Bush and Former C.I.A. Officials Rebut Torture Report by the Senate

By Baker, Peter | International New York Times, December 9, 2014 | Go to article overview

Bush and Former C.I.A. Officials Rebut Torture Report by the Senate


Baker, Peter, International New York Times


President George W. Bush's team has decided to link arms with former intelligence officials against a long-awaited Senate report condemning torture by the Central Intelligence Agency.

A long-awaited Senate report condemning torture by the Central Intelligence Agency has not even been made public yet, but former President George W. Bush's team has decided to link arms with former intelligence officials and challenge its conclusions.

The report is said to assert that the C.I.A. misled Mr. Bush and his White House about the nature, extent and results of torture like waterboarding, and some of his former administration officials privately suggested seizing on that to distance themselves from the controversial program, say people involved in the discussion. But Mr. Bush and his closest advisers decided that "we're going to want to stand behind these guys," as one former official put it.

Mr. Bush made that clear in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

"We're fortunate to have men and women who work hard at the C.I.A. serving on our behalf," he said on CNN. "These are patriots, and whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off base."

These are "really good people and we're lucky as a nation to have them," he continued.

Former intelligence officials, seeking allies against the potentially damaging report, have privately reassured the Bush team in recent days that they did not deceive them and have lobbied the former president's advisers to speak out publicly on their behalf.

The defense of the program has been organized by two former directors, George J. Tenet and Gen. Michael V. Hayden, and by John E. McLaughlin, a former deputy C.I.A. director who also served as acting director.

"Once the release occurs, we'll have things to say and will be making some documents available that bear on the case," Mr. McLaughlin said Sunday. Although he could not discuss details because of a nondisclosure agreement, in general he said the report "uses information selectively, often distorts to make its points, and as I recall contains no recommendations."

General Hayden added that the former C.I.A. team objected to the Senate's characterization of their efforts. "We're not here to defend torture," he said by email on Sunday. "We're here to defend history."

General Hayden appeared on Sunday on the CBS News program "Face the Nation" to say that any assertion that the C.I.A. "lied to everyone about a program that wasn't doing any good, that beggars the imagination."

Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., who ran the C.I.A. interrogation program, said on Sunday that critics now assailing the agency were pressing it after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to do whatever it took to prevent a recurrence.

"We did what we were asked to do, we did what we were assured was legal, and we know our actions were effective," Mr. …

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