Former CIA chief Michael Hayden is "upset" about the report's methodology
Ex-Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Democrat, blasts the Democratic-led probe as "partisan"
Republicans on the committee say the report gives a "false impression"
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden as well as some top political voices are issuing blistering responses to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture.
Hayden, whose tenure over the agency was skewered in the report, fired back at the findings, growing emotional in an interview and saying he was taken out of context.
“I think the conclusions they drew were analytically offensive and almost street-like in their simplistic language and conclusions,” he told Politico Magazine.
The new report says the CIA misled the public on its enhanced interrogation program for post-9/11 detainees during the George W. Bush era. It details brutal scenes of torture, harsher than what the CIA had disclosed in the past.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who steered the Senate investigation, blasted Hayden in her Senate floor speech Tuesday for providing deceptive testimony about the program to the committee when he met with them in 2007.
Feinstein said that Hayden painted a “starkly” different picture of certain interrogations in a hearing than what committee staff members learned about those interrogations from cables.
“(The cables) described brutal, around-the-clock interrogations … in which multiple coercive techniques were used in combination and with substantial repetition,” Feinstein said on the floor. “It was an ugly, visceral description.”
Hayden, who ran the CIA from 2006 to 2009, said that’s simply “untrue.” To back up his point, he noted that the Obama administration, which investigated CIA-detainee interrogations, didn’t prosecute anyone.
“You can’t have all this supposed documentary evidence saying the agency mistreated these prisoners and then Barack Obama’s and Eric Holder’s Department of Justice saying no, you’ve got bupkus here,” Hayden said.
Hayden insisted he was treated unfairly and disproportionately in the report, stressing that he became CIA director late in the game.
“Everything here happened before I got there [to the CIA], and I’m the one she [Sen. Feinstein] condemns on the floor of the Senate? Gee, how’d that happen?” he said.
“I’m the dumb son of a b—- who went down and tried to lay out this program in great detail to them,” he continued. “I’m mentioned twice as much in there as [former CIA Director] George Tenet — but George and [former CIA Director] Porter Goss had 97 detainees during their tenure, while I had two.”
He said statements he made about the program’s later days – when the interrogation system was better regulated and more finely tuned – were applied to the earlier days of the program when he wasn’t in charge.
“It misrepresents what I said,” he said.
“I would never lie to the committee,” he also said in the interview. “I did not lie.”
Former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, who previously served on the intelligence committee, argued that his former colleagues were part of a partisan effort.
Democrats, he wrote in an op-ed for USA Today, “started out with the premise that the CIA was guilty and then worked to prove it.”
He hammered the committee for relying on documents rather than interviews during the investigation and said the “most significant missed opportunity” was the fact that the report included no recommendations.
“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.”
Republicans on the Senate committee also defended the CIA, releasing a rebuttal Tuesday that questioned the methodology of the Senate five-year-long probe.
Their statement said the report created the “false impression that the CIA was actively misleading policy makers and impeding the counterterrorism efforts of other federal government agencies during the Program’s operation.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said he understands why torture was used on detainees and argued that American officers aren’t the bad guys.
“At the end of the day, I’m trying to distinguish ourselves from our enemies,” he said Tuesday on Fox News. “They crucify people, they rape women, they sell them into slavery, they will kill people’s children before their eyes.”
The techniques in question that were analyzed in the report were used to prevent another 9/11, Graham said.
“When you roll up some of these guys, you’re very anxious to get out of them whatever you can to prevent the next attack,” he continued. “I understand why people did this.”