New York: US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has admitted that torture and enhanced interrogation techniques were used to "put together the puzzle" that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Panetta made the candid admission, becoming the highest-ranking Obama administration official to do so, while responding to a question on Kathyrn Bigelow's Oscar-nominated film 'Zero Dark Thirty', the New York Post reported.
The film depicts prisoners being water-boarded by the US in an effort to find out where Osama's is hiding. "The movie seems to say, to indicate that enhanced interrogation techniques or torture was used to get information to get bin Laden. Is that true?", Panetta, outgoing US Defence Secretary, was asked on a NBC show. "Yes, some of it came from some of the tactics that were used at that time, interrogation tactics that were used," Panetta responded.
"The real story was that in order to put the puzzle of intelligence together that led us to bin Laden, there were a lot of pieces out there that were a part of that puzzle," Panetta added. But the former CIA Director dismissed the tactics as playing a key role as the movie depicts in the location of bin Laden, who was shot and killed in May, 2011, by Navy SEALS while he was hiding in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Panetta becomes the highest-ranking Barack Obama administration official to make the candid admission.
"The fact is we put together most of that intelligence without having to resort to that," Panetta said. "I think we would've gotten bin Laden without that." Panetta's stance is different from that of Bush administration officials, who have called the "enhanced interrogation" methods that were used under them critical to the operation.
The CIA and the Pentagon cooperated heavily with the filmmakers of the movie and they were even offered a meeting with a Navy SEAL commando familiar with the raid. Meanwhile, Panetta has also said decisions to strike potential terrorist targets with unmanned drones don't "come lightly."
In an interview, Panetta has said those who authorise the drone strikes make sure they "are focused on somebody who is.. a direct threat to the United States." Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, if confirmed by the Senate, is set to replace Panetta as the Defence Secretary.