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.
The news is sure to reignite debate over whether the now-closed interrogation and detention program was successful. Former president George W. Bush authorized the CIA to use the harshest interrogation tactics in U.S. history. President Barack Obama closed the prison system.
Some on the political Left have -- in certain cases shamefully and opportunistically -- exploited and lied about the issue of enhanced interrogation techniques for fleeting political gain. The mainstream media has at times publicized some of our most sensitive secrets on this front. The current administration, which deserves some credit for the timing and effectiveness of the bin Laden raid, chose to air what it considered to be America's dirty laundry in a wrong-headed act of misplaced international penance.
The Bush administration established secret CIA prisons in Europe and elsewhere to detain and question high value terrorists. 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was one of three men the CIA waterboarded to glean information. We now know that some of that intel led to Osama bin Laden's death (in addition to other documented useful information KSM coughed up under duress).
Former Vice President Cheney has been a forceful defender of the previous administration's counter-terrorism policies. His arguments have proven quite persuasive, even in these politically correct times. This new detail will surely buttress the case that far from being inhumane or unconscionable, the Bush administration's decision to treat terrorists as terrorists not only helped save lives, but directly contributed to an event that had Americans literally dancing in the streets last night. President Obama will receive kudos for ordering this strike -- and rightfully so. He eschewed an easier, less risky plan that may have left some doubt as to bin Laden's status. Today, there is no doubt. But Obama's much-maligned presidential predecessor also deserves the gratitude of all Americans today. After 9/11, his team worked 'round the clock to successfully prevent another attack on our soil, and implemented some hard-nosed policies that bore fruit years later in the early morning hours of May 2nd in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The national debate over enhanced interrogation techniques won't vanish with this revelation. People of good faith on both sides can disagree on the efficacy and morality of harsh tactics. I do hope, however, that we can dispense with one nonsensical anti-EIT talking point: That they don't work. They do. Just ask Osama bin Laden.