What the Senate's Torture Report Gets Wrong

Former CIA chiefs, Bob Kerrey criticize lack of interviews, context, recommendations
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2014 1:00 PM CST
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – The Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA interrogations has all kinds of grisly details, but, "remarkably," it makes zero recommendations, complains former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey in USA Today. The former committee member calls this "disturbing fact" a result of the report's partisanship—only Democrats participated because Republicans sensed a foregone conclusion. Intel committees are supposed to stay above the partisan fray, and Kerrey thinks the Senate panel "departed from that high road." He also faults investigators for not conducting any interviews and instead relying on documents. "Isolated emails, memos, and transcripts can look much different when there is no context or perspective provided by those who sent, received, or recorded them," he writes.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, former CIA chiefs George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden, along with former deputy directors, also criticize the lack of interviews, context, and recommendations. Was the panel afraid that interviews would not "fit their construct?" They also dispute the conclusion that interrogations didn't yield valuable intelligence, asserting that information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed prevented a 9-11-style attack on the West Coast. And despite what the report says, the interrogation program was "essential" in the capture of Osama bin Laden. "When oversight works well, it is balanced, constructively critical, and discreet—and offers sound recommendations," they write. "The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report is disrespectful of that standard." Click for the full column, or for Kerrey's full column.

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