Is George W. Bush the unsung hero in the killing of Osama Bin Laden?
After 9/11, the Bush administration was criticized for using “enhanced interrogation” techniques, which is arguably torture, but now many say those methods made Sunday’s mission possible.
"In part, definitely," said conservative blogger and political consultant Karol Markowicz. "I’m hesitant to say whether [those techniques] were legitimate or illegitimate with regard to bin Laden, because we don’t know if any of it led to his death. But I think they're necessary in the type of war we're in."
President Barack Obama's White House has carefully skirted the issue, saying no single piece of info garnered by one method —particularly the waterboarding of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed — led to Osama’s location.
But Larry Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, said using enhanced interrogation on prisoners gave emboldened the nation’s enemies.
"If anything, [these techniques] made bin Laden a bigger hero," he said. More broadly, "I think this will basically show that [Bush] got distracted with getting ourselves embroiled in Iraq, basically increasing the power of al-Qaida."
Still, the question of who gets what credit essentially boils down to partisan politics, said Hank Sheinkopf, a democratic political consultant.
"Those who complained about how the information was gathered during the Bush years want to ensure Bush gets limited credit," he said. "For the other side, they want to say Bush began to lead the battle."
Markowicz, however, added that part of Bush’s legacy will be the spreading of Democracy across the Middle East. The recent uprisings, she said, are direct results of Bush's policies in Iraq and a "faith in the Middle East that many other people didn't have, and maybe still don't."