Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe On the Appropriateness Of Releasing The Photos Of The bin Laden Raid Sunday Night
HH: I’m joined now by United States Senator James Inhofe of the great state of Oklahoma. Senator, it’s always a pleasure to have you on the Hugh Hewitt Show. Welcome.
JI: It’s always great to be with you, Hugh.
HH: Let’s get to the toughest issue. Should this photograph of bin Laden be released?
JI: Absolutely. You know, I think what people haven’t thought through is the excuse the White House is giving for not releasing it. And that is they think there’d be some kind of retaliation or retribution, which is absurd. We’re dealing with terrorists here, and I wish that I could share with you the more than 20 cases where they’ve tried, terrorists have tried to attack America since 9/11, and we’ve been able to successfully stop them. So if they had a way of killing everyone who’s listening to us right now, Hugh, they would do it. So it’s not going to make any difference whether we show. And I think the White House would say well, we don’t want to make them mad. Well, anyway… Yeah, we need to see it.
HH: The President said on 60 Minutes in a taping that’s been released, it’s like spiking a football. We don’t need to do a victory lap or something like that, and I think that fundamentally misunderstands the importance of this photograph in the world, doesn’t it, Senator?
JI: Well, it does, because there are a lot of people out there. And I’ve talked to some people in my state of Oklahoma who want my assurance that I’m certain that he’s dead, and I am. And yet they want to see for themselves. And I don’t understand why there’s…in fact, there wasn’t any reluctant…I went through a long briefing this morning. It was a confidential briefing and it’s secure, and I can’t talk about specifics. But nothing ever came up of this idea that somehow we may not release the pictures. I said at least you ought to release them to members, and maybe the Intelligence Committee or the Armed Services, so that there aren’t any members around who would question it. But the idea of retaliation or spiking the football is absurd.
HH: Now there’s a report on the web at this hour that Reuters has purchased and published leaked photographs of terrorists killed at the compound, or people killed at the compound. And they are pretty gruesome, they’re pretty graphic. But it’s nothing I haven’t seen before, Senator. I don’t understand what could be possibly graphic, even if his head is gone, what could be…
JI: Well, no, in this case, it’s not. Remember, we’ve seen them where the head was gone, if you remember, that must have been quite a few years ago. This is a clean shot below the eye, and there’s no reason in the world, they use the word grotesque? Well, you know, he’s dead. There’s no question about that. So yeah, release the photos. It’s childish not to, and it doesn’t serve the best interests of the President.
HH: Senator, have you seen the photograph?
JI: I can’t answer that.
HH: Okay. Let me turn to the, your understanding of how the information was developed to assault Pakistan. What role did waterboarding play, if any? What role did Gitmo play? What role did the CIA black sites play?
JI: Okay, that’s fair. First of all, I’m coming from a little bit of a prejudiced perspective, because you and I have talked on your show before. I’m the lead guy who’s been demanding that Gitmo stay open.
JI: And for three years now, we’ve had this President saying we’re going to close Gitmo, we’re going to close Gitmo, and all of this. Then he also said we’re not going to allow enhanced interrogation by the CIA. I can tell you right now if it hadn’t been for Gitmo, and the efforts and the background for the last ten years that we’ve been able to develop in the human intelligence, along with the CIA interrogations, he wouldn’t be dead today. He’d still be wandering around someplace. So it’s ironic that the President, who did everything he could to stop us from using Gitmo, to close Gitmo, promising he was going to do it, and then turning around because we wouldn’t have been able to get this without Gitmo. Early on, the intel that came out, the human intelligence, came from interrogations that were taking place in Gitmo. Now one of the things that the people don’t realize, and you may not have talked about this yet, is that we haven’t really been able to use Gitmo to its fullest, because we haven’t been able to add any of the terrorists there. We have a lot of high value detainees that we have to put someplace where we can interrogate them. So what happens? If we get them in whatever country we get them in, we have to imprison them in that country. And you saw what happened not long ago in Afghanistan. They said they tunneled out. I think they could have just let them out. All these high value detainees that we put in are now out killing Americans again. So I would say we need to go ahead and open the doors again to allow us to use to its fullest capacity, Gitmo. Let me remind our listeners, they may not remember this, we’ve had Gitmo since 1904. And it’s one of the few good deals the government has. How many of your listeners know that we only pay $4,000 dollars a year for that entire asset that we use that’s so valuable? And we don’t have any good deals like that in government. So to answer your question, initially, the information came out from Gitmo, and we continued to interrogate. Keep in mind, it’s not just KSM that we have there. We have the other co-conspirators, three of them that are actually on trial right now in a military tribunal. So that’s taking place. We have already done, gotten some of the human intelligence from them. Now because of the fact that the President has issued an order not to allow any more of our high value detainees to go to Gitmo, we’ve been having to do it elsewhere.
JI: And that has been a handicap. That’s something that’s been a deterrent. So the information, though, a lot of it has come from after they closed the doors to Gitmo.
HH: Now Senator, Donald Rumsfeld has said repeatedly no waterboarding ever took place at Guantanamo Bay. But I’ve read in some of the accounts of the intelligence path that led to bin Laden that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, under the duress of enhanced interrogation techniques, which include waterboarding, produced some of the information necessary, but not sufficient to find the courier who took us there. Can you confirm that?
JI: I think I can confirm that, yes. Now in terms of specifically waterboarding, enhanced interrogation, Hugh, as you know, that’s a broad term.
JI: That could be anything. That could be sleep deprivation. That could be a number of things. It’s in the mind of the beholder. Now I think everyone would agree that enhanced interrogations would include waterboarding. There’s no question about that. I suspect that some waterboarding took place, but I’m not sure to whom. But when you are thinking about getting information that’s going to keep the terrorists from killing thousands of American people, we need to get the interrogation, and get it done. These people are not, we’ve got to get out of this mentality that we’re treating them as a criminal element in the United States, they should have Miranda rights and all of this. They should not. We have a great facility there that we need to use to its fullest, we need to open the doors, and continue to use it. And to answer your question, yeah…
HH: Last question, Senator, I’ve got a minute…
HH: I’ve got to ask you what you think of Pakistan. Do you think Pakistan knew he was there? And what should we do about aid for Pakistan?
JI: Okay, two questions. The first one, I’m absolutely certain they knew that he was there. It’s inconceivable he could have been there with three wives and thirteen kids for five years and they wouldn’t know it. In terms of what we should do, I really don’t want the politicians, and I’m talking about the House and the Senate members, grabbing headlines with what we should do with Pakistan. I really want the intelligence, as well as the military, to make those decisions. And keep in mind, now, it’s not just this isolated case of Osama bin Laden being hidden there within eyeshot of the capitol. It’s also the fact that we have India and Pakistan, and Afghanistan. We have people in that region developing not just nuclear warheads, but delivery systems. And so it’s far more important than just Osama bin Laden.
HH: Senator, great to talk with you.
End of interview.