One reason the story is unsatisfying to the right is obvious right away: If Hersh's version of how the U.S. learned about bin Laden's whereabouts were to prove true, it would end forever the discussion of whether torture had anything to do with bin Laden's death, and not in the right's favor. Hersh writes:
It began with a walk-in. In August 2010 a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer approached Jonathan Bank, then the CIA’s station chief at the US embassy in Islamabad. He offered to tell the CIA where to find bin Laden in return for the reward that Washington had offered in 2001. Walk-ins are assumed by the CIA to be unreliable, and the response from the agency’s headquarters was to fly in a polygraph team. The walk-in passed the test. ‘So now we’ve got a lead on bin Laden living in a compound in Abbottabad, but how do we really know who it is?’ was the CIA’s worry at the time, the retired senior US intelligence official told me.So, if Hersh is right, bin Laden wasn't located because we tracked his courier -- and if that's the case, this discussion is over:
After Osama bin Laden was killed by US special operations forces, the pro-torture CIA crowd pointed to the raid as evidence that human-rights-abusing questioning can produce essential intelligence. And this debate was revived when the film Zero Dark Thirty implied the same point. During these dust-ups, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chair of the Senate intelligence committee, said her committee's years-long investigation of the CIA interrogation program showed that the agency's use of harsh techniques did not lead it to bin Laden's hideaway in Pakistan. The torture report she released today -- that is, the 535-page executive summary of the 6,600-page full report -- states bluntly that CIA torturing had nothing to do with finding bin Laden. A footnote reports that the CIA, naturally, takes issues with this and says the committee report "incorrectly characterizes the intelligence we had." That footnote adds, "This is incorrect."That's from a Mother Jones story on the report released by the Senate in December 2014. CIA director John Brennan subsequently insisted that the report was wrong:
"It is our considered view that the detainees who were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques provided information that was useful and was used in the ultimate operation to go against Bin Laden," Brennan said.The right loves torture. The next Republican president will openly and unabashedly torture. So if this is true, it's buzzkill.