The release of the Senate majority report that accuses CIA officers of employing “torture” in carrying out the agency’s former detention and interrogation program has impacted morale at the agency, according to a U.S. security expert and the CIA director.
In an interview with Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW), Harlan Ullman, a U.S. security expert, said, “The CIA is going through a huge morale problem.”
He was commenting on a report on the CIA’s former detention and interrogation program that was released by Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on December 9.
Without interviewing CIA personnel, the report concluded that agency officers employed “torture” in applying enhanced interrogation tactics (EITs) on jihadists and intentionally misled lawmakers, the White House, and the public about information obtained through the techniques.
“CIA employees believed they were doing what they were supposed to be doing. They find this to be a devastating critique,” Ullman, who has worked for NATO and currently serves as a national security adviser for several Western governments, told DW.
CIA Director John Brennan held a press conference on December 11 in response to the release of the Senate majority report.
He was asked to gauge the impact of the report on agency morale.
“The CIA officers are operating in some very, very dangerous places and are doing this on behalf of their fellow Americans and so there is some concern and disappointment about what has happened,” Brennan responded. “There’s certainly a concern about the misrepresentations that they think are circulating now out in the public, but they are determined to make sure they’re able to do what they need to do.”
“The CIA’s mission is as important today as it was before this report came out and it’s going to be even more important tomorrow,” he added. “And one of the great things about this workforce is that they will stay focused on what it is that they’re asked to do.”
DW notes that the Senate report has “exposed cracks” between President Obama and his appointee, CIA Director Brennan.
In condemning the interrogation tactics, Obama referred to the techniques as “torture.” The President issued an executive order upon taking office in 2009, prohibiting the use of torture.
On the other hand, Brennan has not mentioned the word “torture” in commenting on the tactics and has even defended the detention and interrogation program, saying it did yield results, contrary to what the report concluded.
During the December 11 press conference, Brennan criticized Senate investigators for not interviewing CIA officers.