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Most aggressive 'enhanced interrogation' 'proved useless'

NBC's Michael Isikoff's piece on msnbc.com on whether "enhanced interrogations techniques," a.k.a. torture, led to the finding of Osama bin Laden provides good context and details. Excerpts below.

VIDEO: Did enhanced interrogation find bin Laden?

Here are some excerpts:

The behind-the-scenes story of how bin Laden was finally located is yet to be fully told, but emerging details seem likely to reignite the debate over whether “enhanced interrogation” techniques and other aggressive methods that have been widely criticized by human rights groups provided useful – or timely -- intelligence about al-Qaida. While some current and former U.S. officials credited those interrogations Monday with producing the big break in the case, others countered that they failed to produce what turned out to be the most crucial piece of intelligence of all: the identity and whereabouts of the most important figure in bin Laden courier's network. ...

While Liz Cheney and other conservatives on Monday tried to portray the bin Laden raid as vindication of the intelligence community’s tough interrogations of “high-value” detainees, other details suggest that the most aggressive “enhanced interrogation” techniques -- including waterboarding, against other detainees, particularly 9/11 mastermind Khaled Sheikh Mohammed -- proved useless in learning the identity of the bin Laden courier. ...

“They waterboarded KSM (Khaled Sheikh Mohammed) 183 times and he still didn’t give the guy up,” said one former U.S. counterterrorism official who asked not to be identified. “Come on. And you want to tell me that enhanced interrogation techniques worked?" ...

In the end, U.S. officials say, it took years of patient intelligence work -- including information gleaned from multiple detainees and other sources of intelligence -- to enable the CIA to figure out who the courier was.

“Four years ago, we uncovered his identify,” said a senior U.S. official. Two years later, the U.S. officials were able to trace the courier and his brother to the area in Pakistan where they finally found bin Laden.