The recently released Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) Majority report on the CIA's Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program is marred by errors of facts and interpretation and betrays intelligence officials and will erode their trust in future presidential administrations.
Just before my first conversation with Jose Rodriguez
, who headed the agency's counterterrorism section and its clandestine service, the former CIA leader stated that the Senate report "throws the CIA under this bus
." The warning came when he predicted that intelligence officials would be undercut by "second-guessing" from the White House and Congress and warned that allied nations that have cooperated with U.S. intelligence in the past might reassess their aid.
This report represents the single worst example of Congressional oversight in our many years of government service.
Astonishingly, the SSCI Majority staff interviewed no CIA officers responsible for establishing, implementing, or evaluating the program?s effectiveness. Let us repeat, no one at the CIA was interviewed.
Worse, the Committee selectively used documents to try to substantiate a point of view where ample and contrary evidence existed. Over 5 years and at a cost of $40 million, the staff "cherry picked" through 6 million pages of documents to produce an answer they knew the Majority wanted. In the intelligence profession, that is called politicization.
Rodriguez, who authored a memoir of his CIA years, said the use of enhanced interrogations under his purview was "one of the most thoroughly reviewed covert action programs in the history of the agency." He raised concerns that "leaders at the agency are going to wonder whether the authorities that they receive from the president will last longer than one election phase."
Rodriguez was among several former senior CIA and Bush administration officials who appeared on Sunday's news shows and tried to cast doubt on the 525-page Senate report, which riveted the American public last week with accounts of brutal interrogations of terror detainees that ranged from simulated drowning to improvised enemas. Vice President Dick Cheney, long known for his blunt dismissal of critics of the harsh tactics, tossed off the report as "a crock."
Sen. John McCain
John Sidney McCain III, born August 29, 1936, is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican presidential nominee in the 2008 United States presidential election. McCain followed his father and grandfather, both four-star admirals, into the United States Navy. He was also a Vietnamese POW for six years. | Photo: Archives |
, R-Ariz., one of several congressional leaders who defended the Democrat's document, said the detailed accounts justified the report's public release. "What we need to do is come clean, move forward and vow not to do it again,
" McCain said, adding: "We're not a perfect nation, but we acknowledge our mistakes.
" A Navypilot during the Vietnam War, McCain was shot down over North Vietnam, held as a prisoner of war in Hanoi and tortured before his captors released him six years later.
The report spans the creation and four-year history of the CIA's coercive interrogations and secret overseas prisons. Its release last week spawned media attention, international outrage and a carefully coordinated rebuttal that included an official CIA response and critiques from former senior agency officials. Among the critics is Rodriguez, a tough-talking agency veteran who micromanaged the interrogation program and ordered the destruction of videotapes of some waterboarding sessions, according to the Senate report.
The CIA veteran also revived previous claims that Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other top Democratic legislators were thoroughly briefed and approved the program that President Barack Obama now calls torture.
"We came to know very gradually about it," countered Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., who served on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
As stated by CIAsavedlives.com
, a website created by a group of former CIA officials with hundreds of years of combined service who all have first-hand knowledge that the CIA's interrogation program was authorized, legal and effective;
"The report defies credulity by saying that the interrogation program did not produce any intelligence value. In fact, the program led to the capture of senior al Qaida leaders, including helping to find Usama bin Ladin, and resulted in operations that led to the disruption of terrorist plots that saved thousands of American and allied lives.
Finally, Congress was in the loop. The so-called "Gang of Eight? of top Congressional leaders were briefed in detail on the program. The briefings were detailed and drew reactions that ranged from approval to no objection to encouragement to be even more aggressive. Again, none of this context appears in the Majority's report.
The views of of CIAsavedlives.com
are shared by the current CIA and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Republican Minority, both of which have released rebuttals to the Majority's report. Both critiques are clear-eyed, fact-based assessments which challenge the Majority's contention in a nonpartisan way. We urge all Americans to read them carefully before reaching any judgments.
authors also have in common that during its 5+ year investigation, the SSCI did not bother to contact them and seek their views.
(Rodriguez and Whitehouse spoke on "Fox News Sunday," Cheney was on NBC's "Meet the Press" and McCain made his remarks on CBS' "Face the Nation." Stephen Braun
and Associated Press writer Michele Salcedo
contributed to this report.)