Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, tells Newsmax that all of America’s intelligence services came together to mount a “flawless operation” that finally eliminated Osama bin Laden.
The Michigan Republican also says it took years to locate bin Laden because of his incredible operational security, states that the Pakistanis are not “100 percent reliable partners” in the war against terrorism, and asserts that it “makes no sense” to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Rogers was asked what the killing of Osama bin Laden means for America’s intelligence community.
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“It should tell America and our enemies that we will be persistent, we are committed to bringing those who slaughtered our civilians to justice, and we will be relentless in the pursuit of that justice,” says Rep. Rogers, who was first elected in 2000.
“Over the past 10 years there have been a lot of questions. Have [the intelligence services] integrated? Are they talking to each other? This was truly an operation where all our sources of intelligence, including our special forces command, came together to spend painstaking years and months in trying to follow these leads that we had to their final conclusion, and then [mounted] a flawless operation to bring them to justice.”
Bin Laden was located living in a guarded compound not far from Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, sparking speculation that the Pakistanis may have been hiding the terrorist mastermind.
“I don’t want to speculate on that,” Rogers tells Newsmax.
“I do know they have been good partners on counterterrorism efforts, and sometimes just not there on counterterrorism efforts. So the good news is that we believe they feel they were advised, and we sought their advice as well, to conduct this operation and other operations, and for that I say we’re grateful.
“We don’t think they are 100 percent reliable partners, but we would like them to get there and we are going to work toward that end.”
Asked why it took so long to find bin Laden, Rogers responds: “His operational security was second to none. They burned all their trash on their site. He never left the compound. No phones inside the compound. No Internet. It was all done through third-party couriers.
“And they had cutouts for cutouts for cutouts, meaning they had people delivering a message to somebody they didn’t know, who in turn delivered a message to somebody they didn’t know, in order to get to bin Laden.
“The operational security was incredible and allowed him to stay away from us as long as he did. But in every operation somebody makes a mistake, and that’s what happened here. And because of the great work, the dogged gumshoe good work of our CIA and others, they were able to put it together and we were able to find him in the compound.”
Responding to claims that the killing of bin Laden could make the United States more likely to be targeted by terrorists, Rogers says: “Anytime we can take out an inspirational leader like that, or an operational leader like that, and continue to assault their network, and that network is what finances them and trains them and plans operations for them, it makes it more difficult for them to do what they do.
“This is a good start. Some would say that this may help recruitment. But when you finally take away this person who was almost mythical because he was able to escape the long arm of the United States, it helps us.
“It maybe turns someone away from the recruitment station of al-Qaida, or it makes it more difficult for them to raise money, and it certainly makes it more difficult for them to continue to receive what they believe are inspirational jihad moments issued from Osama bin-Laden.”
Rogers believes the killing of bin Laden justifies the Guantanamo Bay detention center and the interrogation of suspects there.
“I believe that interrogation and human intelligence played a role in this, starting some years ago,” he says.
“Gitmo was a facility that was designed to house some pretty bad people, keep them safe and the soldiers who guarded them safe. I still believe that is exactly what we would have to duplicate someplace else if we built a facility that would have to keep them safe and our soldiers safe.
“So it makes no sense to me that we don’t continue to talk about keeping it as an option for us, and I think the president has changed his views on that.
“I would argue we have to take a good look at our ability to interrogate individuals around the world, in the full confines of the law, to get the information that we need to get the bad guys off the street.”
Rogers says American intelligence first got on the trail of bin Laden four years ago, and he was briefed about this operation when he came in as Intelligence Committee chairman in January.
“All the options were being weighed at the time. Was it really him? They were still verifying it. They were able to take a really good look at the compound, figure out what our options were as far as getting in and getting out, or maybe there was another option that they could have used.
“All of those things were going on, and we were kept in touch and talked about possibilities and mission sets and all of those things from early January.”
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