The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., talked about lessons learned after the capture of Usama bin Laden saying that now is not the time to "retreat," but actually step up our efforts on the war on terror.
Rogers, who is a six-term congressman and also former FBI agent said that bin Laden's death should not be an end point, but a time to act. He was one of the few lawmakers briefed ahead of time on the raid and says he saw credible picture of bin Laden dead at the CIA last week.
"Al Qaeda is alive and well, they are hurt, they're damaged, their inspirational and operational leader has been taken off the battlefield, which is a huge opportunity for us -- the confusion with them is opportunity for us, this is the time to step on the gas and break their back. "
The chairman said that every thread of information was built on one another in the last 10 years and that the U.S. needed to learn from what happened in the 1990s. Rogers noted things like the 1993 bombing on the World Trade Center, the USS Cole bombing and said that what we were doing then clearly didn't work. "All of those successes led them to be more bold," he said.
He added there was no Guantanamo, no interrogations during that time and we didn't understand the threat.
Rogers advocated for keeping a place like Gitmo open because you need a safe place to hold terrorists. His comments came as a group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill renewed a fight to keep the detention facility open, even though the White House has pledged to close it, but hasn't been able to do so.
The congressman said he thinks the U.S. does need an interrogation program. "I don't think you have to use torture to get information," Rogers said.
"But all of those interrogations netted information that helped us get smarter, smarter about who they were and how they operated. and everybody you talk to that gives you an opportunity to solve that next big problem for our effort to break the back of al Qaeda," he said.
But he thinks actions to prosecute CIA officers who engaged in them, which he calls were lawful, and celebrate it led to bin Laden's killing is confusing.
"We have to shake ourselves out of this notion about political cycles when we talk about information. This has been a decade's long problem and we have seen how it worked in the old system, and we have seen how it worked under this system, and under this system, Usama bin Laden is dead. "
On what the Pakistani government knew and when, he said gave this assessment:
"[F]rom all the information I've seen, we can't conclusively say that somebody senior knew and promoted safe haven, clearly there may have been elements that have -- that knew and looked the other way. But we can't say institutions yet."
Rogers hopes the relationship will get a new start, saying it's a "good opportunity for Pakistan to say listen this was embarrassing let's move forward, there's a lot we can do together."