The most incredible and false claim in the Senate intelligence committee’s report on the CIA interrogation program is that the program was neither necessary nor effective in the agency’s post-9/11 pursuit of al-Qaeda. The report, written by the committee’s Democratic majority and disputed by the Republican minority and the CIA, uses information selectively and distorts facts to “prove” its point.
I won’t try to convince you that the program was the right thing to do — reasonable people will differ. Nor will I discuss the management of the program, other than to say that the record clearly shows the agency went to extraordinary lengths to assure it was both legal and approved — and the CIA halted the program when uncertain. What I want to address instead is the committee’s assertion that the intelligence produced by the interrogation program was not required to stop al-Qaeda terrorists.
The Democratic staffers who drafted the report assert the program contributed nothing important, apparently to bolster a bogus claim that the CIA lied. But let’s look at a few cases:
? Finding Osama bin Laden. The committee says the most critical information was acquired outside the interrogation program.
Not true. The man who led the United States to bin Laden, a courier known as Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, was mentioned by earlier sources but only as one of many associates bin Laden had years before. Detainees in the CIA interrogation program pushed Kuwaiti to the top of the list and caused the agency to focus tightly on him. The most specific information about the courier came from a detainee, Hassan Ghul, who, after interrogation, strengthened the case by telling of a specific message the courier had delivered for bin Laden to operations chief Abu Faraj al-Libi. Finally, interrogated senior operatives such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who by that time was enormously cooperative, lied when confronted with what we had learned about the courier. That was a dramatic tip-off that he was trying to protect bin Laden.