencies were actually designed to do (bolded emphasis added by me):

Already, critics are desperately trying to play down the CIA interrogation program’s role in the bin Laden operation. Many are pointing to an Associated Press report that KSM “did not discuss al-Kuwaiti while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He acknowledged knowing him 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.”

This statement demonstrates ignorance of how CIA interrogations worked. Interrogators would never have asked about the names of couriers during waterboarding. As I explain in my book, “Courting Disaster,” enhanced techniques were not used to gain intelligence; they were used to elicit cooperation. According to former CIA director Mike Hayden, as enhanced techniques were applied, CIA interrogators would ask detainees questions to which the interrogators already know the answers — allowing them to judge whether the detainees had reached a level of compliance. “They are designed to create a state of cooperation, not to get specific truthful answers to a specific question,” Hayden said.

Once interrogators determined a terrorist had become cooperative, the techniques stopped and traditional, non-coercive methods of questioning were used. Moreover, the use of enhanced techniques wasn’t needed for two-thirds of the detainees in CIA custody.  Just the experience of being brought into CIA custody — the “capture shock,” arrival at a sterile location, the isolation, the fact that they did not know where they were and that no one else knew they were there — was enough to persuade most of them to cooperate.

Thanks to President Obama, this program, which helped lead us to bin Laden, is no longer part of America’s counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, outside of the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, there have been no reported U.S. detentions of high-value terrorists since Obama took office. Earlier this year, Umar Patek, the highest-ranking terrorist captured alive at this point in the Obama administration, was taken into custody by Pakistani authorities. Patek had traveled from Southeast Asia to Abbottabad — the same place where bin Laden was hiding. Coincidence? What was Patek doing in Abbottabad? With whom did he meet and what did they discuss? He should be in CIA custody answering such questions.

Absolutely, but that’s something this administration will never admit.  President Bush took a lot of bashing during his 8 years in office over his reluctance to admit mistakes, but President Obama – unsurprisingly – has pretty much gotten a pass on that same reluctance.  Bush eventually admitted he made mistakes with respect to post-war Iraq, wishing there were things he had done differently, lamenting the fact that there were people in his inner circle who he should have listened to but didn’t. 

On the other hand, grave, deadly mistakes in judgment by our celebrity President date back for years, most notably in 2008 over his outright refusal as the Democrat nominee for President to admit that the surge in Iraq – which he strongly opposed as a junior Senator from Illinois – had resulted in less violence in Iraq, which greatly aided in paving the way for civil, structural, and political progress.  This, too, is yet another example of this President’s absolute shameless hypocrisy and self-serving posturing and grandstanding.  He and his administration have been taking credit for the progress made in Iraq over the last few years when more or less all they have done is presided over the natural course of events that have taken place as a result of the success of the surge that President Bush authorized and put into place – a surge Bush once opposed but came around to support, and eventually implement.  This is what effective, mature leaders do.  They learn from their mistakes, try to make up for them, and move forward –  hoping for the best outcome.

Sadly, our current President is not that kind of leader – not that we didn’t know this well before he was elected to the WH, of course.  No doubt President Obama will finish out his first term – and if elected again, his second – without ever admitting that the most significant, high value, much-sought-after enemy termination in modern US history, if ever, came in part as a direct result of the use of aggressive counterterrorism techniques in secured overseas facilities – both of which he strongly condemned on both ideological and so-called “principled” grounds going back to his time in the Illinois state senate.  Yet, as recent history has shown us, while he openly denounces Bush’s wartime and counterterrorism policies, Obama surely has not minded reaping the rewards that have come of them.   What does this tell us about the character of the “leader of the free world”?  Quite a bit – none of it good.

In light of all this, it makes sense that President Bush decided against accepting President Obama’s invitation to join him today at Ground Zero, especially if this news story is accurate (hat tip):

WASHINGTON – George W. Bush won’t be at Ground Zero with President Obama Thursday in part because he feels his team is getting short shrift in the decade-long manhunt for Osama Bin Laden.

“[Bush] viewed this as an Obama victory lap,” a highly-placed source told the Daily News Wednesday.

Bush’s visit to the rubble after the 9/11 attacks was the emotional high point of his presidency, but associates say the invitation to return with his successor was a non-starter.

“He doesn’t feel personally snubbed and appreciates the invitation, but Obama’s claiming all the credit and a lot of other people deserve some of it,” the source added.

“Obama gave no credit whatsoever to the intelligence infrastructure the Bush administration set up that is being hailed from the left and right as setting in motion the operation that got Bin Laden. It rubbed Bush the wrong way.”

Bush spokesman David Sherzer said Bush “appreciated the invite, but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight.”

Associates familiar with his thinking say Bush does not believe Obama or his handlers wanted to exploit his presence. But the tag-team idea “was for the benefit of Obama, and Obama withheld credit from people Bush believes deserved it,” a source said.

Can’t say as I blame W.  He’s been a post-presidential class act all the way.  The guy who took his place, on the other hand, well, unfortunately – that’s a different matter altogether.

White House: Debate over EITs a “distraction from the broader picture”

Obama’s favorite word rears its ugly head once again:

The chain of clues that led to the Abbottabad compound where Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. special forces early Monday began with human intelligence. Senior administration officials have said key members of bin Laden’s inner-circle were flagged by post-9/11 detainees under interrogation, and that has raised an inescapable question: Did the chain begin with information gleaned from “enhanced interrogation” or waterboarding, the Bush-era technique President Obama and CIA chief Leon Panetta have decried as torture?

The White House insists that not only is the answer unknowable, but ultimately moot. “It’s impossible to know whether information obtained by [Enhanced Interrogation Techniques] could have been obtained by other forms of interrogation,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor tells TIME. “I think this is a distraction from the broader picture, which is that this achievement was the result of years of painstaking work by our intelligence community that drew from multiple sources.”

[…]

The Obama administration is steering clear of anything declarative. Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters Tuesday that he simply doesn’t know whether EITs could have yielded vital intelligence. “There was a mosaic of sources that lead to the identification of the people,” he said. And the White House is prepared to press the “mosaic” case aggressively.

“Multiple detainees have given us insights into networks of people who might have been close to Bin Laden. And beyond detainee reporting, solid information derived from other sources over many years ultimately helped solve an incredibly complex puzzle,” Vietor says. “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. So this argument just doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

What a deceitful load of crap! That argument is not that the code name for the courier who eventually led the US to bin Laden came as a direct result of KSM’s 2003 waterboarding. What people are saying is that over time – which various news reports bear out – while KSM was in US custody in either an evil “secret prison” or the “unconstitutional” Gitmo, that the information was gleaned over a period of time, possibly under threat of another waterboarding, and most assuredly it came after one of a series of rounds of very aggressive interrogating – and not just of KSM but Abu Faraj al Libi as well.

The Obama administration, including their “spokesmen”, want people to believe that Islamofascist thugs at all levels will give up crucial information merely when “standard” interrogation techniques are used. I take that back – that’s what they’re hoping people believe as they’d prefer nothing more than for the American people to be in the dark on any number of issues because that would mean that the administration would be questioned less. The undisputable fact is that Islamic fanatics live to DIE for their “cause.” Being a martyr is the name of the game. Yeah, they want to take out as many “infidels” as possible, but they don’t mind if they go out with them, because not only do they think it will it bring “honor” to their Islamic families, but also because they believe virgins are awaiting them in Allah’s “heaven.”

Nope, these guys don’t give up information easily, which is the main reason EITs were authorized for use. The Obama administration will forever refuse to admit their gross error in judgement on the issue of President Bush’s more “controversial” counterterrorism policies, and they have good reason to. Obama’s approval ratings, prior to the OBL kill, were tanking. As a result of the news of OBL’s demise, Obama’s ratings have risen 9 points. The administration understandably wants to ride that wave into Campaign 2012 as opposed to being “distracted” by the fact that the very victory that they can credit with the surge in approval ratings was enabled, in part, thanks to the Bush doctrine policies they and their fellow liberals swore up and down were absolutely, positively not conducive to obtaining valuable, actionable intelligence.

To modify a quote from someone pretty famous, if the Obama administration is counting on conservatives to be passive in this debate, they’ve counted wrong. Very wrong.

Blame Bush: Tactics vilified by liberals paved the way for eventual OBL kill

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 …

BREAKING: Osama bin Laden dead as a result of US strike (UPDATED)

Multiple news outlets are reporting the news. Not confirmed as to how or which country (Afghanistan or Pakistan). The President will be issuing a statement shortly on the matter.

Absolutely awesome news. It’s a symbolic victory as the war on terror will go on nevertheless, but that doesn’t diminish the historic significance of this kill. Supposedly it happened days ago It happened earlier today but the US wanted DNA confirmation first before they made the official announcement. Morons on Twitter and ABC News are making a partisan issue out of it by giving President Obama all the credit but the real credit goes to the boots on the ground, including both our military and intelligence agents who NEVER stopped looking for OBL in the aftermath of 9-11, never stopped hunting for him nor digging for intelligence from informants that would lead us to him.

Now is a good time to remember in prayer the victims of OBL’s Islamofascistic reign of terror. Decades of murder finally, at long last, officially avenged. It’s a great night.

Update – 11:41PM: The President says that the kill happened today after days of intelligence reports indicating where OBL was. Pakistani intelligence helped lead us to him. He says he authorized an operation to take OBL out. There was a firefight and no American troops were harmed. OBL was killed via a bullet to the brain.

News reports: Navy Seals being given credit for the operation.

Bret Baier on Fox is saying the President said the intelligence reports have been coming in since last August and in the last week he (Obama) authorized the use of force to take him out. I’ll need to review the speech. That’s not what I heard. Either way, OBL is gone and that is great news for us all.

Here’s a link to President Bush’s statement:

Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda network that attacked America on September 11, 2001. I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. They have our everlasting gratitude. This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.

Amen.

Here’s the text of President Obama’s speech.

A crowd of an estimated 2,500 are celebrating outside the WH. Celebrations also ongoing at Ground Zero. Awesome.

Update – 1:20 AM: How OBL was tracked.

The high price of the Obama administration’s war on CIA interrogators

The LA Times files a disturbing report about how the CIA has “slashed” its interrogation role in light of the administration’s stifling policies on interrogation techniques (via Memeorandum):

Reporting from Washington— He’s considered one of world’s most dangerous terrorism suspects, and the U.S. offered a $1-million reward for his capture in 2005. Intelligence experts say he’s a master bomb maker and extremist leader who possesses a wealth of information about Al Qaeda-linked groups in Southeast Asia.

Yet the U.S. has made no move to interrogate or seek custody of Indonesian militant Umar Patek since he was apprehended this year by officials in Pakistan with the help of a CIA tip, U.S. and Pakistani officials say.

The little-known case highlights a sharp difference between President Obama’s counter-terrorism policy and that of his predecessor, George W. Bush. Under Obama, the CIA has killed more people than it has captured, mainly through drone missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. At the same time, it has stopped trying to detain or interrogate suspects caught abroad, except those captured in Iraq and Afghanistan.“The CIA is out of the detention and interrogation business,” said a U.S. official who is familiar with intelligence operations but was not authorized to speak publicly.

Several factors are behind the change.
In January 2009, Obama ordered the CIA to abide by the interrogation rules of the U.S. Army Field Manual, which guides military interrogators and includes prohibitions on the use of physical force against detainees. Critics warn that Al Qaeda operatives could study the manual, which is available on the Internet, to learn how to resist its techniques, although no evidence has emerged suggesting that has happened.

Widespread criticism of Bush administration interrogation and detention policies as brutal and degrading led Obama to stop sending suspected terrorists to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Public exposure also forced the CIA to close a network of secret prisons. That left U.S. officials with no obvious place to hold new captives.

In addition, some CIA officers are spooked by a long-running criminal investigation by a Washington special prosecutor into whether CIA officers broke the law by conducting brutal interrogations of suspected terrorists during the Bush administration.

“Given the enormous headaches involved … it’s not surprising there are fewer people coming into our hands,” said Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA official.

Just like most other sane, clear-thinking people who have not forgotten 9-11, I want just as many terrorist thugs eliminated as possible, but at the same time I realize that it’s also important to be able to capture, detain, and aggressively interrogate terrorists who are thought to have intelligence value because many of them will have vital information that will aid in the fight against Islamofascism both here at home and abroad.  So while it’s unsurprising and, frankly, predictable that the CIA is taking the “kill rather than capture” approach to terrorists outside of those literally captured on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s nevertheless disturbing to read about all the same.   CIA agents in the field simply cannot rely on this President nor his America-last Attorney General to back them up, so many of them are taking the safe route with this approach rather than risk career, legal, and international retribution.  And in the process, bye bye, intelligence information.

By taking an insanely naive ideological rather than practical, tried and proven approach to handling known terrorists once we have them in our sights, this administration has effectively tied behind their backs the hands of some of the very people they rely on to gain valuable information that would lead to the capture of a high value terrorist like KSM, and/or information that would stop planned terrorist attacks before they happened.  This is exactly the type of pre-9-11 mindset that, in part, got thousands innocents murdered on one beautiful September morning.   This dangerous President and his head-in-sand administration cannot get voted out of office soon enough. 

Hurry up, November 2012.

Reality bites: Obama administration prepares to resume BAU at Gitmo

Right on the heels of the Politico story I wrote about earlier in which we learned that this administration was taking a more aggressive approach than past administrations when it comes to prosecuting so-called “whistleblowers” who leak information to the press that could jeopardize our national security comes this story on the “restarting” of Gitmo Bay from the Washington Post:

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama approved Monday the resumption of military trials for detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, ending a two-year ban.

It was the latest acknowledgement that the detention facility Obama had vowed to shut down within a year of taking office will remain open for some time to come. But even while announcing a resumption of military commission trials, Obama reaffirmed his support for trying terror suspects in U.S. federal courts – something that’s met vehement resistance on Capitol Hill.

“I strongly believe that the American system of justice is a key part of our arsenal in the war against al-Qaida and its affiliates, and we will continue to draw on all aspects of our justice system – including Article III courts – to ensure that our security and our values are strengthened,” the president said in a statement.

The White House also reiterated that the administration remains committed to eventually closing Guantanamo Bay, though Monday’s actions didn’t seem to bring that outcome any closer.

Under Obama’s order, Defense Secretary Robert Gates will rescind his January 2009 ban against bringing new cases against the terror suspects at the detention facility.

[…]

Closure of the facility has become untenable because of questions about where terror suspects would be held. Lawmakers object to their transfer to U.S. federal courts, and Gates recently told lawmakers that it has become very difficult to release detainees to other countries because Congress has made that process more complicated.

And, as a friendly reminder, it’s not just Republican lawmakers who are opposed to bringing Gitmo’s most dangerous onto US soil to face “civilian trials.”

Former Congressman/ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), one of the more outspoken critics of President Obama’s counterterrorism approach, wrote earlier at National Review Online:

It is amazing. After 16 months of review we end up at essentially the same place we started. After years of harshly criticizing President Bush, President Obama now continues his policies. The least he could do is say “I’m sorry” or “Thank you.”

How about just a good ol’ fashioned, “I was wrong”?

I know. Cold day in hell.

ACLU, far leftists wet pants – renew calls to prosecute Bush on ‘torture admission’ basis

Decision PointsIn President Bush’s new book Decision Points, the former prez. defends his decision to authorize the use of the enhanced interrogation technique called “waterboarding” in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks, and while he’s been out promoting the book on various TV talk show outlets he’s continued to strongly defend that decision. The technique, used a total of 3 times between 2001 and 2005 in isolated instances – including on admitted terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – became a rallying cry for the anti-war movement in its relentless quest to have Bush and his administration tried for “war crimes” on the basis that they were gleefully violating the Geneva conventions in the pursuit of unlimited executive power.

Those calls became somewhat muted about a year after President Obama was sworn into office as the Obama DOJ made clear that no such prosecutions were going to take place. The zealous “BusHitler” crowd has been lurking in wait for that perfect opportunity to push this issue onto the front burner again, and now they think they have it. The the HuffPo reports (via Memeorandum):

The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday joined a growing chorus in the human rights community calling for a special prosecutor to investigate whether former president George W. Bush violated federal statutes prohibiting torture.

In his new memoir and ensuing book tour, Bush has repeatedly admitted that he directly authorized the waterboarding of three terror suspects. Use of the waterboard, which creates the sensation of drowning, has been an iconic and almost universally condemned form of torture since the time of the Spanish Inquisition.

Except for a brief period during which a handful of Bush administration lawyers insisted that the exigencies of interrogating terror suspects justified its use, waterboarding has always been considered illegal by the Justice Department. It is also a clear violation of international torture conventions.

The ACLU is urging Attorney General Eric Holder to ask Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate Bush.

French columnist Jean-François Lisée writes if the US won’t prosecute Bush, 145 other countries should:

“Former President George W. Bush not only admits – he boasts – of having authorized the practice of known as waterboarding. A total of 145 other countries are signatories to the U.N. Convention Against Torture. And all have committed to enforcing its provisions, even against offenders residing in other territories. … If the Spain tribunal were to condemn him, even in absentia, he would then be subject to the mutual extradition treaty in force among 24 European countries.”

The ultra-far left PERRspectives website slithers into the debate:

Sadly, torture enthusiast [Rep. Peter] King has it exactly backwards. Enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding almost certainly don’t save lives, as the British government confirmed in rejecting Bush’s claims this week. And the damage done by breaking U.S. law, violating international treaty agreements, shaming the United States worldwide and providing a powerful propaganda victory for Al Qaeda will be difficult if impossible to reverse.

Spin Blvd. - Truth Ave.Because I’m anxious to get to the heart of the matter with respect to the allegations that Bush is a war criminal, I’m going to ignore the fact that there is no such thing as “almost certainly.” I’m also going to ignore the fact that the British government “confirmed” no such thing with respect to whether or not the waterboarding technique saved lives – they merely said there was “no evidence” to back up Bush’s claim (which isn’t true; I’ll get to that in a minute). I’m also going to ignore the fact that the only “propaganda victories” for Al Qaeda during the Bush administration were the ones handed to them eagerly by Bush-hating leftist nitwits like this bonehead at PERRspectives and others who painted the Bush administration – and our military men and women – as power-hungry, bloodthirsty, war-for-oil mongers whose sole purpose in waging the global war on terror was not to protect innocents here at home and abroad, but instead to satisfy their bloodlust for money, power, and vengeance … at any expense.

I’m also going to ignore the fact that no one who advocated the use of waterboarding in isolated incidents is a “torture enthusiast” any more so than leftists who support abortion are “baby-killing enthusiasts”, although in the latter instance a case could be made by some that that is an accurate description of the likes of NOW, especially when you consider the fact that a whole lot more unborn babies have been aborted than terrorists waterboarded. But I digress …

Anyway, as to the claim that waterboarding “almost certainly” does not save lives. Wrong. I wrote about this in April 2009:

Critics of EITs (enhanced interrogation techniques) like Andrew Sullivan and Slate’s Tim Noah are spreading false and/or incomplete information about the fact that the waterboarding of KSM led to the disruption of the LA Library Tower terror plot. They point to information suggesting that the plot was broken up before KSM was in US custody.

They’re right. Sort of.

In actuality, there were two plots against the LA Library Tower – it was the second one that was broken up thanks to KSM’s singing after he was waterboarded. The LA Times reported this in October 2005, but former Bush admin official Marc Thiessen, who worked in various capacities for Bush – including speechwriting – has been a pit bull on the issue, writing several times at the National Review Online site to debunk the critics who are saying that EITs “don’t work.” He also wrote a piece that appeared in the Washington Post a week ago talking about how EITs were essential in stopping the second plot against LA. Thiessen’s got even more details on the disrupted “Second Wave” plot here.

The far left’s arguments go something like this: Waterboarding is “torture” and “torture” is forbidden by the Geneva conventions. And even if it wasn’t forbidden by the Geneva conventions, it doesn’t work.

KSMWell, I know – and you know – for a fact that it does indeed work, as the case of KSM clearly demonstrates. Also, think about this: Remember that “memo” that the left crowed about for years that Bush received prior to 9-11, the so-called “smoking gun memo” that allegedly proved (in reality, it didn’t) that “Bush knew” and did nothing to stop 9-11? Then think about the plots on the LA Library Tower and how they were disrupted, one of them thanks to a “controversial” technique authorized by the Bush administration to use in rare instances where the interrogators believed they could effectively get information from a suspect with the use of that technique in the event that other techniques didn’t work. What would have happened had the attack taken place, with thousands more killed? The left would have looked for “smoking gun” evidence again that “Bush knew” and did nothing. Fortunately, thanks to his authorization of the use of the waterboarding technique, the US government DID KNOW. And they stopped it. But don’t tell that to far leftists. You just can’t win with these clueless idiots. You really can’t.

As to whether or not waterboarding is indeed “illegal” under the Geneva conventions, I’ll leave that to the experts to debate. But let’s assume for five minutes that the authorization of the use of waterboarding was “illegal.” I’m sure I’ve not been the first to ask this but “Who cares?” (Yeah, liberals – you can quote me on that.) When it comes to the safety and security of our nation, a Commander in Chief’s PRIMARY responsibility is to protect US citizens from foreign aggressions, and sometimes that’s going to mean that he may feel its necessary to step outside of the bounds of “international law” when “international law” interferes with his chief obligation under US law to protect this country. That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t try to follow the “rules of war” as we expect other countries to do, but it IS to say that the CIC is not always going to bind himself 100% to any so-called “international law” that he feels could inadvertently cause harm to the American people.

President Bush - 2001 InauguralContra to the left’s absurd claims about how the Bush administration, specifically the DOJ and other admin legal advisers, excitedly recommended any controversial counterterrorism technique in the name of bloodlust and power, there was actually an extensive debate within as to how to effectively and legally prosecute the war on terror both home and abroad within the bounds of the President’s authority as the Commander in Chief and First Defender of the United States. Some techniques were rejected. Some were accepted and authorized. The adminstration even unofficially stopped the use of waterboarding after 2005 (which hasn’t stopped the left from demagoguing them about it). And one thing that cannot be overstated in all of this is the timeframe these discussions were being held: in the months and years after 9-11, when all that was on anyone’s mind was preventing another horrific terror attack on American citizens.

George W. Bush had to wake up every morning after 9-11 knowing that 3,000 innocents were savagely murdered on American soil on his watch on a beautiful September morning. God knows he wasn’t perfect in the aftermath of 9-11, and some of the decisions he and his administration made were not always the right ones, but anyone not swimming in the hate cesspool and who even has half a brain can see that everything that both he and his administration tried to do after 9-11 was done solely with the intent to protect you, me, and millions of innocents -not just here, but all over the world. This is what real leaders do during a crisis. They lead. They decide. And then they act.

Contrast President Bush’s actions and alleged “violations of international law” with the actions of the great FDR, who interned over 100,000 Japanese-Americans during WWII, and Honest Abe, who suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. Both of these were blatant violations of US law – aka the CONSTITUTION – yet history has not, in retrospect, judged these men as “war criminals” but instead as great wartime leaders who acted in the best interests of the American people even though some of their decisions were not always right nor legal.

The same will be said one day about George W. Bush. But don’t hold your breath waiting for it to be said by “historians” and “experts” and Harvard-esque “professors” and “human rights” advocates. Today, as has been the case from day one of the Bush adminstration, they’ve never, ever let the a pesky thing like the facts get in the way of a good old-fashioned hate-filled extremist rant. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for history to do its thing in order for us to judge these self-important nitwits, do we?

Phineas jumps in: ST has ably skewered the “Bush is a war criminal” nonsense, and I have little to add. However, the issue of using waterboarding to uncover the “second wave” attacks, the planning of which were well underway, is a personal one for me, since I live in the intended target: Los Angeles. I will, however, link to a post I wrote last year that may be of interest: I’m glad they tortured him. (And I still am, too.)