The Navy SEAL’s successful mission, authorized by President Obama, to get Osama bin Laden sent the right-wing into a tizzy over giving credit where due. While many Republicans praised Obama’s leadership, others contorted bin Laden’s death into praise and justification of the Bush administration methods, most notably waterboarding. After learning that information regarding bin Laden’s courier came from detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Bush torture apologists immediately insisted that waterboarding was a key technique in securing the vital information. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) quipped, “Wonder what President Obama thinks of water boarding now?”
On Fox’s O’Reilly Factor yesterday, House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R-NY) jumped on the waterboarding bandwagon. When host Bill O’Reilly asked for him to “tell us something new,” King immediately that the courier information was obtained through waterboarding, adding that those “who say it should be stopped and never used again, we got vital information which directly led us to bin Laden”:
KING: Well I don’t know if everyone knows this or not, but you mentioned the fact that we obtained information several years ago, vital information about the courier for Obama [sic]. We obtained that information through waterboarding. So for those who say that waterboarding doesn’t work, who say it should be stopped and never used again, we got vital information which directly led us to bin Laden.
O’REILLY: Wow! Let me stop you there. I did not know that and I’m sure most of my audience didn’t know that. Explain how that went down. How did we get that information, where did it come from, was it from Guantanamo Bay?
KING: It came from an overseas prison where Khaled Sheik Mohammed was being interrogated. Waterboarding was used, and it was during the interrogation of Khaled Sheik Mohammed, through waterboarding, that this information was learned.
O’REILLY: KSM gave it up? Mohammed himself gave it up?
KING: KSM gave us the first lead.
“That is absolutely fascinating,” O’Reilly later responded. “You’re not going to hear that on other networks.” There’s a good reason. According to former Bush officials, Mohammed, in fact, “did not reveal the names while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding.” He identified the names months later under “standard interrogation, they said.” The C.I.A actually obtained the courier’s name by placing “more agents in the field” in 2005 and “intercepting telephone calls and e-mail messages between the [courier's] family and anyone inside Pakistan. From there they got his full name.”
Bush’s Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also threw cold water on the GOP’s waterboarding logic, flatly stating yesterday that “it was not harsh treatment and it was not waterboarding” that secured the information. Former Rep. Pete Hoektsra, the ranking member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence during the Bush administration and a fan of waterboarding, even said that “I am skeptical that [waterboarding] was the ‘the critical info’ to our weekend success,” noting that it “ended years ago.”
This morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan confirmed that the information acquired over nine years did not come from waterboarding but was pieced together from multiple sources.
Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer informed King this morning of Rumsfeld’s insistence that waterboarding was not used. King dismissed Rumsfeld, stating “it’s no reflection of Donald Rumsfeld who I have a great respect for, but I’m telling you that people who are on the ground, people who are in a position to know, they told me that.”