Former CIA bosses have put out an open letter spelling out step-by-step how enhanced interrogations after the 9-11 terror attacks led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The letter expresses great dismay that Democrats and their staff on the Senate Intelligence Committee would write Tuesday’s report based on “cherry picked” information from 6 million documents, yet never interviewed them or the officers who conducted the program.
More troubling, they said, was the Democratic staff’s contention that the decade-old interrogations led to no useful intelligence. They said that, in fact, the questioning revealed al Qaeda’s force structure, its plots and its leadership, many of whom were captured or killed.
They accuse committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, of politicizing the entire report. Republican staffers did not participate.
The letter was signed by former CIA directors George Tenet, whom President George W. Bush kept in place from the Clinton administration; Porter Goss; and Michael V. Hayden; and by three former deputy directors. The letter was posted by The Wall Street Journal.
Current CIA Director John Brennan has also criticized Mrs. Feinstein’s report.
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The former directors give this chronology:
Enhanced interrogation of al Qaeda chieftain Abu Zubaydah led to the capture Ramzi Bin al-Shibh. Information from those two ultimately led to the capture of 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, or KSM.
Collectively, they divulged the location of Hambali, al Qaeda’s Asian chief who carried out the Bali massacre in Indonesia. KSM then pointed the CIA to Hambali’s successor, who was in the process of carrying out a major airliner attack, akin to 9-11.
The interrogation program produced information on a courier that put him at the top of the list for leads on bin Laden’s whereabouts.
When confronted, KSM lied about the courier’s role, a signal to the CIA that this was the man it needed to track.
The courier turned out to be Abu Ahmed Kuwaiti, whom U.S. intelligence tracked in 2010 to a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan — the terror leader’s hideout.
As to committee Democrats asserting the interrogations had nothing to do with bin Laden’s 2011 killing by U.S. Navy SEALs, the ex-directors wrote, “They are wrong. There is no doubt that information provided by the totality of detainees in CIA custody, those who were subjected to interrogation and those who were not, was essential to bringing bin Laden to justice.”
They added, “The staff members then ‘cherry picked’ their way through six million pages of documents, ignoring some data and highlighting others, to construct their argument against the program’s effectiveness. In the intelligence profession, that is called politicization.”
The former officials have launched a website, CIASavedLives.com, to make their case.
Mrs. Feinstein said on the Senate floor that the report, “Shows that the CIA’s actions a decade ago are a stain on our values and on our history.”