The recently released Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) Majority report on the CIA's Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program is marred by errors of facts and interpretation and is completely at odds with the reality that the leaders and officers of the Central Intelligence Agency lived through. It represents the single worst example of Congressional oversight in our many years of government service.
Astonishingly, the SSCI Majority staff interviewed no CIA officers responsible for establishing, implementing, or evaluating the program’s effectiveness. Let us repeat, no one at the CIA was interviewed.
Worse, the Committee selectively used documents to try to substantiate a point of view where ample and contrary evidence existed. Over 5 years and at a cost of $40 million, the staff "cherry picked" through 6 million pages of documents to produce an answer they knew the Majority wanted. In the intelligence profession, that is called politicization.
The SSCI Majority would have the American people believe that the program was initiated by a rogue CIA that consistently lied to the President, the National Security Council, the Attorney General, and the Congress. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing.
We, as former senior officers of the Central Intelligence Agency, created this website to present documents that conclusively demonstrate that the program was: authorized by the President, overseen by the National Security Council, and deemed legal by the Attorney General of the United States on multiple occasions. None of those officials were interviewed either. None. CIA relied on their policy and legal judgments. We deceived no one. You will not find this truth in the Majority Report.
Absent from the report is any discussion of the context the United States faced after 9/11. This was a time we had solid evidence that al Qaida was planning a second wave of attacks against the U.S.; we had certain knowledge that bin Laden had met with Pakistani nuclear scientists and wanted nuclear weapons; we had reports that nuclear weapons were being smuggled into New York City; and we had hard evidence that al Qaida was trying to manufacture anthrax. It felt like a "ticking time bomb" every single day.
In this atmosphere, time was of the essence. We had a deep responsibility to do everything within the law to stop another attack. We clearly understood that, even with legal and policy approvals, our decisions would be questioned years later. But we also understood that we would be morally culpable for the deaths of fellow citizens if we failed to gain information that could stop the next attacks.
The report defies credulity by saying that the interrogation program did not produce any intelligence value. In fact, the program led to the capture of senior al Qaida leaders, including helping to find Usama bin Ladin, and resulted in operations that led to the disruption of terrorist plots that saved thousands of American and allied lives.
Finally, Congress was in the loop. The so-called "Gang of Eight” of top Congressional leaders were briefed in detail on the program. The briefings were detailed and drew reactions that ranged from approval to no objection to encouragement to be even more aggressive. Again, none of this context appears in the Majority's report.
Our views are shared by the current CIA and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Republican Minority, both of which have released rebuttals to the Majority's report. Both critiques are clear-eyed, fact-based assessments which challenge the Majority's contention in a nonpartisan way. We urge all Americans to read them carefully before reaching any judgments.