Defending the CIA

By Elise Cooper / December 12, 2014 / American Thinker

Once again the Democrats and the Obama Administration are throwing the CIA under the bus, while Senator Dianne Feinstein is on a personal witch-hunt.  With the release of the Democrats’ report on the CIA enhanced interrogation program, they seem to enjoy playing partisan politics instead of trying to keep Americans safe. Their most outrageous conclusions were that CIA officials allegedly deceived their superiors at the White House, members of Congress and even sometimes their own peers about the interrogation program, as well as that no actionable intelligence was gained.  American Thinker interviewed former CIA officials to get their side of the story.

It is obvious that the mainstream media is biased, labeling it as “The Torture Report.”  In looking at just the headlines the condemnation becomes obvious: “CIA Report Details Brutality, Dishonesty,” “Torture Was Ineffective,” “Ugly Truth,” “CIA Misled Public On Torture,” and “CIA Abuses A Stain On Our Values.”  Unfortunately it seems that all these media outlets forgot one important point, that during the Bush administration there was not an attack on the US homeland and its embassies.

Jose Rodriquez Jr., the former Director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, told American Thinker, that the enhanced interrogation techniques included sleep deprivation, stress techniques, facial holds, insult slaps with an open hand, and waterboarding of three terrorists.  “Our objective was not to inflict pain, but to instill a sense of hopelessness and despair.  It is more about psychological manipulation than anything else. After being captured, the terrorists eventually will conclude that they have no control over their situation and we are the ones who control their fate.  You may be surprised, but I agree with those people who say torture does not work.  That is because our program was not torture and it did work.  We made sure that we vetted information. Everything was based on legality, a training manual, strict procedures, and guidelines. The bottom line is that the program was very well managed and what was written in the Democratic report is widely exaggerated or never happened.”

All those interviewed regard the Democrats as being highly hypocritical.  They push back that in the wake of the 9/11 attacks Congress urged the CIA to do everything possible to prevent another attack, debilitate, and destroy al-Qaeda.  Congress was briefed throughout, a number of times.  Either members of Congress are lying to the American people or they have selective memories while now taking the moral high ground. For example, Democratic Senator John D. Rockefeller, a high ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in March 2003 about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed being turned over to a third country that permits torture, “But I wouldn’t rule it out.  I wouldn’t take anything off the table where he is concerned, because this is the man who has killed hundreds and hundreds of Americans over the last ten years.” Then there is the famous Nancy Pelosi news conference where she said she was never briefed; yet there are detailed documents supporting the CIA’s position that members of Congress knew about and were briefed continuously on the enhanced interrogation methods.

President Obama also weighs in on the moral issue, recently stating, “The report documents a troubling program involving enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects in secret facilities outside the United States, and it reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as a nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests.”  Yet, he has authorized the outright killing of a number of terrorists with drones, including Americans who have not been given due process.

Rodriguez Jr. noted, “It is highly irresponsible for the President of the US to say we tortured some folks.  He says it’s against our values, but does not seem to have a problem killing people.  I don’t understand how this administration and most of the media do not see the contradiction that exists between basically killing and capture, even though some have been subjected to intense interrogation techniques.  I will never understand that one.  Worse yet, dead men don’t talk. Interrogation is a key tool in protecting this country.  You never know what crisis is going to come up for which we will need to interrogate again.  Giving it up unilaterally in such a political way does damage to our country. This administration does not capture people and take prisoners.”

A former operative wonders if the Commander-In-Chief understands the training process those in the military must endure.  The waterboarding and other techniques were based on the training of the SEALs, Air Force pilots, and Special Forces. He noted, “The CIA got it right, and it was an incredible accomplishment. It led to the capture of senior al Qaeda operatives, thereby removing them from the battlefield. Anytime you are putting a human being under duress it is nasty.   Even non-physical interrogation is not a pretty thing to watch.  You have to understand that he (the operative) is attempting to get someone to give up something he doesn’t want to give up to save American lives.”

Regarding the claims the EIT program did not prevent any future attacks those interviewed explicitly say ‘not true.’  They refer to the quotes of President Obama’s CIA directors.  Leon Panetta stated in his book, “The CIA got important, even critical intelligence from individuals subjected to these enhanced interrogation techniques.”

John Brennan who was a senior officer at the agency at the time of the EIT program and is the current CIA Director commented in the CIA response, “The program did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives. Yet, despite common ground with some of the findings of the Committee’s Study, we part ways with the Committee on some key points. 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. The intelligence gained from the program was critical to our understanding of al-Qaida and continues to inform our counterterrorism efforts to this day.”

Rodriguez Jr. told American Thinker that everyone felt there was a ticking time bomb that could be heard but not seen.  To prevent a second wave of attacks the detention and interrogation program was formulated.  There were reports that bin Laden had met with Pakistani nuclear scientists, there were attempts to smuggle nuclear weapons into New York City, and al Qaeda was trying to manufacture anthrax.  “This program led to the disruption of terrorist plots that saved American lives.  It contributed to helping us learn more about al Qaeda including the best way on how to attack, thwart, and degrade it.  Information provided by Zubaydah through the interrogation program led to the capture in 2002 of KSM associate and post-9/11 plotter Ramzi Bin al-Shibh. Information from both Zubaydah and al-Shibh led us to KSM. KSM then led us to Riduan Isamuddin, aka Hambali, East Asia’s chief al Qaeda ally and the perpetrator of the 2002 Bali bombing in Indonesia, in which more than 200 people perished.”

He also responded to those critics who said that all the CIA had to do was release the videotapes to prove their points, but that is no longer possible since the tapes were destroyed.  “People under my command and their families were at risk once their faces would have been shown.  Make no mistake those tapes would have been made public. No one is reporting that there is a written record of what was on the tapes, a documentation from the lawyers who reviewed the tapes before they were destroyed.”

The other finding by this Democratic report is that the CIA systematically and intentionally misled each of these audiences on the effectiveness of the program. The media is reporting that Michael Hayden, when he was CIA Director, misinformed Congress regarding the number of detainees.  It appears that it was not Hayden doing the misleading but the Democrats on the committee who formulated the report.  It is very interesting how they never spoke to anyone who ran the program or was in charge of the CIA, having cherry picked the information.  Hayden noted, “Maybe if the committee had talked to real people and accessed their notes we wouldn’t have to have this conversation. This is an example of committee methodology. Take a stray ‘fact’ and claim its meaning to fit the desired narrative, creating a mass deception.” Do Americans even care if the amount of terrorists detained was the number supposedly reported by Hayden, 100, or the committee’s number of 119? What does it matter considering they were high value targets that should never be released?

Ultimately, Americans should thank those at the CIA, and hope that the final outcome of this report is not going to create an agency that is timid and risk-averse. These men and women who serve in the intelligence agency never get the heroic welcome or thanks they so rightly deserve for the risks they take.   Their names will never be known and they will never receive the public gratitude so many others get. The Democrats and mainstream media need to understand that most Americans feel making terrorists uncomfortable is worth the price of saving American lives. As Jose Rodriguez Jr. summarized, “We need to protect our intelligence organizations, mentor them, and support them.  I hope Americans will see the facts by going to our website,  I have no regrets.  I feel honored I was able to serve my country and had the ability to help keep Americans safe.”

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.

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