The initial threads of intelligence began surfacing in 2003 and came in the form of information about a trusted bin Laden courier, a senior U.S. official told Fox News on condition of anonymity. Bin Laden had cut off all traditional lines of communication with his network by this time because the Al Qaeda leader knew the U.S. intelligence community was monitoring him. It was said that he also didn’t even trust his most loyal men to know his whereabouts and instead communicated only through couriers.

But it was four years later, in 2007, that terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay military prison started giving up information about the key courier.

Around this time, the use of enhanced interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning, were being denounced as torture by critics of the Bush administration. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney came under intense pressure for supporting rough treatment of prisoners. Critics claimed that any information given under duress simply couldn’t be trusted.

It is an argument that Bush and Cheney strongly rejected then, and now.

I would assume that the enhanced interrogation program that we put in place produced some of the results that led to bin Laden’s ultimate capture,” Cheney told Fox News on Monday, a hint of vindication in his voice.

Information was given up by prisoners, including 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. U.S. officials described the courier as a talented protege and trusted associate of both Mohammed and Al Qaeda’s No. 3 leader at the time, Abu Faraj al Libi. Both men were held at Guantanamo Bay.

U.S. officials were told the courier’s name was known only to bin Laden’s innermost circle.

By 2009, the U.S. intelligence community had a rough idea of where the courier operated: a region north of Islamabad, Pakistan. It was another year before this compound was identified in August 2010 as a likely home for a senior Al Qaeda member.

The compound was eight times the size of other homes in the affluent neighborhood, and the impressive 18-foot-high walls with barbed wire drew scrutiny from intelligence analysts.

By early this year, information from multiple intelligence sources, including the now-shuttered harsh interrogation program, as well as CIA operatives and Special Operations Forces on the ground in Afghanistan and Pakistan, were building a clearer case that the compound might house bin Laden. Officials found out that there were three families living there. In addition, a significantly older man, who was shown deference by the group, was not required to work on the compound.

Critics of the Bush-era interrogation programs have suggested that the harsh interrogations were not essential to tracking bin Laden and that the information could have been obtained by more humane means. But for Cheney and other Bush administration alumni, Sunday’s raid stands as proof their system worked.

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