National Security

Senate Tortures the Facts

Dec. 10, 2014
9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

The United States under Barack Obama is the laughingstock of the world. Earlier this year, Obama traded top Taliban terrorists for an Army deserter. Now the administration and Senate Democrats have released a report spanking the CIA for waterboarding terrorists. All because, Obama says, these interrogation techniques are “contrary to who we are.”

Obama then had the gall to say, “One of the things that sets us apart from other countries is when we make mistakes, we admit them.” When has he ever admitted a mistake?

The report was written by Democrat staffers, whose “expert” findings include:

  • Enhanced interrogation techniques don’t work.

  • The CIA provided inaccurate information to the Bush administration about its interrogation program.

  • Management and oversight was negligent.

  • The program was more brutal than represented.

All horse manure. Brutal is when you saw off the head of a civilian noncombatant captive, as ISIL is fond of doing.

According to former POW Sen. John McCain, “I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence.”

First of all, waterboarding is nothing like what McCain endured at the hands of the North Vietnamese. And as several other highly decorated POWs have noted, waterboarding did work in some cases – and they approve. It did produce “good intelligence,” including, according to the CIA, intelligence that helped to disrupt plots, led to the capture of other terrorists, and led to Osama bin Laden’s courier, who ultimately led to bin Laden.

Former CIA Director Michael Haden 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 info leading to Osama.

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.

No CIA officials were interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee because Attorney General Eric Holder refused to coordinate those interviews on the basis that the Justice Department had its own ongoing investigation. (Apparently Rolling Stone followed the Senate Intelligence Committee model by refusing to interview the accused.) Note that the DOJ investigation produced no charges.

The DOJ investigators who reviewed the Senate investigation confirmed they found nothing that would warrant bringing criminal charges against CIA officers and operatives. And that investigation ended two years ago – which is to say Democrats could have called CIA witnesses.

Update: Given that officials were not interviewed before the report, they have now issued a fact-sheet rebuttal.

Now Obama administration officials have placed military and law-enforcement personnel on high alert, acknowledging the report may spawn terrorist attacks.

According to Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, “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.”

Joe Biden insisted it was just the kind of transparency for which this administration is decidedly not known: “We made a mistake. We made a big mistake. … [This report] is a badge of honor.”

On the other hand, George W. Bush’s vice president, Dick Cheney, described the report as “a crock.” Cheney said of intelligence officials, “They deserve a lot of praise. As far as I’m concerned, they ought to be decorated, not criticized.”

Obama’s current CIA director, John Brennan, agreed with Cheney. According to Brennan, the CIA interrogations “did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives.” That assessment directly challenges the core assertions in the Senate Democrats' report. Brennan threatened to resign over the report, but we believe he remained in place to defend the agency.

The White House insists that Obama has full confidence in Brennan as CIA director. But the problem is Brennan has little or no confidence in Obama as president and commander in chief – and he is not alone.

Outgoing Sen. Saxby Chambliss said, “The majority side of the intelligence committee has spent the last five years and over $40 million focused on a program that effectively ended over eight years ago, while the world around us burns.”

Chambliss concluded, “It seems as though the study takes every opportunity to unfairly portray the CIA in the worst light possible, presupposing improper motivations and the most detestable behavior at every turn.”

In fact, the CIA briefed Congress on its efforts roughly 30 times along the way. Senate Democrats were last briefed on the CIA’s methods in 2006 and the last interrogations were in 2007. Democrats could have stopped the interrogations then. Notably, Nancy Pelosi was fully briefed on the CIA operation in 2002, despite claiming later she had no knowledge of it (these memory lapses are an issue with Pelosi).

The administration’s chief talking point on this report is that the CIA’s actions were an affront to “American values.” But that ignominious distinction belongs to Obama, Biden, Pelosi and Reid. It’s worth noting here that Obama simply kills terrorists with drones rather than try to gather intelligence by interrogating them. It’s not only hypocritical for him to complain, but he’s depleting our human intelligence along the way.

And a footnote: United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson, issued a statement: “The US Attorney General is under a legal duty to bring criminal charges against those responsible. … [T]he heaviest penalties should be reserved for those most seriously implicated in the planning and purported authorisation of these crimes.”

So should Obama and administration officials be prosecuted for releasing Gitmo prisoners who wound up back on the battlefield killing people? If this report results in the death of Americans, should Obama and Dianne Feinstein be prosecuted?

In conclusion, the group of former CIA directors and deputy directors wrote, “Between 1998 and 2001, the al Qaeda leadership in South Asia attacked two U.S. embassies in East Africa, a U.S. warship in the port of Aden, Yemen, and the American homeland – the most deadly single foreign attack on the U.S. in the country’s history. The al Qaeda leadership has not managed another attack on the homeland in the 13 years since, despite a strong desire to do so. The CIA’s aggressive counterterrorism policies and programs are responsible for that success.”

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