Earlier this week for CIA Director General Michael Hayden appeared on Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg Show to discuss the release of Senate Democrats “torture report.” In the report, released by California Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democrats claim that the CIA lied to President George W. Bush and other policymakers about the effectiveness of “enhanced” interrogations (which some call torture).
Malzberg asked the former CIA Director if there was any truth to the reports characterization of his organization.
Malzberg: Did you ever lie to that committee?
Hayden: Of course not. First of all, it’s a felony. A couple of points to make, Steve. That briefing took place because Mike Hayden and the agency wanted it to take place. This was our work in September of 2006 to convince the administration that we had to brief the entire committee on the entire detention and interrogation program…
Malzberg: So when Dianne Feinstein says today that you lied, is she lying?
Hayden: I’ll go so far as to say she’s incorrect. I mean, lying is intentionally, intentionally misleading someone, all right. Let me make another distinction, telling people something they don’t want to hear is not the same thing as telling people something that is untrue.
Some reports today have come out suggesting that this was a completely partisan Democrat assault on the CIA. David Harsanyi of the Federalist writes that “The Senate Democrats’ ‘Torture Report’ Is About Politics, Not Justice.” Harsanyi (who opposes the use of torture), then goes on to detail the many reasons that Senator Feinstein’s “torture report is absolutely unbelievable. Harsanyi expertly debunks many of the major claims made by the report and shows why through their own actions, the Democrats who released the report have already proven it to be false.
(Take the time to read Harsanyi’s entire article – you’ll thank me later!)
But there were others making similar points. Former Democrat leader Bob Kerrey (D-NE) was intensely critical of the Feinstein’s report saying, I regret having to write a piece that is critical of the Democratic members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Most of them are former colleagues and friends. I hope they will remain friends after reading this.
Unlike Harsanyi’s article, the major issues for Kerrey did not center on the findings of the report, but on how the report was conducted. The former Nebraska Governor and Senator is a veteran of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and he has been part of several similar investigations into our intelligence community. The difference for Kerrey between the investigations that he was a part of and this one conducted by the vindictive Senator Feinstein was partisanship and the search for vengeance instead of truth.
I do not need to read the report to know that the Democratic staff alone wrote it. The Republicans checked out early when they determined that their counterparts started out with the premise that the CIA was guilty and then worked to prove it.
The worse consequence of a partisan report can be seen in this disturbing fact: It contains no recommendations. This is perhaps the most significant missed opportunity, because no one would claim the program was perfect or without its problems. But equally, no one with real experience would claim it was the completely ineffective and superfluous effort this report alleges.
Our intelligence personnel – who are once again on the front lines fighting the Islamic State – need recommended guidance from their board of governors: The U.S. Congress. Remarkably this report contains none. I hope – for the sake of our security and our values – Congress will follow the leadership of Senator McCain and give them this guidance.
If even a dyed-in-the-wool liberal Democrat like Bob Kerrey can see the injustice done to the CIA by the Democrats on the intelligence Committee… then shouldn’t everyone else take note too?
NBC’s Richard Engel noticed. He called the Democrats report “a betrayal” and said that it was all “about settling scores.”
“I think this is really about changing the narrative of American history….everyone in the world knew what was going on, including by the way, the Senate, which is now pretending to be a bit of a babe in the woods. They knew what was going on at the time and in many cases were quite happy with the intelligence they were getting. I think this is about rewriting the narrative of history.”
“I think this is really more about settling scores between this Intelligence Committee and the CIA. Notice it’s just really the CIA that’s being taken to task here. And your previous guest said that the military didn’t, you know, do any abusive things,” Engel said.
Just in case you weren’t sure about how the CIA feels about all of this, on Tuesday night Fox News’ Sean Hannity had former CIA operative Jose Rodriguez on to discuss the report. Rodriguez made his feelings clear, saying that the CIA had been thrown “under the bus.”
I think it’s a very dark day for the CIA. I think the CIA’s been thrown under the bus. And you know, the CIA is the country’s paramount intelligence service, and it has a very important mission, and the mission is to protect American interests, to protect the homeland, to safeguard American lives, and it needs to be held accountable when it screws up.
You know, there’s a lot of moving parts and a lot of risk taken when we do very complex counterterrorism covert action. In this case, I believe that, you know, we’ve been thrown under the bus, and the politicians are playing political football with the CIA.
Mr. Rodriguez also made it very clear that the Senate was thoroughly briefed on what was going on and for them to pretend to be ignorant now is completely disingenuous.
There are about 40 instances where we briefed the Senate and the House intelligence committees over the life of the program from 2002 to 2009. And we briefed Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi and Rockefeller and many others all the time. And we at the outset, at the beginning, back in 2001, I remember very clearly them telling me, you know, the problem that you guys have is that you are risk adverse. You need to use the authorities that we have given you to go out there and destroy this organization and to kill bin Laden. So we feel that we briefed them and briefed them thoroughly, and they are, you know, hypocritical.
I’ll go on record here and say that I believe torture is morally wrong. (No, I’m not a liberal.) I think that we’re the good guys and we should act like it as much as humanly possible. For the same reason, I also oppose President Obama’s drone assassination program (especially when it involves American citizens). However, I’m not naïve enough to believe that “enhanced interrogations” are never useful or necessary, either. As our intelligence community works to find the intel that will keep our nation safe, they sometimes run into situations where a “gray area” arises and their moral compass is tested. This is something they should be held accountable for, but not as a political football in the hopes of one party scoring points over another.
The Democrats “torture report” is a disgusting piece of political drama that serves no point other than to settle some old rivalry and to score Democrats some cheap political points (while making President Bush look bad…again). If Dianne Feinstein and the other Senate Democrats who worked on this report really cared they would have focused on solutions and not on blame.
But that’s the truth, isn’t it? The fact is that the Democrats (and maybe the Republicans) don’t really care.