Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 3, 2011

STANDARD INTERROGATION.... So far, Republican attempts to spin the killing of Osama bin Laden in the GOP's favor haven't gone well.

Like so many memes that persist in politics, this one started on the Internet. The morning after President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan, conservatives started crowing that credit should be given to President George W. Bush -- specifically, for having the foresight and courage to torture the people who provided the initial scraps of intel that ultimately led the CIA to a giant compound just north of Islamabad.

The most prominent of these conservatives was Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who took to Twitter to ask sardonically, "Wonder what President Obama thinks of water boarding now?"

The idea made the rounds yesterday based on one important piece of the larger puzzle: several years ago, intelligence agencies obtained the pseudonym of OBL's favorite courier from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi.

Republicans and like-minded activists -- including Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, assorted Tea Partiers, and others -- jumped to a conclusion: U.S. officials gained the information via torture.

Except, that's not what happened.

Donald Rumsfeld, of all people, threw cold water on the new talking point yesterday, noting that Bush-era torture policies weren't responsible for obtaining the information.

The Associated Press further set the record straight, reporting, "Mohammed did not reveal the names while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He identified them many months later under standard interrogation."

Brian Beutler added, "Thus, a big chunk of the rationale for giving the Bush credit for bin Laden's death falls apart. It took officials until Obama's presidency to locate this courier, and well into Obama's second year in office before they found the compound. Only then was the raid itself designed and, on Sunday, implemented."

Joan McCarter has more on this, offering an even more detailed debunking of the argument.

Steve Benen 10:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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Comments

Bush deserves the credit for death of Bin Laden.

We don't need no stinking FACTS!

Posted by: Eeyore on May 3, 2011 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Man, the GOP really digs its torture. Just when you think it can't get any worse, they get even creepier.

Posted by: g. powell on May 3, 2011 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

OK, here's my last F*CK YOU to the SCOTUS, Ralph Nader, and the senior citizen imbeciles who didn't know how to read or who left a chad hanging.
F*CK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can you imagine how different this nation would have been today if Gore had righfully become President, and not that simpering imbecile, Little Boots Bush?

Posted by: c u n d gulag on May 3, 2011 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Donald Rumsfeld, of all people, threw cold water on the new talking point yesterday...

Har har.

Posted by: Grumpy on May 3, 2011 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

@ c u n d gulag,

I'll go one more than that: Can you imagine how different this PLANET would have been today if Gore had righfully become President, and not that simpering imbecile, Little Boots Bush?

Posted by: Mitch on May 3, 2011 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Ok - Let's pretend, just for fun, that the info was obtained via torture.

Bush was too busy prancing on aircraft carriers to act on it, apparently.

Obama seemed to find the time to pursue every lead.

You may now return to the real world.

Posted by: bignose on May 3, 2011 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Why are they pushing torture so hard? Its like they want to validate their craziness. Its one thing to argue not to be prosecuted for using torture its another things to say that torture works everytime and theres no problem with it. I mean damn they really want to be the face of anti immigration, pro tax cuts, govt invasion, and torture by all means

Posted by: allamr18 on May 3, 2011 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

I read where it was two Pakistani agents working for the CIA that recognized a Bib Laden courier and tailed him back to the compound.

Wonder if they will get the 25 million dollar reward for info leading to OBL

Posted by: Kill Bill on May 3, 2011 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder what President Obama thinks of my stupidity now ..........

Posted by: Rep Steve King on May 3, 2011 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Here's how the Dems should respond to this crap:

"Does the GOP pay any attention to the facts before they open their mouths????" Say it just like that, because their utter disregard of the truth should be a much bigger issue than it is.

Posted by: JD on May 3, 2011 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

So republicans are hanging their hat on a courier's alias/nom de guerre that apparently came from multiple sources almost 8 years ago. If it was such a vital piece of information, why couldn't they effectively utilize it?

Posted by: Holmes on May 3, 2011 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Why are they pushing torture so hard? -A18

Im going to say authoritarianism for 500$ Alex

Posted by: Kill Bill on May 3, 2011 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

And how will revealing this factoid change anything for the residents of Wingnuttia? They already know the TRUTH which is entirely unrelated to REALITY.


Posted by: bcinaz on May 3, 2011 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

"Yes. A Jedi's strength flows from the Force. But beware the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan's apprentice."

Posted by: Spiny Norman on May 3, 2011 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone has thrown cold water on the enhanced interrogations nonsense today, but we still have a resident winger clinging to the 'truth'.

Posted by: Holmes on May 3, 2011 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

So let me get this straight:

President Bush should not be blamed for wrecking the country in 8 years. But now he should get credit for the demise of OBL. This twisted logic could only make sense to members of the Republican Party. If I were them I would try to distract as much attention as I could from the damage done to the country by the Bush administration.

Posted by: Ladyhawke on May 3, 2011 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Standard operating procedure for Republicans - tag a class clown to put the Big Lie out there fast in order to bury the truth. When the facts appear - no matter how quickly -- too late now for truth - the GOP sheeple have yet again been willfully fleeced.

Posted by: June on May 3, 2011 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

@June, the right wing is very predictable, but they couldn't get away with it without the media swallowing their bullshit unquestioningly.

Posted by: Holmes on May 3, 2011 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

The most prominent of these conservatives was Rep. Steve King (R-IA)

That Steve King is the most prominent person they can put forward really tells you all you need to know.

Posted by: martin on May 3, 2011 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Let's remember a little history before giving Bush any credit - A month before the 9/11 attack, George W. Bush was directly informed by US Intelligence that Osama Bin Laden was actively attempting to attack the United States using airplanes.
He did NOTHING to prevent that attack.
He subsequently ordered the United States to attack Iraq, a country with ZERO ties to the 9/11 attack or Al Qaeda...we are still stuck in that mess. Bush was unable to locate Bin Laden for 9 years, probably botching the only chance at Tora Bora.

President Obama is the one who deserves the credit for capturing the criminal Bin Laden.

Posted by: T2 on May 3, 2011 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Hoo boy, wingnuts. You've lost Rumsfeld? Are you kidding me?

Posted by: beejeez on May 3, 2011 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

I see the stenographers over a Politico have dutifully relayed the former Bushies' whining about not getting enough credit from the President.

The chutzpa of those people is astonishing. Half of them are lucky not to be in jail, but they can't help themselves from whining about credit.

Posted by: Holmes on May 3, 2011 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

On CNN last night, I watched Anderson Cooper discussing the news about bin Laden with Ari Fleischer. Fleischer specifically credited "enhanced interrogation techniques" with the capture and killing of bin Laden. I prayed for Cooper to follow-up or express skepticism, but instead, he silently accepted Fleischer's assertion and moved on.

This is how the game works. For every time the truth is told on the airwaves, the lie is told 100 times while reporters stay silent -- leaving viewers misinformed.

Posted by: Chris on May 3, 2011 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

"The chutzpa of those people is astonishing."

Incredible actually. I had the chutzpa's for dinner last nite with a little cheese and salza. Que Bueno!

Posted by: Pedro on May 3, 2011 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

If the information used to kill Osama DID come from torture, that would STILL not make it less criminal or less immoral. Why do we care if using inhumane practices have utility? When we look at the Spanish Inquisition, do we ask, "But did they get all the heretics?"

Posted by: candideinnc on May 3, 2011 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Why are former Bushies even considered credible? It is so f'n annoying watching those incompetent buffoons on the television posing as national security experts; and the morons in the media buying it.

Posted by: Holmes on May 3, 2011 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

My favorite tidbit is that for years and years Pakistani government officials all repeatedly insisted that OBL was in Waziristan, meanwhile the locals in the neighborhood where the mansion is located routinely referred to the compound as “Waziristan”.

It’s like an SNL slit.


Posted by: Joe Friday on May 3, 2011 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

"meanwhile the locals in the neighborhood where the mansion is located routinely referred to the compound as “Waziristan”."

Dammit....I told W that we should have water boarded the locals.

Sheesh. Damn sissy boy.

Posted by: D. Cheney on May 3, 2011 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

"Thus, a big chunk of the rationale for giving the Bush credit for bin Laden's death falls apart. It took officials until Obama's presidency to locate this courier, and well into Obama's second year in office before they found the compound. Only then was the raid itself designed and, on Sunday, implemented."

I was expecting this waterboarding BS. One of the C-SPAN callers this morning called reports of bin Laden's death a huge hoax. The GOP idiot factory is running at full capacity.

Posted by: max on May 3, 2011 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

@Holmes - A-to-the-men!

Posted by: June on May 3, 2011 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

As many note, it is sad that few appreciate and acknowledge the matter of principle in all this and not just whether we got results. Read http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/05/02/bush-era-interrogations-provided-key-details-bin-ladens-location/
for how Faux is spinning this as "vindication" of Bush-Cheney torture era, just from offhand remark of Cheney:

President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney came under intense pressure for supporting rough treatment of prisoners. Critics claimed that any information given under duress simply couldn't be trusted. It is an argument that Bush and Cheney strongly rejected then, and now.
"I would assume that the enhanced interrogation program that we put in place produced some of the results that led to bin Laden's ultimate capture," Cheney told Fox News on Monday, a hint of vindication in his voice.

I wonder if they'll also try to vindicate his saying, "Reagan taught us deficits don't matter"? But Rummy, heh, got a bit of integrity there ...

Posted by: neil b on May 3, 2011 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

They can try all they want but this one is on Obama. Their spin will not stick with the general public.

If they HAD the information and didn't get him, then it is even WORSE for the Bushies.

No matter how it is spun they did not get the job done; Obama did.

It took Obama to catch Osama, as the tee shirt says.

Posted by: jjm on May 3, 2011 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

"conservatives started crowing that credit should be given to President George W. Bush" and then they credited Brett Favre for the Packer's recent Super Bowl victory, credited Barry Bonds for the Giants' World Series title and credited Henry VIII for the fabulous recent Royal Wedding !

Posted by: H-Bob on May 3, 2011 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Since we are doing some time travel, why don't we blame 9/11 on Obama (as well as Clinton), and give Bush credit for killing Bin Laden? And then we can claim that all of this ratifies torture and Guantanamo an unqualified successes and shows Obama's approach is an abject failure, and call it a day?

I am sure that the super-geniuses at Instapundit, Red State and the National Review can come up with some intellectual-sounding excuse for all of these contortions. They always do.

Posted by: Bokonon on May 3, 2011 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans and like-minded activists -- including Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, assorted Tea Partiers, and others -- jumped to a conclusion: U.S. officials gained the information via torture.

So even after the United States disgraces itself by engaging in torture (with the right wing eagerly cheering it on), let's just imagine for a moment that it produced reams of actionable intelligence and information.

The reaction: In March 2002, just six months after 9/11, Bush said of bin Laden, "I truly am not that concerned about him.... You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, to be honest with you."

And Steve King is, along with being an insult to humanity, an idiot.

Posted by: John on May 3, 2011 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

I have been trying to understand why the conservatives and fundamentalists as groups are so dead set that torture is the only way to get good information from their worst and presumably most evil enemies. My conclusion is that members of those groups suffer from a dogmatic mindset. They are so certain they are correct that they refuse to listen to facts or objections. Anyone who opposes what they "know" to be true must be evil and plotting to thwart them.

The only reason I can recognize for someone to torture someone else to get information (other than pure sadism) is because the victim of torture is not saying what the torturer wants to hear and that the torturer has a dogmatic mindset which refuses to accept they they, the torturers, might be somehow wrong. This is of course impossible because the dogmatic person is not wrong. There must be another, malicious or evil, intent to thwart the actions of the torturers.

"Knowing" that you are right and assuming the victim is saying otherwise simply to thwart the torturer for some presumed malicious purpose of their own (an evil person, in other words.) justifies extreme measures of all kinds to get the recalcitrant evil people to comply. Only facts can prevent such extremism and by definition a dogmatic person rejects contrary facts.

It all comes back to a dogmatic mindset which is very characteristic of fundamentalists (usually religious but includes many libertarians), members of the wealthy social classes who do not want to lose their wealth and conservatives, usually older) who do not want to see the old social order changed.

Posted by: Rick B on May 3, 2011 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

That same Bush Administration that handled the pre-9/11 CIA information with such care and expediency? That one?

Posted by: Skip on May 3, 2011 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK
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