WASHINGTON: A US Senate report that analyzed millions of pages of intelligence records will show that enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA were not effective in helping find terror suspects, top lawmakers said Monday.
Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin also said they were “deeply troubled” by a senior CIA operative’s claims that the harsh techniques used after 9/11 — and deemed torture by President Barack Obama’s administration — led to war-on-terror successes.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, whose staff reviewed more than six million pages of documents, will “soon” complete a 5,000-page report providing “a detailed, factual description of how interrogation techniques were used, the conditions under which detainees were held, and the intelligence that was — or wasn’t — gained from the program,” the senators said in a statement.
Their comments appear to be prompted by the publication on Monday of an in-depth account of CIA interrogation operations in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks in which author Jose Rodriguez, the former CIA deputy director for operations, defended waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning.
Rodriguez also appeared on CBS show “60 Minutes” on Sunday, saying he had “no qualms” about engaging in measures that “went to the border of legality” because they helped save American lives.
“If there was going to be another attack against the US, we would have blood on our hands because we would not have been able to extract that information from” terror suspect Abu Zubaydah, who the CIA said was waterboarded some 83 times in August 2002.
“So we started to talk about an alternative set of interrogation procedures.”
He argued that top terror suspect and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, whom the CIA says was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003, spilled key information as a result of the methods.
“I think that the cumulative effect of waterboarding and sleep deprivation and everything else that was done eventually got to him,” Rodriguez said on “60 Minutes.”
But Feinstein and Levin said statements by Rodriguez and others about the role the CIA interrogation program had in locating Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a US military raid in Pakistan one year ago, “are inconsistent with CIA records.”
“The suggestion that the operation was carried out based on information gained through the harsh treatment of CIA detainees is not only inaccurate, it trivializes the work of individuals across multiple US agencies that led to (bin Laden) and the eventual operation.”
The CIA used coercive interrogation methods on dozens of detainees in so-called black sites around the world, and Rodriguez and others have said that “original lead information” on bin Laden’s courier, which ultimately led to his location, came from those enhanced interrogations.
“This statement is wrong. The original information had no connection to CIA detainees,” the senators said, insisting that key intelligence on the courier came from “a variety of classified sources” and that such data will be detailed in the forthcoming report.
A source familiar with the report told AFP its completion was still “several weeks” away.