The majority of the credit for the operation that killed Osama bin Laden goes to the Obama administration. But it is also a vindication of the Bush administration’s terrorism policies and shows that success comes from continuing those policies, not rejecting them (as Obama has tried to do for the last two years). According to anonymous government sources quoted in the press today, it was the interrogation of al-Qaeda leaders that led to the identification of the courier, who led us to bin Laden’s hiding place. Reports suggest that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed himself may have given up the identity of the courier.
Imagine what would have happened if the Obama administration had been running things back in 2002–2008. It would have given Miranda
warnings and lawyers to KSM and other al-Qaeda leaders. There would have been no Gitmo, no military commissions — instead civilian trials on U.S. soil with all of the Bill of Rights benefits for terrorist defendants. There would have been no enhanced-interrogation program, no terrorist-surveillance program, and hence no intelligence mosaic that could have given us the information that produced this success. In the War on Terror, it is comparatively easy to pull the trigger — the truly hard task is to figure out where to aim. President Obama can take credit, rightfully, for the success today, but he owes it to the tough decisions taken by the Bush administration.
— John Yoo is a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush.