Last week, the Democrat majority on the Senate Intelligence Committee released their long-awaited report on interrogating terrorists. Their conclusions spread over almost 6,500 pages of the executive summary and the complete classified report were stark.
Their conclusions were blunt and to the point. First, every action taken by the CIA with regards to prisoner interrogation was torture. And no actionable intelligence was garnered from the interrogations.
Almost immediately the Republicans responded. President Bush unapologetic saying:
“Whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off base. I knew the directors, I knew the deputy directors, I knew a lot of the operators — these are good people, really good people. And we’re lucky as a nation to have them.”
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who many on the left have characterized as the ‘Dark Lord’ was even more emphatic.On NBC’s Meet the Press Cheney said:
“It worked, it absolutely worked. I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective, and our objective is to get the guys who did 9/11.”
Cheney told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd:
“Torture to me, Chuck, is an American citizen on his cell phone making a last call to his four young daughters shortly before he burns to death in the upper levels of the Trade Center in New York City on 9/11.”
Cheney also called the report “full of crap,” and a “terrible piece of work” that was “deeply flawed.”
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden confirmed, “Enhanced interrogation contributed to the wealth of knowledge that we needed to [get to bin Laden].” Without such techniques, Obama would not have been able to walk to that microphone and say “we got him.”
Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., a 31-year veteran of the CIA, likewise noted that interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed resulted in more than 2,000 intelligence reports, including contributing information leading to Osama bin Laden.
And for the record, former CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden, along with deputy directors John McLaughlin, Albert Calland and Stephen Kappes, recount in The Wall Street Journal many of the CIA’s other numerous successes, as well as criticizing Senate Democrats’ profound errors in producing this one-sided, incomplete and out-of-context report.
The Democrats one-sided report did not include testimony from a single CIA witness because Attorney General Eric Holder refused to coordinate those interviews on the basis that the Justice Department had its own ongoing investigation.
However the DOJ investigation was completed in 2012 which gave the committee investigators two years to collect information from any CIA witnesses. They never did, perhaps because their narrative was already completed.
Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, questioned the timing of the report’s release:
“We have U.S. personnel, both intelligence officials and military special operators, in harm’s way. Why would we release [this report] now? What did we have to gain? All of this has been debated. All of this has been settled. … Clearly the administration knew it was going to cause trouble as they sent out warnings all across the world.”
Finally, Nancy Pelosi, Democrat House Minority leader, denied having been briefed on waterboarding in 2011. She has told a number of convoluted stories in the last several years. “We were not — I repeat — were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used.”
She later changed her story, telling reporters, “We were told explicitly that waterboarding was not being used.”
She claimed she learned about the use of waterboarding the following year, only after other lawmakers were told by the CIA. “I wasn’t briefed, I was informed that somebody else had been briefed about it,” she said.
“We were not — I repeat — were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used.”
In his new book, “Hard Measures,” Jose Rodriguez reveals that he led a CIA briefing of Pelosi, where the techniques being used in the interrogation of senior al-Qaeda facilitator Abu Zubaida (Zubaydah) were described in detail. Her claim that she was not told about waterboarding at that briefing, he writes, “is untrue.”
“We explained that as a result of the techniques, Abu Zubaydah was compliant and providing good intelligence. We made crystal clear that authorized techniques, including waterboarding, had by then been used on Zubaydah.” Rodriguez writes that he told Pelosi everything, adding, “We held back nothing.”
How did she respond when presented with this information? Rodriguez writes that neither Pelosi nor anyone else in the briefing objected to the techniques being used. Indeed, he notes, when one member of his team described another technique that had been considered but not authorized or used, “Pelosi piped up immediately and said that in her view, use of that technique (which I will not describe) would have been ‘wrong.’ ”
She raised no such concern about waterboarding, he writes. “Since she felt free to label one considered-and-rejected technique as wrong,” Rodriguez adds, “we went away with the clear impression that she harbored no such feelings about the ten tactics [including waterboarding] that we told her were in use.”
To this day, Pelosi denies all knowledge of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.