Rumsfeld uncertain whether Bush policies helped find bin Laden

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Tuesday that he can’t conclude harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding helped find Osama bin Laden.

“I have no idea, you’d have to ask the experts,” Rumsfeld told The Hill when asked whether interrogation policies implemented by former President George W. Bush were instrumental in locating bin Laden.

But he said the Bush administration deserves praise for strengthening military special operations that killed the al Qaeda leader in a nighttime raid.

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“There’s no question that these things take time and the Bush presidency and his administration put in place some structures that put pressure on terrorists and the intelligence gets accumulated over time,” Rumsfeld said during an afternoon visit to Capitol Hill.

Rumsfeld rejoiced that intelligence officials finally tracked down the man responsible for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, describing it as a victory not just for the U.S. but the entire global community.

“It’s a good thing for the world,” he said.

Rumsfeld served as secretary of Defense under Bush in December of 2001 when American forces narrowly missed capturing bin Laden at the battle of Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan.

Rumsfeld, who served as secretary until 2006, noted he put emphasis on expanding the powers of special operations teams, such as the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, which carried out the covert mission.  

“We put a great deal of effort into strengthening the special operators, their equipment, their numbers and their authorities,” he said. 

Rumsfeld isn’t ready, however, to make any sweeping historical pronouncements about which president most deserves praise.

“But who knows about credit?” he said.