Standard interrogation

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.