US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta . REUTERS/Olivia
Leon Panetta, who as CIA director oversaw the U.S.
operation that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, said the
job could have been done without resorting to controversial
interrogation methods that some have said constitute torture.
The outgoing defence secretary, in remarks aired on the NBC
programme "Meet the Press," said there had been many pieces
to the "puzzle" solved to find bin Laden, who was held
responsible for the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York
and the Pentagon.
"Yes, some of it came from some of the tactics that were used
at that time - interrogation tactics that were used," said
Panetta, who headed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
from 2009 until he became US defence secretary on July 1,
"I think we could have gotten Bin Laden without that,"
Panetta added in response to a question about what the
interviewer called enhanced interrogation or torture.
Panetta did not elaborate on how this might have been done,
but said most of the intelligence used to find bin Laden had
been stitched together without resort to enhanced
He was commenting on the 2012 film "Zero Dark Thirty," which
portrayed the hunt that led to the successful May 2, 2011,
raid on the al-Qaeda leader's hideout in Pakistan.
Some CIA veterans have defended the use of harsh techniques
such as sleep deprivation, hypothermia, stress positions,
slapping and waterboarding, in which a drowning sensation is
inflicted on a captive to obtain information, that helped get
Jose Rodriguez, who played a key role in setting up and
administering the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" programme,
recently traced an early break in the bin Laden hunt to a
detainee subjected to what Rodriguez called enhanced
interrogation short of waterboarding.
From this detainee came, in 2004, the first substantive
information about bin Laden's courier, according to
Rodriguez, author of "Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA
actions after 9/11 Saved American Lives."
"After obtaining this essential lead on the courier, years of
meticulous intelligence work followed," he wrote in a January
3 essay in the Washington Post.
Having covert prisons abroad known as black sites and
"compliant terrorists," the CIA was able to go back to
detainees to check leads, ask follow-up questions and clarify
information, said Rodriguez, head of the CIA's
Counterterrorism Service from 2002 to 2004 and then director
of the National Clandestine Service until late 2007.
"Without that capacity, we would have been lost," he wrote.