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Former attorney general: McCain 'simply incorrect' on interrogations that led to key Bin Laden intelligence

May 12, 2011|By Ken Dilanian
(Mario Tama/Getty Images )

Former Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey is taking issue with Sen. John McCain's characterization of his account of whether information from detainees who were subjected to harsh techniques helped lead to Osama bin Laden.

"Sen. McCain described as 'false' my statement that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed broke under harsh interrogation that included waterboarding and disclosed a torrent of information that included the nickname of Osama bin Laden's courier" -- Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti -- Mukasey said in a statement. "He strongly implied ... that this harsh interrogation was not only useless but also illegal. He is simply incorrect on all three counts."

Mukasey added: "KSM disclosed the nickname -- Al-Kuwaiti -- along with a wealth of other information, some of which was used to stop terror plots then in progress. He did so after refusing to answer questions and, when asked if further plots were afoot, that his interrogators would eventually find out. Another detainee, captured in Iraq, disclosed that al-Kuwaiti was a trusted operative of KSM's successor, Abu Faraj al-Libbi. When Al-Libbi went so far as to deny even knowing the man, his importance became obvious.

"Both former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence Adm. Michael McConnell have acknowledged repeatedly that up to 2006, many of the valuable leads pursued by the intelligence community came from the three prisoners who were subjected to harsh techniques that included waterboarding in order to secure their cooperation.

"So far as the waterboarding technique used by CIA operators, as outlined in the memoranda released by the Department of Justice, it was entirely legal at the time, which is to say before the passage of later statutes in 2005 and 2006, by which time it was no longer in use and under which it has not been evaluated.

"In other words, the harsh interrogation techniques were both effective and lawful," the statement concludes.

In a speech earlier Thursday from the Senate floor, McCain said that the United States "did not learn Abu Ahmed's real name or alias as a result of waterboarding or any 'enhanced interrogation technique' used on a detainee in U.S. custody."

ken.dilanian@latimes.com

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