The current liberal catechism espoused by Dianne Feinsgtein in her role as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee is that enhanced interrogation played no role in piecing together the trail to Osama Bin Laden. This belief led to a recent dust-up with the acting director of the CIA, Michael Morell, who was asked by committee members to document his assertion, in a letter to CIA employees, that intelligence gleaned from enhanced interrogation contributed to finding Bin Laden.
Now Leon Panetta has wandered off the reservation. Maybe! Different news outlets are characterizing his remarks differently.
Panetta: Enhanced interrogation did not lead to bin Laden
Go, Team Blue! But here is the NY Daily News:
Leon Panetta says ‘enhanced interrogation’ tactics played a role in death of Osama bin Laden
Ooops! Go, Team Red!
In fact, Panetta said pretty much the same thing as Michael Morell of the CIA. From the CBS account:
"First of all, it's a movie," Panetta said on NBC's "Meet the Press". "Let's remember that."
Saying he "lived the real story," Panetta added that "in order to put the puzzle of intelligence together that led us to bin Laden, there was a lot of intelligence. There were a lot of pieces out there that were part of that puzzle."
Panetta went on to say that there was at least some truth to the notion that enhanced interrogation was part of the hunt for bin Laden.
"Yes, some of it came from some of the tactics that were used at that time, interrogation tactics that were used," he admitted. "But the fact is we put together most of that intelligence without having to resort to that."
NBC's Chuck Todd followed up: "And you think you could have gotten it without any?" Panetta replied: "I think we could have gotten bin Laden without that."
So as a matter of speculation, Panetta agrees that maybe enhanced interrogation was not necessary, but he continues to claim it contributed to putting the trail together.
Per CBS, Panetta has said before that enhanced interrogation played a minor role. And even though a similar claim got Michael Morell in trouble, Sen. Feinstein's original expostulation did not rule out the possibilty that enhanced interrogation made a minor contribution to finding Bin Laden:
Statements made by Mr. Rodriguez and other former senior government officials about the role of the CIA interrogation program in locating Usama bin Laden (UBL) are inconsistent with CIA records. We are disappointed that Mr. Rodriguez and others, who left government positions prior to the UBL operation and are not privy to all of the intelligence that led to the raid, continue to insist that the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” used many years ago were a central component of our success. This view is misguided and misinformed.
The roots of the UBL operation stretch back nearly a decade and involve hundreds, perhaps thousands, of intelligence professionals who worked non-stop to connect and analyze many fragments of information, eventually leading the United States to Usama Bin Laden’s location in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The suggestion that the operation was carried out based on information gained through the harsh treatment of CIA detainees is not only inaccurate, it trivializes the work of individuals across multiple U.S. agencies that led to UBL and the eventual operation.
One might read that as refuting the notion that enhanced interrogation was "central" to our sucess, and that the raid was "based on" that intelligence.
Well, even if Ms. Feinstein was leaving the door open to a minor role for enhanced interrogation back in April of 2012, she is in full Enhanced Denial mode now. Let's see if Leon Panetta is called to atonement by the committee.