Yesterday, the 2012 National Defense Authorization Bill (NDAA) before the House of Representatives drew a series of veto threats from the White House. The document, intended to be the legislative blueprint for the defense of our nation, is filled with efforts to reverse Department of Defense policy and make sweeping, un-debated policy changes on issues from how the Pentagon selects weapons systems and implements the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to how law enforcement officials investigate and prosecute terror plots.
The manhunt for and killing of Osama bin Laden through years of investigation and preparation has refocused debate on America's counterterrorism and detention policies. Some - including former Vice President Dick Cheney - have called for the return of some of the most harmful practices of the Bush era. This occurs as Congress considers legislation that would ignore the advice of America's counterterrorism and national security experts. These policies are a symbol of our own fear, a fear that America is strong enough to overcome.
The story we know so far of Osama bin Laden's tracking and killing reflects success in intelligence reform, interagency coordination and old-fashioned intelligence-gathering. Well-informed sources from Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to former Guantanamo interrogators to the White House have insisted that information gleaned from "advanced interrogation techniques" - or torture - played little or no role, or was actually counter-productive by generating false leads. National security and military leaders have long argued that torture is not only an ineffective tool for extracting information, but it is also harmful overall to counterterrorism efforts. In fact, experts have made clear in recent days that the information that led to bin Laden's whereabouts was the result of years of hard work and deep investigation. As Graham said, "I do not believe this is a time to celebrate waterboarding, I believe this is a time to celebrate hard work."
In the aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden, there has been rampant speculation on the nature of the intelligence used to plan the raid. To help explain the methods used by the military and intelligence officials, please join the National Security Network and the Center for American Progress for a press call to examine these practices and policies and how they fit into the United States’ overall counterterrorism and foreign policy.