The Best Defense

Torture did not lead us to bin Laden

Sen. John McCain knocks down the idea that torture -- specifically waterboarding -- was essential in getting bin Laden:

Former attorney general Michael Mukasey recently claimed that "the intelligence that led to bin Laden … began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. He loosed a torrent of information -- including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden." That is false.

I asked CIA Director Leon Panetta for the facts, and he told me the following: The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. The first mention of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti -- the nickname of the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately led us to bin Laden -- as well as a description of him as an important member of al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country, who we believe was not tortured. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed's real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al-Qaeda.

In fact, the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on Khalid Sheik Mohammed produced false and misleading information. He specifically told his interrogators that Abu Ahmed had moved to Peshawar, got married and ceased his role as an al-Qaeda facilitator -- none of which was true. According to the staff of the Senate intelligence committee, the best intelligence gained from a CIA detainee -- information describing Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti's real role in al-Qaeda and his true relationship to bin Laden -- was obtained through standard, noncoercive means.

The Best Defense

It's make or break time for Pakistan

The remains of the mainstream media earns its keep today with a good piece by Fareed Zakaria arguing that this is the moment for Pakistan to straighten up and fly right. I don't think it is going to happen, but if it did, he lays out how it would.

McClatchy has a story in which an American official goes all Rodney King on the situation. "At the end of the day, a relationship with Pakistan is critical.… Wherever this goes, we have to find some way to get along with the Pakistanis." State Department officials saying "end of the day" is like baseball writers using "iconic." It means they are not really thinking.

Interesting to see the Indian PM in Kabul for the first time in six years. Are we seeing the future taking shape?

And I loved the comments on this item, especially the pseudo-spam. (HT to Starbuck)