The possibility that U.S. spies located Osama bin Laden with help from detainees who'd been subjected to "enhanced interrogation" techniques seems certain to reopen the debate over practices that many have equated with torture, security experts said on Monday.
One of the key sources for initial information about an al Qaeda "courier" who led U.S. authorities to bin Laden's Pakistani hide-out was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a man US accused of masterminding the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, a former U.S. national security official said.
KSM, as he was known to U.S. officials, was subjected to "waterboarding" 183 times, the U.S. government has acknowledged.
But it was not until later, after waterboarding was suspended because it and other harsh techniques became heatedly debated, that Mohammed told interrogators about the existence of a courier particularly close to bin Laden, a fragmentary tip that ended in bin Laden's death at the hands of U.S. special forces on Sunday.
And at the time the information surfaced, the CIA had already abandoned some of its most controversial interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, in which water is poured over the face of an interrogation subject to simulate drowning, current and former U.S. officials told Reuters.
But the possibility that detainees who at some point were subjected to physical coercion later gave up information leading to bin Laden's discovery is sparking discussion among intelligence experts as to whether he could have been found without them.
"Info in 2004"
"It will reignite a debate that hasn't gone away about the morality and ethicacy of certain techniques," said Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations.
"Waterboarding" and other physically-coercive interrogation techniques used on detained militants, including depriving them of sleep, making them pose in uncomfortable positions, and slamming them into walls, were authorized by President George W. Bush in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
The tactics were used on detainees kidnapped by the CIA at secret prisons outside the United States.
In 2004, the CIA suspended these techniques. Subsequent revelations about agency practices led to charges the United States had engaged in torture.
But former U.S. officials told Reuters of a sequence of events that raises questions about whether the enhanced interrogation means played a significant role in bin Laden's capture.
A former U.S. counter-terrorism official who was briefed on detainee information about bin Laden and his entourage said, for instance, the CIA stopped using harsh interrogation methods on KSM after 2003.
But the first key intelligence reports identifying the al Qaeda courier reached U.S. counter-terrorism officials in 2004, according to a former U.S. national security official with direct personal knowledge.
The official said that for three years after the CIA stopped subjecting him to coercive measures, KSM continued to talk extensively. It was during this period, the official said, that he believes KSM gave up information about the courier.
A second former U.S. official said that while he did not remember which detainee gave up the key tip about the courier, he confirmed that the information came in in 2004, after the CIA had abandoned waterboarding but before it had completely stopped the use of physically stressful techniques.
This official, and two other current intelligence officials, said that in their view the main objective of the enhanced interrogation techniques was to break down resistance of detainees.
"You didn't use the techniques if they started talking," one of the officials said.
Obama Administration officials confirmed the sequence of events -- U.S. intelligence did not learn the identity of the courier until after the CIA interrogation program was terminated.
Administration officials also said it was not until August 2010 that U.S. authorities learned the location of the fortified mansion in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where U.S. special forces troops killed bin Laden during a commando raid on Sunday.
Moscow, which denies its troops have a role in the takeover of Crimea, says people there - a small majority of whom are ethnic Russians - should have the right to secede
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to London to meet with his Russian, as Putin and French President Francois Hollande discussed "possibilities for stepping up international support" for a solution
"Syria is now the biggest humanitarian and peace and security crisis facing the world, with violence reaching unthinkable levels," Ban's press office said
In an interview with the France 24 news channel, Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki accused Saudi and Qatar of sponsoring terrorism in his country.
The building is reported to have had gas smells emanating from it for weeks.
His address to the Knesset was staunchly pro-Israeli, and he delighted his hosts by claiming Jewish ancestral roots and talking tough on Iran
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has said Russia is to build two new nuclear power plants in the country.
The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels have been involved in nearly two decades of conflict that spilled into eastern Congo
Egyptian authorities have tightened their control over the border with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip since last July's ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by the Egyptian army.
Edward Dolinsky, head of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, made a lobbying trip to Jerusalem but not received by officials from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.
"Jordan did not bow to these demands because the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) itself has not adopted a unified position on the need to isolate Qatar over its foreign policies," the lawmaker said on condition of anonymity.
Mustafa Jemilev became the first Crimean Tatar leader to meet with a Russian leader in 200 years. The meeting lasted half an hour, after which Jemilev revealed that the two sides had agreed to continue talks.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said "With Chancellor Merkel we both believe that signing of the association agreement with Ukraine as soon as possible would be beneficial"
Belarus would ask Russia to send "no more than 12 to 15 planes", indicating that the request had been made under a clause of a "union treaty"
Police stopped protesters from the RCD and MSP who were showing red signs with the word 'Boycott', saying their demonstration was illegal
The one-day meeting appeared to mirror a series of "Friends of Syria" conferences in which Western and Arab nations pledged political and financial support for the rebels