Did Harsh Interrogation Tactics Lead To Bin Laden? Documents from the Guantanamo detention camp show prisoners there and at secret CIA facilities were interrogated over and over about Osama bin Laden's courier network. About a third of the CIA detainees were subjected to what the agency euphemistically called enhanced interrogation techniques.

Did Harsh Interrogation Tactics Lead To Bin Laden?

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.


To find bin Laden, U.S. officials first had to find his courier, who went by the name Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. NPR has learned, by the way, that he was Pakistani and was born in Kuwait. To find the courier, the U.S. questioned people at Guantanamo. Supporters of the Bush administration insist this case justifies the administration's interrogation techniques. Critics have said otherwise. The underlying facts are not fully clear. NPR's Tom Gjelten reports on what we know so far.

TOM GJELTEN: One man scheduled to be transferred out of Guantanamo, for example, was recommended for continued detention, in part because intelligence officials thought he had more information to provide about al-Kuwaiti.

INSKEEP: General Michael Hayden, the former CIA director, describes what those techniques included.

MICHAEL HAYDEN: They range from something as innocuous as something called the attention grasp or the facial grasp. You know, grabbing somebody by the lapels or grabbing them by the chin, to a variety of things that had to do with sleep and diet or stress positions.

GJELTEN: Critics of enhanced interrogation techniques say they're tantamount to torture, and they argue that intelligence gleaned from those interrogations is unreliable. They also point out that some of the most useful information that came from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others was obtained only after the harsh interrogations ended. General Hayden says he wouldn't be surprised by that.

HAYDEN: I'm willing to concede the point that no one gave us valuable or actionable intelligence while they were, for example, being waterboarded. The purpose of the enhanced interrogation techniques was to take someone who was refusing to cooperate with us and to accelerate the process by which we would move from a zone of defiance to a zone of cooperation.

GJELTEN: In an interview with NBC, current CIA Director Leon Panetta said harsh CIA interrogations were only one part of the intelligence-gathering process that led to bin Laden's courier.

LEON PANETTA: They used these enhanced-interrogation techniques against some of these detainees, but I'm also saying that, you know, the debate about whether we would've gotten the same information through other approaches, I think, is always going to be an open question.

GJELTEN: Tom Gjelten, NPR News, Washington.

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