Torture Didn't Help Catch bin Laden, Report Finds

Senate Intelligence Committee: No evidence tortured detainees gave up crucial info

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 31, 2014 11:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – The report that has thrown the CIA into a bitter fight with the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that there is no evidence that torture helped the agency find Osama bin Laden, congressional aides and other sources tell the AP. The CIA has argued that "harsh interrogation techniques" like waterboarding provided vital information; Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, for example, confirmed that he knew al-Qaeda courier Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti after he'd been waterboarded. But he made the admission months after the waterboarding, the Senate report finds, while Mohammed was under standard interrogation.

Even then, the information he provided wasn't important and didn't include the courier's true name; the report concludes it served only to confirm what the CIA already knew. False information given by another tortured detainee related to the courier, which the CIA has argued was a tell-tale sign he was trying to protect al-Kuwati, turned out to be similarly unimportant, per the report. The AP notes that it took the CIA years to ascertain al-Kuwati's real name, Sheikh Abu Ahmed; it's still unclear how the agency did so. Writing for the Wire, Philip Bump observes that "it's impossible to overestimate the significance of the bin Laden capture in the defense of the CIA's interrogation programs ... which is no doubt part of the reason that the Senate staffers spoke with the AP."

This undated file photo shows al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
This undated file photo shows al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.   (AP Photo, File)
This March 27, 2014, file photo shows Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. speaking on Capitol Hill.
This March 27, 2014, file photo shows Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. speaking on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
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