More information is coming out about how American intelligence identified and tracked down the al Qaeda courier who led to Osama bin Laden. It appears that the CIA’s interrogations of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi provided the information that began the chain the culminated in bin Laden’s death yesterday:
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.
KSM and Libi are two of the three al Qaeda leaders who were waterboarded. Published accounts indicate that waterboarding was key to getting valuable information from them. Our intelligence on al Qaeda and other terrorists groups is of course much better than it was in 2001, but it is still possible that in the future we may capture a terrorist who has information that we have an imminent need to extract. Should that happen, it is unfortunate that waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques, which can best be viewed as humane alternatives to torture, have been taken off the table.