We know Republicans seem to have a deep-seated belief that only torture will keep us safe from the terrorists, even though the people who do real intelligence gathering can tell you that just wrong: It's ineffective and counterproductive -- not
May 3, 2011

We know Republicans seem to have a deep-seated belief that only torture will keep us safe from the terrorists, even though the people who do real intelligence gathering can tell you that just wrong: It's ineffective and counterproductive -- not to mention morally depraved. Not that any of this seems to deter conservatives.

So the spectacle of every right-winger on the planet rushing to claim that it was torture that provided the intelligence leading to the killing of Osama bin Laden was nothing if not predictable. And of course, it turned out to be wholly wrong.

For instance, here were Rudy Giuliani and Sean Hannity last night on Fox. Most of the segment was devoted to claiming that it was "aggressive interrogation techniques" that provided the key intelligence to finding Bin Laden, though at one point Hannity actually commended President Obama -- and then lied about him:

HANNITY: But we needed the intelligence to confirm that right. Does this now bring this debate back to the forefront? And by the way, and I give President Obama a lot of credit here. Because I thought it was a gutsy choice.


HANNITY: A gutsy choice, not to drop a 2,000-pound bomb but to send these guys in, so we can confirm that it's him.

GIULIANI: When you consider everything that could have gone wrong and how President Obama would look today if it did, it took a lot of courage to do that and I do admire that. And I think there's a good day the last two days for both President Obama and President Bush. Because I think President Bush set in motion all of the things that led to this. And then President Obama picked up on it and carried it out. And I give both of them a tremendous amount of credits.

HANNITY: And I do too. And this is a good day for this country and we'll going to talk to Todd Beamer's dad who's going to be on the program. And -- is going to be on the program tonight. And General Tommy Franks is on tonight. But as I look at this, would President Obama not now realize that without the intelligence, he wouldn't have had the ability to make this decision, I would hope that it might change his mind.

GIULIANI: Maybe it will. And the reality is he also at that very last minute when he's made the decision had to know that intelligence had to know, 50/50. I mean, you never know.

HANNITY: You'll never know.

GIULIANI: They were going in there to get Osama Bin Laden but who knows if it wasn't somebody that just looked like him or was like him. The better your intelligence, the more accurate your decision making and the safer we are. And the reality is, and I was glad to hear the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton say this. This is not the end, we are in the middle of this, and we can't let down our guard. We shouldn't be leaving Afghanistan as a result of this. We shouldn't be leaving Iraq, we should remain there to get the job done.

HANNITY: I agree but this is where I find myself a little conflicted here because this is almost the opposite of what candidate Obama said he would do. And maybe for the first time he's grown in office.

Oh, yeah, it was almost the opposite: -- if by "almost" you mean "the opposite of":


Now, you can argue that Hannity and Giuliani couldn't have known that they were 100 percent wrong in their speculation, since John Brennan didn't officially shoot it down until today.

But in fact, we already knew that waterboarding had nothing to do with this intelligence. It had already been reported by the Associated Press:

Mohammed did not discuss al-Kuwaiti while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He acknowledged knowing him many months later under standard interrogation, they said, leaving it once again up for debate as to whether the harsh technique was a valuable tool or an unnecessarily violent tactic.

It took years of work before the CIA identified the courier's real name: Sheikh Abu Ahmed, a Pakistani man born in Kuwait. When they did identify him, he was nowhere to be found.

Once again, smart, lawful intelligence gathering made the difference here. I gather that this is anathema to the conservative mindset, however. No wonder they're so incompetent.

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