Patterico's Pontifications

5/3/2011

Leon Panetta: Okay, I Admit it. Waterboarding Gave Us Some of the Information That Led to the Killing of bin Laden (Video Added)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 9:48 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

That’s not a quote, obviously, but well, how else do you interpret this?

CIA Director Leon Panetta stomped on the White House’s political script when he told Tuesday night’s broadcast of NBC Nightly News that the waterboarding of jihadi detainees contributed information that led to the location and killing of Osama bin Laden.

“We had multiple series of sources that provided information with regards to this situation… clearly some of it came from detainees [and] they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of those detainees,” he told NBC anchor Brian Williams.

When asked by Williams if water-boarding was part of the “enhanced interrogation techniques,” Panetta simply said “that’s correct.”

Update: You can view video of this exchange by clicking on this image:

So, um, can we stop claiming that waterboarding  doesn’t work?

I mean let’s back up a little.  Just about everyone opposes hard-core torture, like ripping out fingernails and electroshock (except maybe in a ticking bomb scenario).  And only a few loons want us to limit our interrogation to name, rank and serial number.  The question is when does interrogation become torture, and one thing you can say for certain is that waterboarding is close to the line.  It might be barely over it, or barely under it, but it’s clearly a close call.  So I completely respect anyone who says it is torture even if I disagree.

But the most ridiculous claim is that it supposedly doesn’t work.  Now of course pressuring anyone in any way to get a mere confession is of dubious value.  Torturing a guy to say “I did it,” is unreliable.  But if they are telling the truth, they can tell you things that are objectively verifiable.  Consider, for instance, this classic scene from Dirty Harry:

The context of the clip is this.  The psychopath had buried a girl alive and claimed he would give the location of the girl (giving them the chance to save her) if they paid a ransom.  They paid, with Eastwood delivering it, but the man refused to give the location, and so the torture in that scene followed.  So it was a “ticking bomb” scenario.  Also, alluded to and not shown, they find the girl where the psycho said, but she was already dead.  If memory serves she never had a chance of being saved in time.

Now if that hypothetical went to trial, the confession would be excluded from evidence (and in theory the body might be, too).  Why?  Not because it was unreliable.  Even in isolation the mere fact he knew where the girl was buried was highly incriminating.  But instead all of it, including the fact he knew where the body was, would be excluded on the theory that even then torture is not justified, and thus they wanted to remove an important incentive to police to engage in such conduct.

So let’s please stop the childish claim that waterboarding—hell, even torture—cannot be effective.  And let’s instead have the adult conversation about whether we as a people believe it is morally justified and if so, when.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Issa Eviscerates Holder on Gunrunner

Filed under: General,Gunrunner — Patterico @ 8:23 pm

The entire video is riveting, but if you’re short on time, I have transcribed the best parts in this post, complete with time stamps so can you skip ahead to the good stuff. Issa lays out the basic problem at :49:

ISSA: Mr. Attorney General, we have two Border Patrol agents who are dead, who were killed by guns that were allowed, as far as we can tell, to deliberately walk out of gun shops under the program often called Fast and Furious. This program, as you know — and the President’s been asked about it, you’ve been asked about it – allowed for weapons to be sold to straw purchasers, and ultimately, many of those weapons are today in the hands of drug cartels and other criminals. When did you first know about the program, officially, I believe, called Fast and Furious? To the best of your knowledge, what date?

HOLDER: I’m not sure of the exact date but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.

I doubt Holder’s claims that he just recently learned about it, but we’ll see. Asked whether Deputy Attorney General James Cole authorized the program, Holder at first stutters and says he didn’t hear the question, and then weakly says “my guess would be no.” Way to take the bull by the horns, Holder! You’re really banging heads together over there, aren’t you?

Issa gets a similarly evasive answer when he asks whether Lanny Breuer, the head of the Criminal Division, authorized the program. Make sure to watch at 2:13 as Holder nervously says he’s not sure, and then immediately launches into a lecture about how DoJ works. Issa stops Holder in his tracks:

ISSA: How about the head of the Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer. Did he authorize it?

HOLDER: I’m not sure whether Mr. Breuer authorized it. You have to understand the way in which the Department operates. Although there are operations, this one has become — has gotten a great deal of publicity.

ISSA: Yeah, there are dead Americans as a result of this failed and reckless program. So I would say that it hasn’t gotten enough attention, has it, Mr. Attorney General?

It’s nice to see that Issa isn’t backing down. When Holder claims that “there is an investigation that is underway” and that he is taking it seriously, Issa, obviously angry, baits the trap at 2:55:

ISSA: Mr. Attorney General, do you take seriously a subpoena signed by the Clerk of the House?

HOLDER: Of course.

ISSA: After 14 days of waiting for a letter to be signed or acknowledged or responded to, we sent a subpoena signed by the Clerk of the House. 32 days later, last night, your people responded by giving us 92 pages representing 3 documents that were public records already.

Ponder that one for a moment. So far, Issa’s people, after issuing a subpoena, have been given only documents that are already publicly available!

Congressmen exercising oversight responsibility do not issue subpoenas to get links to material on the Internet. Holder demonstrates almost Obama-like arrogance in responding in this fashion, while claiming to have no idea whether his top lieutenants greenlighted this irresponsible operation.

Holder and Issa then spar over whether further documents will be produced or merely made available for inspection. At 5:30, Issa asks a key question:

ISSA: Do you stand by this program? In other words — and it’s not a hypothetical, really. If you knew about this program 90 days ago, 180 days ago, would you have allowed it to continue, and if not, then what are you going to do about the people who did know and allowed it to continue?

Holder fails to answer the question about what he will do to the people who authorized the operation, but he does acknowledge that letting guns cross the border unmonitored is not something that is supposed to happen. Holder pontificates about the investigation he is conducting — but at 6:50, Issa makes it clear that the real investigation that needs to be undetaken is an investigation of Holder and Holder’s DoJ:

ISSA: We’re not looking at the straw buyers, Mr. Attorney General. We’re looking at you. We’re looking at your key people who knew or should have known about this and whether or not your judgment was consistent with good practices and whether or not instead the Justice Department is basically guilty of allowing weapons to kill Americans and Mexicans. So will you agree to cooperate with that investigation both on the House and Senate side?

HOLDER: We’ll certainly cooperate with all the investigations, but I’m going to take great exception to what you just said. The notion that somehow or other this Justice Department is responsible for those deaths that you mentioned, that assertion’s offensive. And I want to tell you that —

ISSA: But what if it’s accurate, Mr. Attorney General?

Boom! That, of course, is the real issue, and for Holder to pretend to be offended is an insult to the families of the victims who really should be offended at what the U.S. Government allowed to happen.

After Holder filibusters for a while about how offended he is at Issa’s question, Issa brings it home at 7:58: “What am I going to tell Agent Terry’s mother about how he died at the hand of a gun that was videotaped as it was sold to a straw purchaser fully expecting it to end up in the hands of drug cartels?”

Holder’s weak response is that “we’ll have to see exactly what happened with the guns that are at issue there.”

Yes, we will. But we won’t find out if Holder’s DoJ keeps stalling.

Luckily, it looks like Issa is going to stay on the case.

Click the image to watch.

UPDATE: There will be a Senate oversight hearing tomorrow featuring Holder. Hopefully Chuck Grassley will get to ask Holder a few questions about the way that DoJ has totally stiff-armed Grassley, arguing that they typically respond only to questions propounded by the party in power. (Yes, they really said that, albeit in fancier words.) Now that Holder has agreed to cooperate with “all” the investigations — never mind that he was just saying anything to shut up Issa because Holder is an empty suit — we’ll see if he and his Department start treating Sen. Grassley with more respect.

Egypt’s “moderate” and “largely secular” Muslim Brotherhood sides with Bin Laden

Filed under: General — Karl @ 7:02 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Another bonus to the killing of Osama bin Laden is that it helps tell Americans who their friends are. That group does not include Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which may dominate the nation’s next parliament:

Most of yesterday’s headlines proclaiming the death of Osama bin Laden used epithets like “terror mastermind” or “bastard” to refer to the internationally feared mass murderer. (That latter headline is from the New York Post.) But in its first public statement on the killing of bin Laden, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood used the honorific term “sheikh” to refer to the al-Qaeda leader. It also accused Western governments of linking Islam and terrorism, and defended “resistance” against the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan as “legitimate.”

The Muslim Brotherhood’s response to bin Laden’s death may finally end the mythology — espoused frequently in the U.S. — that the organization is moderate or, at the very least, could moderate once in power.

The Atlantic has highlights from the statement: (more…)

I Want to be Really, Really Clear on This… oSama is Dead, not oBama…

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 2:57 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update: Off topic, but this is a brilliant piece by Frank J. Flemming of IMAO. Thanks to Milhouse for pointing it out.

One of my first gallows humor jokes on the night we learned Osama bin Laden was killed was to say to my father, “watch how often people accidentally say Obama when they mean Osama.”  I even learned of one example and made it the joke of a post that night.

Well, it has been a very big problem getting this screwed up.  From Jimmy Kimmel’s show:

The best is when the woman (don’t recognize her) says that President Obama made killing Obama his top priority…

And from a less-funny “quirky” news segment:

Oy.

You can watch a round up of late night comedians, by the way, on the killing, here.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

About That Treasure Trove of Intel…

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 12:33 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

So another positive story to come out of the killing of bin Laden (and let’s face it, there is so many great things about it), is that we got a big cache of intel from it all.  Via Hot Air, as a work around from Politico:

The assault force of Navy SEALs snatched a trove of computer drives and disks during their weekend raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, yielding what a U.S. official called “the mother lode of intelligence.”

The special operations forces grabbed personal computers, thumb drives and electronic equipment during the lightning raid that killed bin Laden, officials told POLITICO…

Which is nice and all, but…  WHY THE HELL ARE YOU TELLING US THIS?! Are you stupid, insane, or actually treasonous?!

Seriously, listen to these officials talk:

“Hundreds of people are going through it now,” an official said, adding that intelligence operatives back in Washington are very excited to find out what they have.

“It’s going to be great even if only 10 percent of it is actionable,” the official said.

Here’s a hint, dipshit, none of that is actionable, now.  Chances are virtually all of that information can go bad—things like locations of bad guys, assumed names and the like can all be changed if the bad guys know we have that information.  Now if they are smart—and there is good reason to think they aren’t—they might have done that automatically as a precaution when bin Laden was killed. But if any of that information didn’t go bad the moment bin Laden reached room temperature, it went bad the moment word got out.

Seriously, if no one in the Obama administration is angry about this leak, they should be.  And they should find out who blabbed and throw the idiot or idiots in jail.

And, Mike Allen, the reporter, don’t think you are getting off the hook on this.  Did you even once ask if you should publish such sensitive information?

Seriously, this is straight up amateur hour.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Who Should Get the $25 Million Reward for Information Leading to bin Laden’s Capture? How About President George W. Bush?

Filed under: General,Obama,Terrorism — Patterico @ 7:12 am

Slate asks who should get that $25 million reward for the capture of Osama. Maybe it should be the man behind the intelligence techniques that led us to him: George W. Bush.

Aaron has already linked a story indicating that some of those famous harsh interrogation techniques may have led to KSM and others disclosing the name of the courier whose identity was the key to locating bin Laden.

Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden’s most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.

The New York Times provides further details:

Detainees at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had given the courier’s pseudonym to American interrogators and said that the man was a protégé of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.

American intelligence officials said Sunday night that they finally learned the courier’s real name four years ago, but that it took another two years for them to learn the general region where he operated.

Still, it was not until August that they tracked him to the compound in Abbottabad, a medium-sized city about an hour’s drive north of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

KSM lied about the courier’s role, and did not disclose his name during a waterboarding session. But, he did disclose it months after he had been waterboarded, during a “standard” interrogation session. Whether that standard session was more effective due to the previous waterboarding, we’ll probably never know.

And how did we track him to Abbottabad? Why, through that dastardly FISA:

When one of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted aides picked up the phone last year, he unknowingly led U.S. pursuers to the doorstep of his boss, the world’s most wanted terrorist.

That monitored phone call, recounted Monday by a U.S. official, ended a years-long search for bin Laden’s personal courier, the key break in a worldwide manhunt. The courier, in turn, led U.S. intelligence to a walled compound in northeast Pakistan, where a team of Navy SEALs shot bin Laden to death.

. . . .

But in the middle of last year, Ahmed had a telephone conversation with someone being monitored by U.S. intelligence, according to an American official, who like others interviewed for this story spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive operation. Ahmed was located somewhere away from bin Laden’s hideout when he had the discussion, but it was enough to help intelligence officials locate and watch Ahmed.

Just as a reminder, candidate and Senator Obama voted for FISA — but only after taking various contradictory positions on it, such as opposing the critical provisions for telecom immunity, without which it could not have worked.

I’m happy to see that President Obama has cast aside much of the rhetoric he used as a candidate when it comes to battling terrorists. But I’d rather give that $25 million to someone who is more of a straight talker: George W. Bush.

So… Now bin Laden DIDN’T Use His Wife as a Human Shield?! (Update: The Story Changes Again)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 5:45 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update: The story has changed again. Guys, how about you sort your story first and then get back to us?

What are they doing over there?  First, they dispose of bin Laden’s body quickly out of respect for Islam, while dumping it in the sea, which is apparently not in accord with Islam…  and then it turns out that the most useful propaganda story around…  is not true?

Yes, really.  Via Reuters, and several sources, including The Blaze:

Osama bin Laden’s wife not killed in raid, White House says

A woman killed during the U.S. raid of Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan was not his wife and was not used as a human shield by the al Qaeda leader before his death, a U.S. official said on Monday, correcting an earlier description.

John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s top counter- terrorism adviser, told reporters earlier that the slain woman had been one of bin Laden’s wives and had been used — perhaps voluntarily — as a shield during the firefight.

However, a different White House official said that account had turned out not to be the case. Bin Laden’s wife was injured but not killed in the assault.

How do you mess up a detail like that?  Seriously, how?  And why didn’t they make sure they got their story straight before they said a thing like that?

And all of this will give fuel to the fire of the increasing conspiracy theories that maintain that bin Laden isn’t dead after all.  It’s great that we managed to kill bin Laden, but we are really starting to screw up the aftermath.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]


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