The CIA director took issue with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) for not interviewing CIA officers during its investigation on the agency’s enhanced interrogation tactics (EITs), indicating that as a result a partisan investigation was unveiled.
“Our hope was that it would offer an impartial and authoritative assessment of the program, help us learn from our mistakes, and inform how we conduct sensitive activities in the future,” said John Brennan, the CIA chief. “Unfortunately, the Committee could not agree on a bipartisan way forward, and no CIA personnel were interviewed by the Committee.”
Brennan held a press conference in response to the Senate panel publicly releasing a shorter-version of its 6,700-plus page study on CIA’s former detention and interrogation tactics.
In it, the Committee acknowledged that it did not interview CIA officials in the context of its study.
“This was unusual. In the vast majority of cases, SSCI’s congressional reports have been the result of collaborative, bipartisan investigations. Over the course of my career, I have seen the value of the Committee’s reviews,” the CIA director, appointed by President Obama, explained. “Even on politically sensitive matters such as the SSCI’s investigation into the intelligence failures regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the Committee succeeded in producing a report that was supported unanimously.”
The CIA director said the Committee investigation is “flawed.”
“Although we view the process undertaken by the Committee when investigating the program as flawed, many aspects of their conclusions are sound and consistent with our own prior findings,” noted Brennan. “Over the years, internal Agency reviews–including numerous investigations by our Office of Inspector General–found fault in CIA’s running of the program.”
“To address the concerns identified, the CIA has implemented a number of reforms in an effort to make sure those mistakes never happen again,” he added.
Brennan acknowledged that the CIA was unprepared when the program was implemented, but added that the agency has learned from its mistakes.
He also indicated that the interrogation tactics contributed to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
“It is our considered view that the detainees who were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques provided information that was useful and was used in the ultimate operation to go against Bin Laden,” he said.
However, the CIA director warned, “There was useful intelligence, very useful, valuable intelligence that was obtained from individuals who had been at some point subjected to EITs. Whether that could’ve been obtained without the use of those EIT’s it’s something, again, that is unknowable.”
Some Republicans, including Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), the ranking-member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, have come out against releasing the report.
The report criticizes some of the CIA officers involved in the interrogation practices, which Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate panel, said amounted to “torture” in the report.
“Numerous CIA officers had serious documented personal and professional problems–including histories of violence and records of abusive treatment of others–that should have called into question their suitability to participate in the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, their employment with the CIA,and their continued access to classified information,” reported the Committee. “In nearly all cases, these problems were known to the CIA prior to the assignment of these officers to detention and interrogation positions.”