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Rep. King: Waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Gave Up Bin Laden's Courier

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- In January 2009, President Barack Obama banned the use of waterboarding, but that controversial torture technique is now being credited with leading to the death of Osama bin Laden.

"Osama bin Laden would not have been captured and killed if it were not for the initial information we got from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after he was waterboarded," Long Island Rep. Peter King told CBS 2's Marcia Kramer.

It is a very controversial form of torture. Water is poured over the face of an immobilized captive, causing the individual to feel like he's drowning. However, Rep. King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said that very technique pried the name and identity of Osama bin Laden's courier out of Mohammed -- the mastermind of the 9/11 attack.

"The initial information we received on who the currier was, the person to lead us to bin Laden, came as the result of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed being waterboarded," Rep. King said. "He appeared on the radar screen as a result of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's statements after he was waterboarded."

Intelligence experts got more clues in the hunt for the courier -- a key member of bin Laden's inner circle who ultimately led authorities to the Abbotabad, Pakistan, compound where the al Qaeda leader lived  -- when Mohammed's assistant, Abu Faraj al-Libbi, was also captured and subjected to severe interrogation, King said.

After they killed bin Laden, American forces grabbed a whole lot of al Qaeda intelligence data from his compound, which law enforcement sources say can have huge local security implications.

Sources told Kramer they expect the information taken by Navy SEALs from bin Laden's compound will help the NYPD thwart future terror attacks right here.

"I was with CIA Director Leon Panetta, who told me that there was a large amount of information seized that is being analyzed vigorously by the CIA. We have to assume that if it talks about possible targets that New York will be on that list because we are the number one target," Rep. King said.

As for a revenge attack, the NYPD has beefed up surveillance and other intelligence operations that largely go on behind closed doors. Sources said they are especially mindful of the actions of terror leader Anwar al-Awlaki -- the man behind the Times Square bombing and a lot of other attacks.

"Awlaki, right now, is the number one, the number one terrorist leader in the world," Rep. King said.

In the wake of the bin Laden killing the NYPD has beefed up police patrols, but as Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday, a lot of what the NYPD does is what you don't see. They have 1,000 people assigned to anti-terror activities.

Bothered by the admitted use of waterboarding? Think it was a necessary evil in this case? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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