Greg Sargent has obtained a letter sent from CIA Director Leon Panetta to Sen. John McCain, reiterating that the path to bin Laden did not begin with the torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Here are the operative three paragraphs from the letter, which represents a response from Panetta to McCain’s earler request for information about torture and Bin Laden’s death:
Nearly 10 years of intensive intelligence work led the CIA to conclude that Bin Ladin was likely hiding at the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. there was no one “essential and indispensible” key piece of information that led us to this conclusion. Rather, the intelligence picture was developed via painstaking collection and analysis. Multiple streams of intelligence — including from detainees, but also from multiple other sources — led CIA analysts to conclude that Bin Ladin was at this compound.
Some of the detainees who provided useful information about the facilitator/courier’s role had been subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques. Whether those techniques were the “only timely and effective way” to obtain such information is a matter of debate and cannot be established definitively
. What is definitive is that that information was only a part of multiple streams of intelligence that led us to Bin Ladin.
Let me further point out that we first learned about the facilitator/courier’s nom de guerre from a detainee not in CIA custody in 2002. It is also important to note that some detainees who were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques attempted to provide false or misleading information about the facilitator/courier.
These attempts to falsify the facilitator/courier’s role were alerting.
In the end, no detainee in CIA custody revealed the facilitator/courier’s full true name or specific whereabouts. This information was discovered through other intelligence means.
Emphasis mine. Panetta’s account contradicts Mukasey’s claim that the trail to Bin Laden “began” with disclosures from Khalid Sheikh Muhammed that were achieved through the “pressure" of torture.
Panetta’s account also represents public, on-the-record confirmation from the CIA of — and adds new detail to — a careful and thorough investigation by Scott Shane and Charlie Savage of the New York Times, which was based on anonymous sources and concluded that torture “played a small role at most in identifying Bin Laden’s trusted courier and exposing his hide-out.” Shane and Savage also quoted unnamed sources claiming torture resulted in bad information — also confirmed in Panetta’s letter