According to a Wednesday story in the Washington Times, a group of former CIA officials are hotly disputing the conclusions of a report released by Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on enhanced interrogation techniques used by the agency against Al Qaeda prisoners in the opening days of the War on Terror. The officials include three former directors of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, Michael Haydon, and Porter Goss, and three former deputy directors. They contradict the findings that the enhanced techniques yielded no actionable intelligence.
In the meantime, former Vice President Dick Cheney buttressed the assertions that the enhanced techniques were effective. He denied that the methods were overly harsh. He also denied that he and President George W. Bush were kept in the dark as to what the CIA was doing, as asserted in the report.
Tenet, Haydon, Goss provided a step by step timeline as to how the enhanced interrogation techniques, which critics call “torture,” led to the dismantlement of Al Qaeda’s leadership structure and the finding and execution of Osama bin Laden.
“Enhanced interrogation of al Qaeda chieftain Abu Zubaydah led to the capture Ramzi Bin al-Shibh. Information from those two ultimately led to the capture of 9-11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
“Collectively, they divulged the location of Hambali, al Qaeda’s Asian chief who carried out the Bali massacre in Indonesia. Mohammed then pointed the CIA to Hambali’s successor, who was in the process of carrying out a major airliner attack, akin to 9/11.
“The interrogation program produced information on a courier that put him at the top of the list for leads on bin Laden’s whereabouts.
“When confronted, Mohammed lied about the courier’s role, a signal to the CIA that this was the man it needed to track.
“The courier turned out to be Abu Ahmed Kuwaiti, whom U.S. intelligence tracked in 2010 to a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan — the terror leader’s hideout.”
In short, the enhanced interrogation techniques the report criticized not only led to the execution of Osama bin Laden, but the capture or death of a number of other Al Qaeda leaders. This intelligence in turn led to the disruption of a number of 9/11 style plots. Thousands of lives were likely saved as a result.
Critics of the report assert that the Intelligence Committee Democrats cherry picked through millions of documents to come to a predetermined conclusion. Investigators did not interview any of the CIA professionals who conducted the interrogations to gain their perspective. None of the committee’s Republican members signed off on the report, leading to the suspicion that it is a partisan, political document, more geared toward scoring points than finding the truth.