December 10, 2014


Senate interrogation report distorts the CIA's success at foiling terrorist plots (John McLaughlin, December 9, 2014, Washington Post)

The most incredible and false claim in the Senate intelligence committee's report on the CIA interrogation program is that the program was neither necessary nor effective in the agency's post-9/11 pursuit of al-Qaeda. The report, written by the committee's Democratic majority and disputed by the Republican minority and the CIA, uses information selectively and distorts facts to "prove" its point.

I won't try to convince you that the program was the right thing to do -- reasonable people will differ. Nor will I discuss the management of the program, other than to say that the record clearly shows the agency went to extraordinary lengths to assure it was both legal and approved -- and the CIA halted the program when uncertain. What I want to address instead is the committee's assertion that the intelligence produced by the interrogation program was not required to stop al-Qaeda terrorists.

The Democratic staffers who drafted the report assert the program contributed nothing important, apparently to bolster a bogus claim that the CIA lied. But let's look at a few cases...

Ex-CIA Directors: Interrogations Saved Lives (The following response is from former CIA Directors George J. Tenet, Porter J. Goss and Michael V. Hayden (a retired Air Force general), and former CIA Deputy Directors John E. McLaughlin, Albert M. Calland (a retired Navy vice admiral) and Stephen R. Kappes, 12/10/14, WSJ)

What is wrong with the committee's report?

First, its claim that the CIA's interrogation program was ineffective in producing intelligence that helped us disrupt, capture, or kill terrorists is just not accurate. The program was invaluable in three critical ways:

• It led to the capture of senior al Qaeda operatives, thereby removing them from the battlefield.

• It led to the disruption of terrorist plots and prevented mass casualty attacks, saving American and Allied lives.

• It added enormously to what we knew about al Qaeda as an organization and therefore informed our approaches on how best to attack, thwart and degrade it.

A powerful example of the interrogation program's importance is the information obtained from Abu Zubaydah, a senior al Qaeda operative, and from Khalid Sheikh Muhammed, known as KSM, the 9/11 mastermind. We are convinced that both would not have talked absent the interrogation program.

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.

The removal of these senior al Qaeda operatives saved thousands of lives because it ended their plotting. KSM, alone, was working on multiple plots when he was captured.

Posted by at December 10, 2014 5:30 PM

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