It is a common behavior of the right wing to take any real world events and try to twist them to support their warped beliefs. The classic example of this was the right wing using the 9/11 terrorist attack as justification for the Iraq war. Now they are trying to turn the news over the killing of Osama bin Laden into justification for torture. Torture is a technique developed to force false confessions–not to obtain accurate information. The information actually provided by water boarding was trivial, and not the reason that bin Laden was found. After all, if water boarding was the solution, why didn’t Bush find bin Laden a long time ago?
Defenders of the interrogation technique raised the issue, earning write-ups in several high-profile publications, including The New York Times and Time magazine. It was also put forward in most bin Laden-related news interviews with Obama officials. The problem, those officials stress, is that questioning the effectiveness of waterboarding in the bin Laden case oversimplifies a complex issue to which there may not be any concrete answers.
“There is no possible way to know for sure,” said one senior Obama administration official. “Even if waterboarding did produce something — and that is debatable, the timeline seems very unclear — it is impossible to say whether interrogation absent it would have produced the same thing. It might have. Lots of detainees provided [intelligence].”
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor was more directly dismissive. “I think this is a distraction from the broader picture, which is that this achievement was the result of years of painstaking work by our intelligence community that drew from multiple sources,” he said. “It’s impossible to know whether information obtained by EITs [enhanced interrogation techniques] could have been obtained by other forms of interrogation.”
By most accounts, harsh interrogation measures including waterboarding did not play a role in helping to track bin Laden’s whereabouts or his associates. According to the Times, in 2002 and 2003 “interrogators first heard about a Qaeda courier who used the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti” — the same courier who would ultimately lead the CIA to bin Laden’s location. But, the Times reported, “his name was just one tidbit in heaps of uncorroborated claims.”
The full post discusses the issue further. This has also been reviewed in detail at multiple other blogs, such as here , here, and here. The information was obtained by painstaking intelligence work. In the real world, unlike an episode of 24, there are no simple solutions.