WASHINGTON, D.C. — The CIA director said that enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs), condemned in a Senate Intelligence Committee report as ineffective, did help thwart terrorist attacks against the United States, capture terrorists, and save lives.
“Our review indicates that interrogations of detainees on whom EITs were used did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives,” CIA Director John Brennan said in a statement Tuesday. “The intelligence gained from the program was critical to our understanding of al-Qa’ida and continues to inform our counterterrorism efforts to this day.”
“We also disagree with the Study’s characterization of how CIA briefed the program to the Congress, various entities within the Executive Branch, and the public,” he continued. “While we made mistakes, the record does not support the Study’s inference that the Agency systematically and intentionally misled each of these audiences on the effectiveness of the program.”
Brennan acknowledged that the CIA detention and interrogation program suffered from serious shortcomings in its early stages.
“In carrying out that program, we did not always live up to the high standards that we set for ourselves and that the American people expect of us,” he said.
The Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), released a nearly 500-page redacted summary of a scathing study on CIA’s interrogation tactics that totals more than 6,700 pages.
A day before the summary was released, Army Col. Steve Warren said, “There’s certainly the possibility that the release of this report could cause unrest and therefore the Joint Staff has directed the combatant commands to take appropriate force protection measures,” The Hill reports.
Sen. Feinstein referred to the tactics as torture.
“It is my personal conclusion that, under any common meaning of the term, CIA detainees were tortured. I also believe that the conditions of confinement and the use of authorized and unauthorized interrogation and conditioning techniques were cruel, inhuman, and degrading,” she wrote in the foreword of the published report. “I believe the evidence of this is overwhelming and incontrovertible.”
The key findings of the Senate study include:
- The CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.
- The CIA’s justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.
- The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States’ standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs.
According to the executive summary, the Senate investigators “did not interview CIA officials in the context of the Committee Study.”
Republicans have criticized the release of the report.
“I fear that publicizing the details of this classified program – which was legal, authorized, and appropriately briefed to the intelligence committees – will only inflame our enemies, risk the lives of those who continue to sacrifice on our behalf, and undermine the very organization we continuously ask to do the hardest jobs in the toughest places,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.
NBC News reports that about 2,000 U.S. Marines based in and around the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea were placed on alert in preparation for the release of the report.
Responding to the release of the Senate investigation, President Obama said, “The previous administration faced agonizing choices about how to pursue al Qaeda and prevent additional terrorist attacks against our country. As I have said before, our nation did many things right in those difficult years. At the same time, some of the actions that were taken were contrary to our values.”
“No nation is perfect. But one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better,” he also said, later adding, “Today is also a reminder that upholding the values we profess doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us stronger and that the United States of America will remain the greatest force for freedom and human dignity that the world has ever known.”