- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 14, 2014

Some Democrats who have criticized the actions described in the Senate report on torture were aware of each of the techniques — including waterboarding and sleep deprivation — as far back as 2002, a former top CIA official said Sunday.

Jose Rodriguez, the former chief of the CIA Clandestine Service, said he briefed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in 2002 on each of the interrogation tactics approved by the Justice Department.

“I briefed her on all of the techniques. These people were fully aware of all of the techniques approved by the Department of Justice and legal counsels,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “She never objected to the techniques at all.”

He said many members of Congress actually told CIA officials that they needed to be doing more to protect the country.

“Their biggest thing that they told me was, ‘Your problem is that you guys are risk averse. ‘You have to go out and give the authorities you’ve been given to protect America,’” he said.

A Senate report released last week found that CIA officials used tactics like waterboarding, sleep deprivation, rectal feedings, physical violence and threats to family members on those with suspected ties to terrorist organizations. The report found that the torture techniques didn’t produce any valuable intelligence and that, in some cases, the CIA had gotten the wrong person and ended up letting the suspected terrorist go after torturing him.

But Karl Rove, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, said the tactics were carefully designed to not cross the line to become torture. He said most of the rectal feedings were done as a result of a detainee being on a hunger strike, though some doctors have said there is no nutritional value to the procedure.

He said the Senate report, put together by Democrats about actions under Mr. Bush’s presidency, is inherently flawed because investigators didn’t talk to top CIA officials. He noted that while the report said Mr. Bush wasn’t aware of the actions until 2006, Mr. Rove said he was briefed on and approved of 10 interrogation techniques prior to that.

“They simply didn’t talk to the people. They talked to no one. They simply read documents. It’s like the queen of hearts, judgment first, verdict second,” he said.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democrat, said committee members didn’t talk to former top officials or directors for the report because they believed those officials were misleading Congress. Instead, the report focuses on lower level officials who were actually in the room for actions or conversations.

He also insisted that Senate Select Committee on Intelligence members tried to legislate to end the interrogation techniques as soon as they learned of them.

Mr. Rodriguez said the report throws CIA employees under the bus and that the country will “pay the price” for officials hesitating in the future as a result of the report and its subsequent backlash.

“Leaders at the agency are going to wonder whether the authorities they receive from their president will last longer than one election phase. That’s a big concern,” he said. “We want the CIA to be confident their authorities will not be second guessed when the administration changes.”

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