The Obama team is said to have been dismayed by the rapidity with which the national subject has switched from the death of Usama Bin Laden to the use of torture in interrogations.
The first thing to say is that Democratic leaders and the Obama administration only have themselves to blame for this torture issue still being salient. It can be deployed by the Cheney family and their surrogates only because Democratic leaders made a decision not to have anyone prosecuted for the crimes of the Bush administration. Not torture. Not warrantless domestic surveillance. Nada. If there had been prosecutions, and, better, convictions for torture, then people defending it would be defending convicted criminals,and would reveal themselves for what they are.
The second thing to say is that an Arabic source suggests that interrogations may not have been decisive in cracking the case. Al-Sharq al-Awsat, interviews Nu’man Bin Uthman, a former fighter with a Libyan terrorist group, who is reformed and now based in London, but still has good contacts among radicals.
Bin Uthman says that his sources tell him that Bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti, made a key mistake when, in 2010, he used a Thurayya satellite phone to call an important al-Qaeda leader based in Iraq.
This allegation is plausible. It appears to have been 2010 when al-Kuwaiti was tracked to the house in Abbotabad by US intelligence. The US excels at signals intelligence.
It is not clear how Bin Uthman knows about the fatal 2010 telephone call, but remaining al-Qaeda leaders may have done a quick review after their leader was killed, and concluded that this mistake had led to the US raid; perhaps they are sending around their conclusion to warn others in the organization not to be so stupid.
So, interrogation may have helped confirm al-Kuwaiti’s role as courier to Bin Laden, but the phone call would have led US intelligence to begin tracking him anyway.
Torture is despicable, and that we are even having this debate shows how far we have moved from the Bill of Rights and our Constitution.