Opinion Brief

The bin Laden killing: Proof that waterboarding works?

Some on the Right say the harsh interrogation technique was integral to nailing Public Enemy No. 1. Others aren't so sure

"Wonder what President Obama thinks of waterboarding now?" Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) sarcastically tweeted Monday following the president's triumphant announcement that Osama bin Laden was dead. King is one of a number of conservatives claiming that the controversial Bush-era interrogation procedure provided vital early information used to track down bin Laden. The practice of forcing confessions through simulated drowning was banned in 2009 — but does bin Laden's killing justify waterboarding?

Yes, waterboarding helped us get bin Laden: This interrogation tactic was integral to extracting information years ago from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi that helped us find and kill bin Laden, says John Hinderaker at Power Line. Waterboading is best thought of as a "humane alternative to torture," and it's a shame that the practice can no longer be used. "In the future we may capture a terrorist who has information that we have an imminent need to extract.""Where the trail to bin Laden began"

Waterboarding does a lot of harm, too: "The defense of waterboarding comes down to cherry-picking the good, easy-to-see results (capturing top officials)," says Joe Weisenthal at Business Insider. We can't ignore the negative, unseen consequences of it though — namely, "all the ex-Gitmo detainees who come back as more hardened terrorists.""Did waterboarding just get vindicated?"

Nothing good ever came of waterboarding: By my calculations, waterboarding didn't lead to the capture of bin Laden, but it did lead to the "Iraq debacle," "a hell of a lot more anti-American terrorists," and the "well-deserved debasement of our international standing," says Joan McCarter at Daily Kos. Self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in 2003, but intel agents didn't get information that led to bin Laden until 2005 and 2006. And don't forget, after being tortured, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi falsely claimed that Iraq was providing chemical and biological weapon training to al Qaeda. Bush officials used his testimony to justify going to war in Iraq...and we all know how that turned out."Republicans say torture led U.S. to bin Laden. Facts say otherwise."

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