There's yet another AP story, apparently being pushed hard by Bush-era intelligence officials, that it was the torture of KSM that led to bin Laden.
In a secret CIA prison in Eastern Europe years ago, al-Qaida's No. 3 leader, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, gave authorities the nicknames of several of bin Laden's couriers, four former U.S. intelligence officials said. Those names were among thousands of leads the CIA was pursuing....
The revelation that intelligence gleaned from the CIA's so-called black sites helped kill bin Laden was seen as vindication for many intelligence officials who have been repeatedly investigated and criticized for their involvement in a program that involved the harshest interrogation methods in U.S. history.
"We got beat up for it, but those efforts led to this great day," said Marty Martin, a retired CIA officer who for years led the hunt for bin Laden.
Here’s what a senior administration official said last night about when they got the intelligence on the courier.
Detainees gave us his nom de guerre or his nickname and identified him as both a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of September 11th, and a trusted assistant of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the former number three of al Qaeda who was captured in 2005.
Detainees also identified this man as one of the few al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin Laden. They indicated he might be living with and protecting bin Laden. But for years, we were unable to identify his true name or his location.
Four years ago, we uncovered his identity, and for operational reasons, I can’t go into details about his name or how we identified him, but about two years ago, after months of persistent effort, we identified areas in Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated. [my emphasis]
In other words, while the CIA may have learned the courier’s nickname earlier, they didn’t learn his true name until “four years ago”–so late 2006 at the earliest. And they didn’t learn where the courier operated until around 2009.
From these dates we can conclude that either KSM shielded the courier’s identity entirely until close to 2007, or he told his interrogators that there was a courier who might be protecting bin Laden early in his detention but they were never able to force him to give the courier’s true name or his location, at least not until three or four years after the waterboarding of KSM ended. That’s either a sign of the rank incompetence of KSM’s interrogators (that is, that they missed the significance of a courier protecting OBL), or a sign he was able to withstand whatever treatment they used with him.
The assumption is, then, that either "these men didn’t know the true name of their protégé and assistant (which is highly unlikely), or they managed to withhold that information even under torture."
Marcy reads the Cheney statement saying he "assumes" that torture led to bin Laden differently because he "admits he doesn’t know where the intelligence came from." She's spot on in pointing out that the failure of Cheney to take full credit for the torture policy he loves so much, and spent so much time propagandizing. She says, since he "can’t claim definitively that the intelligence came from it, is a pretty good tell that he can’t say it did." She also points out that Donald Rumsfeld, who would have every reason to crow that the policies he supported had a good outcome, will only go so far as to say the intelligence might have come from detainees at Guantanamo.
Note clearly that neither of these two endorsing the idea that the waterboarding of KSM nine years ago—all 183 incidents of it—led to the name and location of the courier, which current intelligence officials say they learned in the last four years. It's not even clear that KSM's interrogators were even interested then in obtaining information about the couriers. The timeline, and every report that says the specific information on the courier was obtained in recent years at Guantanamo make the KSM waterboarding story incredible.
All of which makes it look like the AP is being used by these Bush-era intelligence officials to justify their illegal actions.
All of the arguments against torture that we've all used for so many years still exists: it's morally wrong and inherently anti-American; it results in false intelligence; it fuels hatred against us; it increases the likelihood that captured Americans would be tortured. That, and more, remains as true today as when the Bush administration started torturing to obtain the false evidence to justify the war in Iraq.
Dick Cheney still says "We need to keep in place those policies that made it possible for us to succeed in this case," meaning torture. He's still wrong.