The PJ Tatler

CBS: Torture Report a 'Public Smackdown of the CIA'

CBS correspondent Bob Orr, who covers the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department, made an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation yesterday to make predictions about the impending release of the CIA torture report, calling it a “total smackdown of the CIA.”

“The 480-page report, a summary of a still-classified 6,000 page study, is expected to be made public this week. It amounts to the first public accounting of the CIA’s alleged use of torture on suspected Al Qaeda detainees held in secret facilities in Europe and Asia in the years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”

Warnings have gone out around the world, with a backlash expected against diplomats and military personnel abroad upon the report’s release.  Bob Schieffer also noted the report was so contentious that at one point Director John Brennan threatened to resign if it was released.

SCHIEFFER: “Bob, I want to go to you first. We know the secretary of state did talk to Chairwoman Feinstein. Do you think she’s — what do you know about whether she still intends to go ahead with releasing this report?”

ORR: “Well, Senator Feinstein is in a tight spot. And she’s not tipping her hand, Bob. But I think everyone we have talked to expects the report to come out probably on Tuesday. If it does come out, as you outlined, this will be a public smackdown of the CIA. This essentially will accuse the agency in very strong language, I’m told, of going outside the law, doing too much without authority to try to get information from these al Qaeda detainees. On top of that, the committee, the Democrats on the committee are going to allege that this went for no purpose. No good intelligence was gleaned. Well, the CIA is going to defend itself. They’re not going to necessarily defend the policy, but they are going to say, look, we tried to stay within the bounds of the law in the shadow of 9/11, when things were very, very tough. We made some mistakes, but in the end real intelligence was had.”

SCHIEFFER: “But we also — it’s my understanding the Republicans on the committee are also going to enter a report of their own into the record. And I talked to Republicans last week. They are apoplectic about what the impact of this thing might be. Senator Saxby Chambliss, who’s the ranking Republican on Intelligence, says he is worried that lives may actually be in danger, that facilities may be attacked when this thing gets out, and he says it’s simply not true, that the CIA didn’t do anything that they thought was illegal, that they went to the Justice Department and in their view of events and the CIA’s, they say, we were doing what we were told we could do. And they also remind us of what the circumstances were when these things were taking place. We had just had 9/11.

ORR: “Well, that’s exactly right. This program, the detainee program and the enhanced interrogation program, was stood up in 2002 almost from a zero start. The CIA admits that it didn’t have everything in place necessarily to do it perfectly at the outset. Some mistakes were made. But over time, a number of very important, key pieces of intelligence were gleaned that allowed the CIA to take key al Qaeda operatives into custody, and to pull those strings to learn more about al Qaeda now than we knew then. I’m told that just about everything we know about the terror group al Qaeda has come from the detainee and the interrogation program in the last 10 years. And that’s a volume of information.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers , R-Mich., cautioned against the report’s release, saying America’s allies are predicting “this will cause violence and deaths.” He said U.S. intelligence agencies and foreign governments have said privately that the release of the Senate intelligence panel report on CIA interrogations a decade ago will be used by extremists to incite violence that is likely to cost lives. “I think this is a terrible idea,” Rogers said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Foreign leaders have approached the government and said, ‘You do this, this will cause violence and deaths.’ Our own intelligence community has assessed that this will cause violence and deaths.”