Republican leaders slammed a new report on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques in the War on Terror as slanted and “simply wrong.”
The lengthy declassified executive summary was released today, days before Democrats turn over control of Senate and committee chairmanships to the GOP.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who defended the release of the study on the Senate floor today, said the CIA redacted 7 percent of the original report.
“The CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques were not an effective weapon to gather information,” Feinstein said, noting that the CIA’s program was “far more brutal than people were led to believe” with “poorly trained” interrogators who had histories of “personal problems” including violent tendencies.
The report found that the CIA “actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight” on the programs, and “impeded effective White House oversight” as well.
It also alleges that the CIA’s interrogations “complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions” while “numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections” were ignored.
It asserts that the programs “damaged the United States’ standing in the world.”
“As we have both stated before, we are opposed to this study and believe it will present serious consequences for U.S. national security,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, said in a joint statement. “Regardless of what one’s opinions may be on these issues, the study by Senate Democrats is an ideologically motivated and distorted recounting of historical events.”
“The fact that the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program developed significant intelligence that helped us identify and capture important al-Qa’ida terrorists, disrupt their ongoing plotting, and take down Usama Bin Ladin is incontrovertible,” McConnell and Chambliss added. “Claims included in this report that assert the contrary are simply wrong.”
Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the report “is troubling for a variety of reasons, most of which are not found in its pages.”
“Enhanced interrogation techniques employed by members of our intelligence community saved American lives, and Senate Democrats should thank these brave men and women who worked to protect us – not vilify them,” Cornyn said.
“I cannot think of a greater disservice to our men and women serving in the military and in our intelligence field than to hand terror groups like ISIL another recruiting tool and excuse to target them. Due to the political calculations of some, the American people and our allies across the globe are less safe today than they were before.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who is retiring at the end of the 113th Congress, said it was “wholly appropriate” to conduct the review but the public release could serve to “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.”
The White House said yesterday that there are “some indications” that the report’s release could lead to “greater risk” for U.S. installations and Americans abroad.
President Obama issued a statement on the report noting that “in the years after 9/11, with legitimate fears of further attacks and with the responsibility to prevent more catastrophic loss of life, 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. That is why I unequivocally banned torture when I took office, because one of our most effective tools in fighting terrorism and keeping Americans safe is staying true to our ideals at home and abroad,” Obama said.
“…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. Rather than another reason to refight old arguments, I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong—in the past.”
CIA Director John Brennan acknowledged “that the detention and interrogation program had shortcomings and that the Agency made mistakes.”
“Yet, despite common ground with some of the findings of the Committee’s Study, we part ways with the Committee on some key points,” Brennan said in a statement. “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-Qa’ida and continues to inform our counterterrorism efforts to this day.”
“…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. Moreover, the process undertaken by the Committee when investigating the program provided an incomplete and selective picture of what occurred. As noted in the Minority views and in a number of additional views of Members, no interviews were conducted of any CIA officers involved in the program, which would have provided Members with valuable context and perspective surrounding these events.”