Former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sunday that White House staffers may be undermining intelligence efforts in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden by talking too much about what the American forces found in the terrorist leader’s Pakistan compound.
“The more information that goes out about intelligence, the greater the risks to our people and the less likelihood we’re going to be able to capture or kill,” he said.
Mr. Rumsfeld is one of several former officials in the George W. Bush administration and other key figues from 9/11 who are praising President Obama’s handling of the mission to kill bin Laden while questioning the White House’s actions since and its priorities going forward.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney told “Fox News Sunday” that “early leads” came out of the Bush administration’s enhanced interrogation program and that with President Obama’s restrictions on enhanced interrogation techniques, he’s afraid the United States will have a harder time cracking terrorist organizations.
“It’s not clear to me today that we still have an interrogation program that we put someone through if we capture them,” he said, pointing out that the U.S. military has used waterboarding to train its own troops, so there is no reason not to use this enhanced interrogation technique on the enemy.
“If it were my call, I’d have that program ready to go,” he said.
Intelligence experts say the interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, were instrumental in the takedown of bin Laden. Retired Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who served as CIA director under both Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “you can’t deny we got valuable information from these folks. The fact is, we did it this way, and this way worked.”
But White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon deflected questions about the role enhanced interrogation played in leading to the location of bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks a decade ago.
“I’m not going to comment on specific intelligence,” he said numerous times during appearances on “Fox News Sunday,” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” ABC’s “This Week” and CNN’s “State of the Union”
Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani indicated he was disappointed in Mr. Donilon’s “failure to answer” questions about enhanced interrogation techniques. He credited Mr. Bush with courage in pushing ahead with the interrogations despite political criticism. “No doubt all of the work he did brought it about.”
“I think you’ve got to give him a lot of credit,” Mr. Cheney said. “That was his responsibility, and he handled it well.”