Reality Check: Did water-boarding lead us to bin Laden?

By Ben Swann email | bio

We know where the road to finding Osama Bin Laden ended.  Where it began, however, is becoming the source of heated debate.  Mainly because "enhanced interrogation techniques" like water-boarding, which President Obama banned his second day in office, may have actually been the catalyst for killing Bin Laden.

"Nothing has been found to indicate that this came out of Guantanamo and people were questioned but there were no positive answers as to the identity of this number one courier."  says Congresswoman Dianne Feinstein of California.

That is not the whole story.

To begin, the water-boarding did not happen at Guantanamo Bay at all.   It happened in a separate location, a "black prison location" probably in Romania and was done by the CIA.

By the way, only three people were ever water-boarded during the Bush era "enhanced interrogations".

According to information that has come from the White House, intelligence experts found Bin Laden by tracking a trusted courier.  In fact, most members of Al Qaeda didn't even know where Bin Laden was only this one trusted courier.

"I have spoken with people who are very close to the investigation who say that initial information came from Kalid Sheik Mohammed after he was water-boarded, directly relating to the courier."  says Congressman Peter King.

That is apparently true.

It was after a water-boarding interrogation in 2003, when Kalid Shiek Mohammed first told interrogators about the courier who was described as a "trusted assistant" of former Al-Qaeda, number three man,  Abu Faraj al-Libbi.

Kalid Shiek Mohammed was water-boarded 183 times.

Mohammed gave up the courier's nickname, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.

In 2005, al-Libbi was captured and confirmed the identity of the courier and the nickname.

Jay Carney, the White House Spokesman said Wednesday, "To suggest that a piece of information that may or may not have been gathered 8 years ago somehow directly led to a successful mission, uh on Sunday, that's just not the case."

That's not a fair assessment.

Because the nickname of the courier was all water-boarding was able to get, it took until 2007 for intelligence officials to get the real name of the courier, Shaikh Abu Ahmed.

By then, the Bush administration had ended the "enhanced interrogations".  Then another 3 years went by before the courier's location was found.  That reportedly happened in July of last year.  Tracking the movements of Ahmed, intelligence officials were able to locate Bin Laden's compound.

Here's what you need to know.

Those who support water-boarding and other forms of enhanced interrogation may feel vindicated but those who don't support it will never believe that the same information couldn't have been gained through regular interrogation.

At the end of the day, water-boarding is never going to be used again by the CIA, at least not in a way that the public will know about.  The reason for that is simple.  The vast majority of the American public do not agree with those kinds of interrogations.

The good news is that along with killing Bin Laden, CIA operatives were able to access computers and hundreds of hard-drives with enormous amounts of information about Al-Qaeda  and they won't have to interrogate anyone for that information.

And that is Reality Check.