After 8-10 years of digging to gather intel — some of it obtained only by waterboarding, after milder techniques had failed — the stage was set for the current president to have the luxury of making the easy call to capture or kill bin Laden.
Which is ironic, since the current president outlawed those very same techniques in 2009, and even claimed they would make us safer, and openly campaigned against them for years, with his cronies Dick Durbin and Nancy Pelosi. This, and more, we learn from Former CIA counterterrorism chief offers new details of how detainees led us to Bin Laden, about the new book by Jose Rodriguez, former CIA head of Clandestine Service, called “Hard Measures”.
The chain of events began many years ago, with interrogating Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Chief Scumbag of al-Qaeda and mastermind of many terrorist plots, including 9/11 and the failed Operation Bojinka in the mid-90s. He also was the guy who cut off the head of Daniel Pearl. On video. And then he held it up, triumphant.
Once again: he took a big knife, and cut the head off of a living, screaming person, and then held it up in the air, and he made sure to take video of this disgusting moment. This is the Islamist, jihadist mindset in a nutshell: not just cutting the heads off of live people, but proud of it.
These are not the kind of people we should worry about upsetting. More to the point, why does any American rush to judge our interrogators who always use the mildest methods possible to achieve the largest intel gains, under the rule of law, yet refuse to judge the horrors perpetrated on Daniel Pearl, embraced and sanctioned by the Islamist movement? Because there is something seriously wrong with all of them, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise. And when depravity like this goes largely un-noticed, except for a couple of days in the headlines, then you have to start questioning people’s motives and moral capacity.
So in the bigger picture, if we ended up having to waterboard a depraved thug like KSM a bunch of times, and make him scared and uncomfortable and feeling like he was drowning, in order to disrupt terrorist actions, I’m really quite OK with it.
Let’s review some facts about waterboarding: 1) we only used it on three of these terrorist scumbags, 2) it was just one of several enhanced interrogation techniques, most of which were somewhat banal, like slapping with an open hand, sleep deprivation and extremely loud music, 3) we had policies and procedures in place to limit its use, and 4) we gained reams of intel that led to disrupting plots that endangered us. And 5) our own military undergoes similar stress and feelings of drowning, routinely, during Special Forces training.
So back to the story. We took the knowledge that KSM was worried about getting to OBL’s courier, and went to find out who he was, which took about 6 years.
An al-Qa’ida operative was captured in 2004. He was quickly turned over to the CIA. He had computer discs with him that showed that he was relaying information between al-Qa’ida and Abu Musab Zarqawi… Initially, he played the role of a tough mujahideen and refused to cooperate. We then received permission to use some (but not all) of the EIT procedures on him. Before long he became compliant and started to provide some excellent information…. He told us that bin Ladin conducted business by using a trusted courier with whom he was in contact only sporadically. He said that the Sheikh (as bin Ladin was referred to by his subordinates) stayed completely away from telephones, radios, or the internet in an effort to frustrate American attempts to find him. And frustrated we were.
We pressed him on who this courier was and he said all he knew was a pseudonym: “Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.” This was a critical bit of information about the identity of the man who would eventually lead us to bin Ladin.
Now ask yourself, without enhanced interrogration techniques to uncover that intel, would that scenario have worked out better for us, or for the other side? You tell me. Think about it, and don’t forget, the cost of being wrong is potentially catastrophic.
And now, our president, who wanted to prosecute the guys who waterboarded KSM, even though they were within policy guidelines, seems a little too much in love with himself and his easy decision to claim glory while riding on the backs of those who do the real work, the rough and dangerous work, and who get little glory but instead much criticism, compared (by my very own Sen. Dick Durbin) to the tactics of Stalin, the Nazis, and Pol Pot. Democrats like Durbin and Obama have zero credibility in this discussion, having called for elimination of these techniques before he was president, and then, in Obama’s case, actually eliminating them when he became president. And there is no doubt whatsoever that Durbin or Pelosi would have done exactly the same thing.