A still unreleased Senate Intelligence Committee report that is expected to claim the CIA misled the George W. Bush administration about its use of torture is already being panned by the former president’s circle, and top CIA officials are treating with derision assertions that they also were kept in the dark about what was happening in the field, The New York Times reported.
The 480-page report, a summary of a still-classified 6,000 page study, is expected to be made public next week. The report is expected to describe the specific “enhanced interrogation” techniques, like waterboarding, used on suspects, and many locations around the world where this was done.
Several ex-intelligence officials have privately reassured the Bush team in recent days that they did not deceive them and have lobbied the former president’s advisers to speak out publicly on their behalf, the Times reported.
Specifically, two former CIA directors George Tenet and Gen. Michael Hayden, and John McLaughlin, a former deputy CIA director who also served as acting director, have been forceful about defending the program.
“Once the release occurs, we’ll have things to say and will be making some documents available that bear on the case,” McLaughlin told the Times on Sunday. He said the report “uses information selectively, often distorts to make its points, and as I recall contains no recommendations.”
Hayden said the report mischaracterizes CIA efforts. “We’re not here to defend torture,” he told the Times in an email. “We’re here to defend history.”
Hayden also said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that to say that any assertion that the CIA “lied to everyone about a program that wasn’t doing any good, that beggars the imagination.”
An unnamed former Bush-era official told the Times, “This was not a rogue program. And nobody in our administration is going to throw the CIA over the side on this.”
Bush himself, in an interview Sunday with CNN, also made that clear.
“We’re fortunate to have men and women who work hard at the CIA serving on our behalf,” he told CNN’s Candy Crowley. “These are patriots and whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off base.”
These are “really good people and we’re lucky as a nation to have them,” he said.
Jose Rodriguez, the CIA operative who ran the interrogation program, wrote in The Washington Post on Sunday that those who are attacking the agency formerly pushed it to do whatever it took to overcome al-Qaida.
“The interrogation program was authorized by the highest levels of the U.S. government, judged legal by the Justice Department, and proved effective by any reasonable standard,” Rodriguez wrote. “The leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees and of both parties in Congress were briefed on the program more than 40 times between 2002 and 2009.”
Rodriguez himself briefed Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in 2002 that terror suspects were being waterboarded.
Others fear that the report could launch a new wave of violence against Americans.
Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who is head of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that U.S. intelligence agencies and foreign governments have said privately that the release of the report will be used by extremists to incite violence that is likely to cost lives.
On Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry urged the senator in charge of the report to consider the timing of the release, although Obama administration officials say they still support making it public.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has not responded to reports of the Kerry call, though she told The Los Angeles Times in a story published Sunday that, “We have to get this report out.”
Feinstein told The Los Angeles Times that the harsh interrogations undermined “societal and constitutional values that we are very proud of. Anybody who reads this is going to never let this happen again.”
Committee staff did not interview Bush or, apparently, anyone else before drafting the report on the grounds that the Justice Department was conducting its own criminal investigation. The committee based its findings on transcripts of interviews carried out by the agency’s inspector general, the Times reported.
The Obama administration has asked the committee not to make the report public, saying that doing so would endanger Americans overseas.
But some groups are pressing for the release. “Delaying release of the Senate report because of possible negative repercussions for national security is a red herring,” said Sarah Margon of Human Rights Watch.
“Maintaining secrecy around a defunct torture program is the real liability as doing so denies us the right to debate what happened and make sure it is never repeated,” the Times reported.
House Intelligence Chief Rogers: Intel Report Release Will Spur Attacks
Dianne Feinstein Pushes for Release of Senate CIA Torture Report Source Newsmax