Patt Morrison for May 4, 2011

Bin Laden’s death revives the torture debate: did enhanced interrogation produce good intelligence?

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People gather outside Osama Bin Laden's compound, where he was killed during a raid by U.S. special forces, May 3, 2011 in Abottabad, Pakistan.

Without a top secret national security clearance it’s difficult to piece together the evidence that led to the tracking and killing of Osama bin Laden, but based on accounts that have leaked out it’s clear the path to the compound in Pakistan went back years and several captured al Qaeda operatives. Intelligence authorities had to find out the identities of the couriers who carried messages to and from bin Laden, and from there the now infamous Abbottabad compound was located—but how was this information extracted and could it have involved “enhanced” interrogation tactics like waterboarding? The debate over torture of terrorist detainees has begun anew after bin Laden’s death with supporters of the Bush Administration claiming that enhanced interrogation provided the intelligence that lead to bin Laden. Meanwhile Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she did not think that torture produced any actionable bin Laden intelligence. Would you think differently about torture if it helped find Osama bin Laden?


Michael Isikoff, national investigative correspondent for NBC News & Newsweek magazine

Glenn L. Carle, a retired C.I.A. officer and author of the forthcoming book The Interrogator: An Education, about his experience interrogating a senior al-Qai’ida detainee

John Radsan, founder and director of the National Security Forum and associate professor of law at the William Mitchell College of Law; former assistant general counsel to the CIA from 2002 - 2004

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