Rebuttal

Title:                      Rebuttal

Author:                  Bill Harlow

Harlow, Bill (2015), ed. Rebuttal: The CIA Responds to The Senate Intelligence Committee’s Study of Its Detention And Interrogation Program. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press

LCCN:    2015026188

JK468.I6 R43 2015

Summary

  • “In December 2014, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) released a 500+ page executive summary of a 6,000 page study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation of al Qa’ida terrorists. In early 2015 publishers released the study in book form and called it “the report” on “torture.” Rebuttal presents the “rest of the story.” In addition to reprinting the official responses from the SSCI minority and CIA, this publication also includes eight essays from senior former CIA officials who all are deeply knowledgeable about the program – and yet none of whom were interviewed by the SSCI staff during the more than four years the report was in preparation. These authors of the eight essays are George Tenet, Porter Goss, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, USAF (Ret.), John McLaughlin, Michael Morell, J. Philip Mudd, John Rizzo, and Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr”– Provided by publisher.
  • “In December 2014 the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) released a 500+ page executive summary of a 6000 page study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation of al Qa’ida terrorists. In early 2015 publishers released the study in book form and called it “the report” on “torture.” Rebuttal presents the “rest of the story.” In addition to reprinting the official responses from the SSCI minority and the CIA, this publication also includes eight essays from senior former CIA officials who all are deeply knowledgeable about the program–and yet none of whom were interviewed by the SSCI staff during the more than four years the report was in preparation”– Provided by publisher.

Contents

  • Machine generated contents note: — Introduction: CIA Interrogation of al Qa’ida Terrorists–The Rest of the Story — GEORGE J. TENET — What Must Never Happen Again? — PORTER GOSS — Analysis: Flawed, Politicized. and Rejected — GEN. MICHAEL V. HAYDEN, USAF, RET. — The Senate Majority Report on Interrogation: An Opportunity Lost — JOHN MCLAUGHLIN — First Amendment Wrongs — MICHAEL MORELL — The Craft of Intelligence and the Value of Detainee Information: Lessons from the CIA’s al Qa’ida Prisoners — J. PHILIP MUDD — The Legal Case for EITs — JOHN RIZZO — Broken Covenant — JOSE A. RODRIGUEZ JR. — The CIA Rebuttal — The Minority Report.

Subjects

Date Updated:      July 25, 2016

Caveat. Perpendat itaque lector cavendum (civilis).[1]

Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake[2]

Rebuttal contains eight short critical essays by former senior CIA officers who were directly involved in the Agency’s Detention and Interrogations Program, but none of whom were interviewed by those conducting the SSCI study. Former DCI George Tenet argues that the SSCI “failed to seek the truth or honestly portray events in the months and years following 9/11 in a manner that bears any resemblance to what my colleagues and I at CIA experienced.” (p. 1)

Porter Goss, a former DCI and former chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, noted, inter alia, that the “SSCI Democratic staff selected supporting materials and connected disjointed dots, willfully omitting and avoiding any information” that would contradict the views of its chairwoman. He also pointed out that “there was congressional oversight of the RDI program… and the specific enhanced interrogation techniques were briefed and discussed with the top committee leadership. I recall no objections being made.” (pp. 8-9)

Former D/CIA General Michael Hayden challenges the Committee on its inaccurate characterization of previous testimony and its refusal to accept “the important role that detainee-derived information played in tracking Usama Bin Ladin to Abbottabad.” (pp. 12-13) Former DD/DCI John McLaughlin follows up on this latter point, adding that “everyone who worked with the information knows the allegation is false.” (p. 14) He then provides a number of examples, as does former DD/CTC Phil Mudd, who adds even more detail in describing the incremental nature of analysis and the value of detainee information, especially the impact of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Mudd is perplexed that those who were not there and did not do the analysis could reach a different conclusion.

Former DD/CIA Michael Morel! contributes a piece that, among other topics, attacks the media—noting first that they ignored the two reports (one by the CIA, and the other by the SSCI Republican members) that were issued with the SSCI document, and that “not a single media analyst or commentator rigorously examined the report’s assertions or took an in-depth look at all three documents.” (p. 22)

John Rizzo, the CI’s chief legal advisor for seven of the eight years after 9/11, had more direct continuous knowledge of the RDI program than most other officers. Although he is cited over 200 times in the SSCI report, his request to be interviewed during its preparation, so he could refute their charges of providing inaccurate data, was denied. In his article, he summarizes the legal precautions he would have discussed with them. On the issue of detainee information value, Rizzo quotes former CIA director Leon Panetta that the program “yielded important… even critical intelligence.” (p. 33)

The final article is by Jose Rodriguez, who was chief of the Counterterrorism Center during most of the RDI program. He explains why the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah was of value and what corrective action was taken when abuses were discovered. He ends by clarifying the practical impact that being labeled “torturers” has on operational effectiveness, especially when it contradicts previous authorities.

The last two documents in Rebuttal are the official CIA response to the SSCI report and the report of the SSCI Republican minority, which did not participate in the effort. Both are nearly 100 pages, with many redactions. Nevertheless, they add additional data; in the cover memorandum, current D/CIA John Brennan explains his concurrence and differences with the findings.

Bill Harlow, former chief of the Office of Public Affairs at CIA, has assembled an informative, easy-to-read, succinct collection of position papers. For many readers, these papers will demonstrate an unacceptable degree of confirmation bias on the part of the SSCI staff who wrote the RDI study. But the SSCI is unlikely to be persuaded that their facts and judgments are wrong or that they were the victims of confirmation bias.

[1] On occasion, personal loyalties and opinions can be carved in stone and defended with a vengeance — at times with some venom thrown in. In these situations, the actual importance of the subject matter is dwarfed by the amount of aggression expressed. Retain a sense of proportion in all online and in-person discussions. [From The Intelligencer: Journal of U. S. Intelligence Studies.]

[2] Peake, Hayden in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (22, 2, Spring 2016, p. 114). Hayden Peake is the Curator of the CIA’s Historical Intelligence Collection. He has served in the Direc-torate of Science and Technology and the Directorate of Operations. Most of these reviews appeared in recent unclassified editions of CIA’s Studies in Intelligence, Other reviews and articles may be found online at http://www.cia.gov

 

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