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Was It Really Obama Who Got Osama?

Samara Greenberg

The use of enhanced interrogation techniques under the Bush administration may be the reason for Osama bin Laden’s death Sunday night.

While information is still coming in, U.S. officials have confirmed that the aggressive interrogation techniques used on al-Qaeda members after 9/11 resulted in the description of bin Laden’s courier network, including one particularly close courier who had U.S. intelligence officials’ “constant attention.” That same courier was with bin Laden when the U.S. SEALs raided his compound on Sunday.

According to one U.S. official, Guantanamo Bay detainee Mohammed al-Qahtani, after being subjected to harsh interrogations at Guantanamo, provided a wealth of information about al-Qaeda, including references to the courier.

A diagram of Osama bin Laden’s compound released by the Department of Defense.

In addition, according to reports, both 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times by the CIA, and his successor Abu Faraj al Libi, who was aggressively interrogated but not waterboarded after being captured in 2005, provided the courier’s nom de guerre. According to Bush administration officials, by the end of their tenure, they believed the terrorist courier network would be critical to tracking down bin Laden.

And while U.S. officials confirm they did not receive the identity of the courier until after the CIA enhanced interrogation program was terminated, this fact may prove that the techniques were a success rather than a failure. According to officials, KSM continued to talk extensively for three years after the CIA stopped using coercive measures, and it could be during that time that he disclosed information on bin Laden’s courier.

The fact is, at this point in time and with the information available, there is no way of knowing exactly how bin Laden’s whereabouts were uncovered. It was most likely through a mixture of interrogations, surveillance, undercover work, and various other intelligence measures. Nevertheless, the importance of using enhanced interrogation techniques under President Bush’s administration should not be downplayed. Indeed, both Presidents Obama and Bush should be recognized for their roles in finally bringing the world’s most wanted terrorist to justice.