GOP Sen. Risch: Harsh Interrogations Produced ‘Initial Thread’ that Led to Bin Laden

By Cullen Dirner

May 4, 2011 1:00pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: The killing of Osama bin Laden has renewed the debate over the Bush-era “enhanced interrogation techniques” that were banned by President Obama, with voices inside the Republican Party – including many former Bush administration officials – arguing that critical intelligence came as a result of those special techniques.

On ABC’s “Top Line” today, Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, cited reports that suspected terrorists in US custody provided the “nom de guerre” of the bin Laden courier who ultimately led American officials to the compound to argue that “enhance interrogation techniques” – a classification of tactics that includes waterboarding – worked.

“The initial thread that they started to pull on came from enhanced interrogation,” Risch told us. “From that you can take it to a debate on where you go with that. But I don't think there's any doubt that it was enhanced interrogation that gave them the initial thread. It's been widely reported that that gave them the nickname, if you would, of an individual — the proof to be absolutely critical in bringing the whole house of cards down.”

Risch, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also said more details will emerge about the involvement of “every branch of the military” in the operation that killed bin Laden.

“It isn't surprising I guess but I'm awfully proud of the way that this was planned. I'm awfully proud of the way this was executed. The working together of the intelligence community and the military and obviously — it hasn't come out yet, but there'll be more of it coming out that — there wasn't just one military, one branch of the military involved in this.

“Every branch of the military was involved in this. Every branch of the military was involved in this. There'll be more of that coming out in days to come.”

Watch the full interview with Sen. Jim Risch HERE:

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