CIA Director Leon Panetta confirms that waterboarding led to Osama Bin Laden

CIA Director Leon Panetta confirms that waterboarding / enhanced interrogation techniques led to Osama Bin Laden, in this MSNBC interview by Brian Williams.


Brian Williams: I’d like to ask you about the sourcing on the intel that ultimately led to this successful attack. Can you confirm that it was as a result of waterboarding that we learned what we needed to learn to go after Bin Laden?

Leon Panetta: You know, Brian, in the intelligence business you work from a lot of sources of information, and that was true here. We had a multiple series of sources that provided information with regards to this situation. Clearly, some of it came from detainees and the interrogation of detainees, but we also had information from other sources as well. So it’s a little difficult to say it was due just to one source of information that we got.

Williams: Turned around the other way, are you denying that waterboarding was in part among the tactics used to extract the intelligence that led to this successful mission?

Panetta: No, I think some of the detainees clearly were — you know, they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of these detainees. But I’m also saying that the debate about whether we would have gotten the same information through other approaches I think is always going to be an open question.

Williams: So, final point, one final time: enhanced interrogation techniques, which has always been kind of a handy euphemism in these post-9/11 years, that includes waterboarding.

Panetta: That’s correct.

This is the waterboarding that Obama opposed. Obama opposed enhanced interrogations. Obama opposed military tribunals. Obama opposed CIA prisons. Obama opposed Guantanamo Bay. Obama opposed counter-terrorism. I would not be surprised if the decision to kill Bin Laden was made in order to keep Obama from reading him his rights, giving him a civilian trial, bowing to him, etc.

Notice that the left-wing New York Times is in denial about the facts.

And don’t forget how waterboarding prevented a similar 9/11-style attack on Los Angeles.


The Central Intelligence Agency told today that it stands by the assertion made in a May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo that the use of “enhanced techniques” of interrogation on al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) — including the use of waterboarding — caused KSM to reveal information that allowed the U.S. government to thwart a planned attack on Los Angeles.

Before he was waterboarded, when KSM was asked about planned attacks on the United States, he ominously told his CIA interrogators, “Soon, you will know.”

According to the previously classified May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo that was released by President Barack Obama last week, the thwarted attack — which KSM called the “Second Wave”– planned “ ‘to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into’ a building in Los Angeles.”

KSM was the mastermind of the first “hijacked-airliner” attacks on the United States, which struck the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Northern Virginia on Sept. 11, 2001.

After KSM was captured by the United States, he was not initially cooperative with CIA interrogators.  Nor was another top al Qaeda leader named Zubaydah.  KSM, Zubaydah, and a third terrorist named Nashiri were the only three persons ever subjected to waterboarding by the CIA.

I actually asked one person who thought waterboarding was “torture” who KSM was. She didn’t know! But this is like asking “who is buried in Grant’s tomb?” when it comes to intelligence matters. You can’t decide what to believe based on your feelings or the need to please others or to strike a pose with your peers to earn their approval. You have to have access to the facts, or you get taken in by conspiracy theories and sloganeering. You have to understand WHY Americans will use an Apache helicopter to attack a force of infantry armed with RPGs when a convoy of Hummers comes into their line of fire. It does no good to try to participate in debates on national security and foreign policy without knowing the facts. Feelings of envy and hatred for the United States are not arguments.

Let me be very very clear. To oppose the waterboarding of a terrorist like KSM is to favor the deaths of thousands of innocent Americans, thousands of innocent civilians in wars, and millions or even billions of dollars of financial losses. That is the “moral superiority” of the left. They would rather protect a guilty terrorist from a little discomfort than save huge numbers of innocent lives and protect the assets of huge numbers of innocent people. And they expect you to hold them in high regard for protecting evil, and punishing good. Apparently, this is considered as being the height of morality on the secular left, as Evan Sayet has pointed out. Despite what leftists believe, it is morally good for American soldiers kill a terrorist who has harmed innocent people or who is plotting an attack that will kill innocent people.

Thank you, President George W. Bush, for having a clear moral vision, and for making the hard, unpopular decisions that kept us safe.

Thank you, Central Intelligence Agency, for doing hard, unpopular things in order to protect us from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

Thank you, United States Armed Forces, for taking on the thankless task of protecting the people of the United States.


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10 thoughts on “CIA Director Leon Panetta confirms that waterboarding led to Osama Bin Laden”

  1. Even Dick Cheney and Karl Rove have praised President Obama for the success of this operation. Are you so incapable of giving credit where credit is due? Or did you write an entire post praising President Obama and I missed it?


  2. Why does he deserve credit? All the techniques and policies used to eliminate bin laden were PUT IN PLACE by BUSH.

    And, all of the techniques and policies used to eliminate bin laden were OPPOSED by OBAMA.

    Seems pretty easy to see who we should be thanking.


  3. Is waterboarding justifiable because it isn’t torture? Or is it justifiable because of the consequences of using it, despite it being torture?

    I can possibly sympathise with your arguments for the latter, but I can’t understand how you can claim waterboarding isn’t torture. ‘A little discomfort’ is not going to extract a confession from a trained terrorist.


    1. Except that waterboarding did work. It worked to prevent the Los Angeles attack, and it worked to find Osama Bin Laden.

      It’s not torture, otherwise we would not be using on our own pilots for SERE training. Anything that would diminish their mental and physical ability would not be permitted, since they must fly very delicate, complicated aircraft after their SERE training.


      1. Would you be happy for the US government to use whatever is torture by your own definition on terrorists to extract information?


    1. Oh and just quoting someone does not constitute evidence. That would be appeal to authority, on top of the genetic fallacy which you seemed to commit earlier, wk.
      John McCain, a neo-con on foreign policy, has said that so far we have seen no evidence that waterboarding led to these leads, and in fact many of those interrogated denied even knowing of this courier- when they clearly did.

      We’ll need to see stronger evidence than quotes for you to justify torture and even then you are using a utilitarian calculus to make your moral judgements which is a radically secular and unbiblical way of doing ethics.


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