We have written about the Senate Intelligence Committee’s forthcoming “Feinstein Report,” an attack on the Bush-era CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques. By all accounts, the report will conclude that the CIA regularly tortured terrorism suspects, lied to Congress about it, and gained no valuable information as a result.
I view the report as not only a political document — the latest salvo in the war between Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA.
In my view, the war stems from the fact that leading congressional Democrats who were briefed on what the CIA was doing to fight terrorism signed off more or less unquestioningly. But later, when the political climate changed, these politicians tried to claim ignorance.
The CIA, understandably, was unwilling to let them off the hook. Now the Dems will have their revenge. (Republicans on the Committee honorably refused to participate in the farce.)
Sen. Feinstein has done everything possible to stack the deck against the CIA. As Steve Hayes reports:
Feinstein required former CIA directors and deputy directors to sign nondisclosure agreements in order even to see the accusations made against them. Despite the fact that virtually all of the 500-plus-page report has been declassified for release, the Feinstein committee also imposed, as a condition of access to the report, severe restrictions on what those officials may say in their own defense.
Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA, told The Weekly Standard: “Based on the nondisclosure agreement I signed, I cannot talk to you about the details of the Feinstein report, the Republican rebuttal, or the agency response—all as a condition of my being able to see it.”
In the clearest evidence that the committee was interested in blame rather than truth, the staffers did not seek to interview those involved in the interrogations.
This is searching for the truth, Democrat-style.
Fortunately, one of the CIA’s lead interrogators is fighting back. According to Hayes, that interrogator, writing under the pseudonym Jason Beale, has produced a 39-page document that counters the narrative pushed by Democrats and amplified by journalists eager to discredit the program.
The Weekly Standard has made “Beale’s” document available here. It makes for fascinating reading.
Some of the best evidence Beale elicits in support of the efficacy of enhanced interrogation comes from no less an authority than Barack Obama. Beale compares the statements of candidate Obama on the subject with those of President Obama:
Candidate Obama repeatedly stated that enhanced interrogation was not only immoral and un-American, but it didn’t work. People will say anything to make it stop. Every leading interrogator and intelligence professional will tell you that “torture” never works—it produces bad intelligence.
But here was President Obama:
I am absolutely convinced it was the right thing to do [to end enhanced interrogation] —- not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to this treatment, but because we could have gotten this information in other ways, in ways that were consistent with our values, in ways that were consistent with who we are.
But here’s what I can tell you —- that the public reports and the public justifications for these techniques -— which is that we got information from these individuals that were subjected to these techniques– doesn’t answer the core question, which is: Could we have gotten that same information without resorting to these techniques? And it doesn’t answer the broader question: Are we safer as a consequence of having used these techniques?
Notice the switch. Candidate Obama insisted that enhanced interrogation didn’t work. President Obama, now in a position to know the facts, can’t make that claim. So he argues instead that, although enhanced interrogation succeeded in obtaining information from terrorists, we could have gotten the information in other ways.
The efficacy proposition — enhanced interrogation succeeded in prying information from terrorists == is a straightforward factual issue. It can easily be answered and clearly was answered, even to Obama’s satisfaction, in the affirmative: the enhanced interrogations yielded good information.
The question of whether the information could have been obtained in other ways is less straightforward. It sounds hypothetical. By retreating to it, Obama feels he’s on safer ground.
However, this hypothetical-sounding question — could we have gotten the same information through other methods – isn’t necessarily unanswerable. The CIA tried initially to obtain information from the terrorists through non-enhanced means. And CIA interrogators like “Beale” have long experience in using such methods.
Here is Beale’s response to President Obama’s claim:
I know that we couldn’t have collected the same information using standard techniques because I was an expert in using standard techniques — I used them thousands of times over two decades — and the notion that I could have convinced the detainees. . .to provide closely-held information (or any information at all) without the use of enhanced interrogation techniques is laughable. There is zero chance. Zero.
Zero. That’s the same chance that Feinstein and her fellow Democratic revisionist historians would produce an honest report about the Bush CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques.