Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rep. Peter King: Initial Information on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti Was Obtained by Waterboarding in 2003

The debate continues today.

My previous post indicated that waterboarding put intelligence officials "on the trail" of Abu Ahmad. No doubt my ace commenter James B. SpongeBob has some questions for Representative Peter King, and of course J.B. SpongeBob didn't provide all the information on Donald Rumsfeld's comments, for example, speaking on The Today Show yesterday, Rumsfeld that the intelligence on Bin Laden may well "have come from interviews at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

And Matt Lewis quotes Karl Rove from his appearance on Fox & Friends yesterday:
Look, there is continuity in these kind of things and the tools that President Bush put into place, GITMO, rendition, enhanced interrogation, the vast effort to collect and collate this information, put it in a usable form obviously served his successor quite well because this served the information of the courier several years ago and moved forward to this administration.
And Thomas Joscelyn's leaning that way as well, "Did Enhanced Interrogation of the 20th Hijacker Help Identify Bin Laden’s Courier?"

And John Yoo yesterday, "Bush-Obama Continuity Is the Key to Terror War Victories":
Anonymous government sources say that the al Qaeda courier who led our intelligence people to bin Laden was a protege of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the 9/11 attacks who was captured in 2002, subjected to enhanced interrogation methods, and yielded a trove of intelligence on al Qaeda. Those same sources admit that interrogation of al Qaeda leaders, presumably by the CIA, yielded the identity of the courier. That identity was then combined into a mosaic of other information from other detainee interrogations, electronic intercepts, and sources in other countries, to eventually identify bin Laden’s hideout.
And here's this at The Atlantic, "Rethinking Guantanamo After Detainee Info Led to Bin Laden." Can't block quote that one without decontextualizing it, although it's noted that conflicting reports "are being used to support arguments in both directions."

There's a big report on Abu Ahmad at Telegraph UK. It's Hassan Ghul who gave up the Ahmad's name, but again, would that have been possible without the earlier intelligence from harsh interrogations?

More later.


JBW said...

Rumsfeld that the intelligence on Bin Laden may well 'have come from interviews at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba'.

Yeah, I've already said this twice, Don. I'm not saying that the CIA doesn't get good information through interrogation or that the courier's nickname didn't come from Gitmo, my point is that Rumsfeld expressly denies the use of waterboarding to retrieve this information, as Hemmer says to King in the interview. Again, King cites no specific source for his claims.

Lewis quotes WaPo's David Ignatius in his piece saying that enhanced interrogation techniques helped lead to Bin Laden’s location and that Rove echoed these sentiments. From Ignatius' piece at Real Clear Politics:

The trail that led to bin Laden's hideout in the town of Abbottabad, about 75 miles north of Islamabad, began between 2002 and 2004 with the CIA's interrogation of al-Qaeda "high-value targets" at secret CIA sites overseas. Several detainees mentioned the "nom de guerre," or nickname, of one of bin Laden's couriers.

Some of the detainees who confirmed the courier's nickname were subjected to "enhanced interrogation techniques," the CIA's formal name for what is now widely viewed as torture. This adds a moral ambiguity to a story that is otherwise one of triumphal retribution and justice.

As I showed from the NYT and ABC stories you linked to earlier, the "nom de guerre" of the courier (al-Kuwaiti) came from Gitmo, hence that's where "The trail that led to bin Laden's hideout" began. The detainees at the black sites didn't "mention" al-Kuwaiti, interrogators specifically asked about him after getting the name from Gitmo.

The detainees "who confirmed the courier's nickname" were KSM (who only did so during standard interrogation, not waterboarding) and al-Libi (who while being waterboarded, lied about not knowing al-Kuwaiti and made up another name for the courier).

Yoo only says that "sources admit that interrogation of al Qaeda leaders, presumably by the CIA, yielded the identity of the courier". Again, no specific mention of waterboarding to achieve this. The Telegraph piece says "The file suggests that the courier’s identity was provided to the US by another key source, the al-Qaida facilitator Hassan Ghul, who was captured in Iraq in 2004 and interrogated by the CIA." Once again, no mention of waterboarding.

Yes, people were waterboarded at black sites but according to the information that we have that technique didn't work as well as standard interrogation techniques and actually produced bad information and lies. The fact that al-Libi was such a bad liar doesn't prove that "Waterboarding Works!"

JBW said...

I was just reading Sullivan and he echoes pretty much everything I've said here. Great minds and all that...