Ex-CIA agents hit back at shocking 'torture report', calling its findings 'cherry-picked'

The CIA maintains that the harrowing program did prevent terrorist attacks

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The Independent US

Former senior CIA officers have hit back at a damning US Senate report published today, which documents how agents used inhumane techniques against some 116 prisoners in the wake of 9/11, but failed to thwart potential terrorist attacks.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic committee chairman whose staff prepared the summary, branded the findings a stain on the nation's history.

"Under any common meaning of the term, CIA detainees were tortured," she declared, commanding the Senate floor for an extended accounting of the techniques identified in the investigation.

The 500-page summary of a 6,000 report concluded that the American public and policymakers were mislead into believing that harsh techniques, which it has emerged included water-boarding and a tactic known as 'rectal rehydration', would halt terror plots and save American lives.

But ex-CIA directors quickly took to the CIA Save Lives website today to defend the techniques used during the agency's Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation program which ran from 2002 to 2006.

The website presents documents which the ex-officers claim prove that the program was authorised by the former President, overseen by the National Security Council, and deemed legal by the Attorney General of the US “on multiple occasions”.

In an introductory statement on the webpage, former agents accused the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) of having “cherry picked” incidents from 6 million pages of documents, to create a report which was “marred by errors of facts and interpretation” and is therefore “completely at odds with reality”.

They go on to complain that the report does not discuss the context of the US following the 9/11 attacks, during which time they claim there was “solid evidence” to show that “al-Qaida was planning a second wave of attacks against the US,” including reports that nuclear weapons were being smuggled in the New York City.

“It felt like a 'ticking time bomb' every single day,” the officers said.

Officers also said that the CIA briefed both the House of Representatives and the SSCI had on the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”, almost immediately after they were approved in 2002. 

”None of the members [of the House] expressed any reservations or objections to the program,” officers claim on CIA Saved Lives.

One such officer, Former CIA director George J. Tenet, who served as agency head between 1997 and 2004, was adamant that the operation was successful in “saving American and allied lives”.

He went on to call the document "biased, inaccurate, and destructive," and said it has damaged national security and “and most of all to the truth.” 

Responding to the shocking findings, the current CIA Director, John Brennan, said the agency made mistakes and has learned from them, and asserted the techniques “did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives.”

President Barack Obama vowed on Tuesday that harsh US interrogation methods will not take place on his watch, saying the techniques did significant damage to American interests abroad without serving broad counter-terrorism efforts.

In a written statement, President Obama said: “Rather than another reason to refight old arguments, I hope that today's report can help us leave these techniques where they belong, in the past.”

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