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SMARTER AMERICA

Killing of bin Laden marks historic progress

Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress on Tuesday that the killing of Osama bin Laden marks historic progress by the U.S. government in protecting the American people from terrorism.

Holder's comments to the House Judiciary Committee marked the first appearance before Congress by an Obama administration Cabinet official since the mission targeting bin Laden was carried out successfully.

The attorney general told the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee that the completion of the hunt for bin Laden was the result of an almost decade-long effort that spanned two administrations.

Under questioning by a committee member, Holder said he does not know whether information helpful to the search for Osama bin Laden was gained through harsh interrogation techniques of al-Qaida suspects.

The issue arose when Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., asked whether the bin Laden mission might have been illegal if it was aided by legally questionable interrogation techniques of prisoners at CIA sites around the globe.

Holder said that even if such interrogation techniques had been used, the lengthy period of time between the questioning and the attack on bin Laden's compound would have been "sufficiently long" that the legality of the raid would not be in question.

Intelligence gleaned from the CIA's so-called black sites a number of years ago helped in the hunt for bin Laden.