The New York Times reports:
After years of dead ends and promising leads gone cold, the big break came last August. A trusted courier of Osama bin Laden’s whom American spies had been hunting for years was finally located in a compound 35 miles north of the Pakistani capital, close to one of the hubs of American counterterrorism operations….
Detainees at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had given the courier’s pseudonym to American interrogators and said that the man was a protégé of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.
American intelligence officials said Sunday night that they finally learned the courier’s real name four years ago, but that it took another two years for them to learn the general region where he operated.
So Guantanamo detainees provided the key intelligence that allowed the CIA to track down bin Laden. But not just any Guantanamo detainees. It turns out the detainees in question were KSM and Abu Faraj al-Libi, the man who succeeded KSM as al Qaeda’s operational commander, when the 9/11 mastermind was captured in 2003. Following KSM’s capture, Abu Faraj was designated by bin Laden as his official messenger to his operatives in Pakistan, and even moved his family to Abbottabad—the city where bin Laden was killed—to carry out that role. He continued serving as bin Laden’s messenger until his arrest in 2005.
What else KSM and Abu Faraj have in common: Before coming to Gitmo, both were held by the CIA as part of the agency’s enhanced interrogation program, and provided the information that led to bin Laden’s death after undergoing interrogation by the CIA. In other words, the crowning achievement of Obama’s presidency came as a direct result of the CIA interrogation program he has denigrated and shut down.
Something the president forgot to mention last night, when he claimed credit for “the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.” The president owes some thanks—and apologies—to the men and women of the CIA’s interrogation program.