We have been saying it for 3 days now and others are joining the chorus: but for the aggressive interrogation policies he decried as Candidate Obama, President Barack Obama would have never capture/killed Osama bin Laden.
Listen to this from Washington wise-man Michael Barone:
While we may not know all the details about and behind this operation, it's fascinating to see how many of the things that made the success of this operation possible were not so long ago decried by many of the president's fans and fellow partisans.
For one thing, it apparently would not have happened without those infamous enhanced interrogation techniques — “torture,” according to critics of the Bush administration.
The enhanced interrogation techniques reportedly led to identification of the courier who eventually led our forces to bin Laden's hiding place. Critics of waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques assured us that “torture” could not produce reliable information.
They were probably right that sometimes such techniques yield false information. But the bin Laden operation shows that they can also produce actionable intelligence.
The important point made by the former Deputy Director of the CIA, John McLaughlin, is that the interrogation procedures were used to obtain intelligence, not inflict pain. Though we wouldn't be opposed to torturing the architect of 9/11 just to inflict pain on that animal.
From Time Magazine:
While reports suggest that the information KSM provided on the courier came weeks or months after he was subjected to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT), [former CIA Head of Counterterrorism]Jose Rodriguez says al-Libbi’s tips came just one week after he was subjected to the harsh treatment.
Former George W. Bush officials say the use of EITs is misunderstood. “The main thing that people misunderstand about the program is, it was intended to encourage compliance,” says John McLaughlin, deputy director of the CIA during the period in which waterboarding was used. “It wasn’t set out to torture people. It was never conceived of as a torture program.”
One former senior intelligence official says that “once KSM decided resistance was unwise, he started spilling his guts to the agency and started providing lots of info, like the noms de guerre of couriers and explaining how al-Qaeda worked.” Rodriguez says, ”It’s a mistake to say this was about inflicting pain. These measures were about instilling a sense of hopelessness, and that led them to compliance.” None of the Bush officials made a clear distinction between inducing compliance and torture.
As Michael Barone says in the beginning of his piece, President Obama deserves credit in a “cheerful and ungrudging” way. He had the guts and the resolve to order the mission to kill bin Laden. But let's also not forget that he wouldn't have had the opportunity to order that mission if his policies had been in place when we first captured the top echelons of al Qaeda's leadership.