Feinstein, Levin Statement on CIA's Coercive Interrogation Techniques

Monday, April 30, 2012

Washington—Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) released the following statement regarding claims by former CIA Deputy Director of Operations Jose Rodriguez about the effectiveness of the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques:

“We are deeply troubled by the claims of the CIA’s former Deputy Director of Operations Jose Rodriguez regarding the effectiveness of the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will soon complete a comprehensive review of the CIA’s former Detention and Interrogation Program.  Committee staff has reviewed more than 6 million pages of records and the Committee’s final report, which we expect to exceed 5000 pages, will provide a detailed, factual description of how interrogation techniques were used, the conditions under which detainees were held, and the intelligence that was – or wasn’t – gained from the program. 

Statements made by Mr. Rodriguez and other former senior government officials about the role of the CIA interrogation program in locating Usama bin Laden (UBL) are inconsistent with CIA records.  We are disappointed that Mr. Rodriguez and others, who left government positions prior to the UBL operation and are not privy to all of the intelligence that led to the raid, continue to insist that the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” used many years ago were a central component of our success.  This view is misguided and misinformed.

The roots of the UBL operation stretch back nearly a decade and involve hundreds, perhaps thousands, of intelligence professionals who worked non-stop to connect and analyze many fragments of information, eventually leading the United States to Usama bin Laden’s location in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  The suggestion that the operation was carried out based on information gained through the harsh treatment of CIA detainees is not only inaccurate, it trivializes the work of individuals across multiple U.S. agencies that led to UBL and the eventual operation. 

We are also troubled by Mr. Rodriguez’s statements justifying the destruction of video tapes documenting the use of coercive interrogation techniques as “just getting rid of some ugly visuals.”  His decision to order the destruction of the tapes was in violation of instructions from CIA and White House lawyers, illustrates a blatant disregard for the law, and unnecessarily caused damage to the CIA’s reputation.

Further, it’s worth repeating, as discussed in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s 2008 report, the SERE techniques used in the CIA’s interrogation program were never intended to be used by U.S. interrogators.  Rather, the techniques – which are based on Communist Chinese interrogation techniques used during the Korean War to elicit false confessions – were developed to expose U.S. soldiers to the abusive treatment they might be subjected to if captured by our enemies.  An overwhelming number of experts agree, the SERE techniques are not an effective means to illicit accurate information.

Misinformation Relating to the UBL Operation

Statement of Jose Rodriguez, former CIA Deputy Director for Operations, Time Magazine, May 4, 2011:

“Information provided by [CIA detainees] KSM and Abu Faraj al-Libbi about bin Laden's courier was the lead information that eventually led to the location of [bin Laden’s] compound and the operation that led to his death.”

This statement is wrong.  The original lead information had no connection to CIA detainees.  The CIA had significant intelligence on the courier that was collected from a variety of classified sources.  While the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques were used against KSM and al-Libbi, the pair provided false and misleading information during their time in CIA custody.  This information will be detailed in the Intelligence Committee’s report. 

Statement of Michael Hayden, former CIA Director, Scott Hennen Show, May 3, 2011:

“[W]hat we got, the original lead information – and frankly it was incomplete identity information on the couriers – began with information from CIA detainees at the black sites.”

This statement is wrong. The original information had no connection to CIA detainees.  The CIA had significant intelligence on the courier that was collected from a variety of classified sources.  This information will be detailed in the Intelligence Committee’s report.

Statement of Michael Mukasey, former Attorney General, Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2011:

“Consider how the intelligence that led to bin Laden came to hand. It began with a disclosure from Khalid Shiekh Mohammed (KSM) who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques – that included waterboarding.  He loosed a torrent of information – including eventually the name of a trusted courier of bin Laden ... Another of those gathered up later in this harvest, Abu Faraj al-Libi, also was subjected to certain of these harsh techniques and disclosed further details about bin Laden's couriers that helped last weekend's achievement.”

This statement is wrong.  There is nothing in CIA intelligence records to corroborate this statement.

Other press reports have suggested that a third CIA detainee subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques provided significant information on the courier and his relationship with al-Qa'ida.  While this third detainee did provide relevant information, he did so the day before he was interrogated by the CIA using their coercive interrogation techniques.  This information will be detailed in the Intelligence Committee’s report.

The Facts:

  • CIA did not first learn about the existence of the UBL courier from detainees subjected to coercive interrogation techniques.  Nor did the agency discover the courier's identity from detainees subjected to coercive techniques.  No detainee reported on the courier’s full name or specific whereabouts, and no detainee identified the compound in which UBL was hidden.  Instead, the CIA learned of the existence of the courier, his true name and location through means unrelated to the CIA detention and interrogation program.
  • Information to support this operation was obtained from a wide variety of intelligence sources and methods.  CIA officers and their colleagues throughout the Intelligence Community sifted through massive amounts of information, identified possible leads, tracked them down, and made considered judgments based on all of the available intelligence.
  • The CIA detainee who provided the most significant information about the courier provided the information prior to being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques. 
  • The three detainees subjected to waterboarding provided no new information about the courier.  In fact, the CIA detainees who were subjected to coercive techniques downplayed the courier's significance, with some of those detainees denying they knew him at all, in the face of significant evidence to the contrary. 
  • Detainees whom the CIA believed to have information on UBL’s location provided no locational information, even after significant use of the CIA's coercive interrogation techniques.”