detainee

Obama and Senate Intel Cmte tortured the truth about CIA’s enhanced interrogation program

President Barack Obama said on Friday, “In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right. But we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.” Yet the Department of Justice has twice closed investigations of alleged torture by the CIA without filing charges against anyone. Obama’s remarks were not only politically self-serving and contrary to the findings of fact, they went viral in the Muslim world and provided Islamist radicals with ready-made propaganda with which they will recruit many to the jihad.

In February 2013, I did what the Senate Intelligence Committee did not do while it spent years and $50 million dollars “investigating” whether EITs provided credible intelligence; I interviewed a top official directly involved with the program, Jose Rodriguez who headed the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center. He directed the enhanced interrogations of high-value detainees, and led worldwide intelligence collection programs and covert action operations. Here is the complete audio of my Freedom Radio interview of him:

If you listened, you heard Mr. Rodriguez tell of how the enhanced interrogation program was developed and that it was briefed to leaders in Congress in August and September of 2002, including those on the House and Senate intelligence committees.

A detainee — after he became compliant through the use of EITs — was the first to tell the CIA that Ahmed al-Kuwaiti was bin Laden’s courier; interrogating and observing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confirmed that it was credible information. Subsequently, the CIA got the courier’s real name through human intelligence and traditional trade craft, they spotted him in Pakistan, and he led them to Osama bin Laden:

“No doubt about it; the information that was obtained from al Qaeda terrorists in our custody at our black sites using enhanced interrogation techniques led to the demise of bin Laden.”

It is important to understand the scope of the intelligence gained. Mr. Rodriguez described it:

“The intervening ten years we were up against all kinds of threats, a second wave of attacks. We also knew they had a nuclear program, they had a biological weapons program, they had operatives that were coming after us, and the enhanced interrogation program gave us the intelligence that allowed us to capture all of them or kill them. We were actually able to decimate al Qaeda because of this program.

“This program was the key to doing that. And to say otherwise is to try to rewrite history, and it based on ideology and politics which really is of great concern to me. We need an honest assessment of the value of these techniques, and if we can’t be honest with ourselves, I think we are in big trouble.”

What we did right after 9/11 included not rewarding unlawful enemy combatants with the Geneva Conventions protection to not answer questions. Overwhelming, Americans believe those protections should only be provided to lawful enemy combatants who follow the Rules of War.

My family and I thank those who did what was necessary to defend our Nation. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s 6,000-page deception about the effectiveness of EITs and President Obama falsely claiming that detainees were tortured will not diminish our appreciation.

Senate should oppose D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Caitlin Halligan


In 2009, current D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Caitlin Halligan donated her legal services pro bono and co-authored amicus brief which argued that the 2001 AUMF did not authorize indefinite military detention of captured unlawful enemy combatants.

The Honorable Senator Mitch McConnell
United States Senate
Washington, D.C.
March 4, 2013

Dear Senator McConnell,

We are writing today to express our strong opposition to the appointment of Caitlin J. Halligan to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. We do so because we have seen, first hand, how judicial activism can thwart efforts by the executive and legislative branches of government to protect this nation in matters of national security. We have observed judges on the D.C. Circuit inexplicably dismiss compelling evidence in Guantanamo detainee habeas cases and order the detainees released, only to have those same cases overruled at the appellate level. As the threat of terrorism by groups and individuals inside the U.S. homeland continues to rise, it is essential that the American people continue to be protected through laws crafted and enacted by their sworn representatives, not by unelected judges who serve lifetime terms, accountable to no one.

The D.C. Circuit Appellate bench has jurisdiction over military commission appeals. Ms. Halligan has a public record dismissing military commission as inferior courts. Indeed, the New York City Bar Association Committee on Federal Courts, on which she served, published a report which she signed, describing military commissions as outside the “rule of law.” As you well know, the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act were nothing less than the result of a vigorous, hard-won bi-partisan effort to create a fair, reasonable, and effective legal framework within the confines of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that dealt with an unconventional, asymmetrical existential threat to this nation. Despite the fact that the MCA and indefinite detention was upheld by the United States Supreme Court, Ms. Halligan, working pro bono, submitted an amicus curiae brief in the 2009 case of Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri v. Spagone, arguing that the AUMF did not authorize the seizure and indefinite military detention, without criminal trial, of a resident alien who allegedly conspired with Al-Qaeda to execute terror attacks on the United States.

We regret that the Constitutionally-required process of Advice and Consent has become politicized, and that activist nominees to the bench try to thwart exposure of their legal philosophy through ambiguous or incomplete testimony. But Ms. Halligan has taken this to a whole new level. She has attempted to remake herself entirely. We believe that she has affirmatively misrepresented herself to the Judiciary Committee, thus lowering the bar on candor and honesty even further. If the Senate votes to affirm her nomination, in our view, it will be complicit in this deception. Worse, the American people, who count on our representatives to act on our behalf, will be even more discouraged. We are tired of political expediency in matters that affect our lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren. When judges take these matters away from the people, where do we then go?

We urge you and your fellow senators not to allow President Obama to wear you down. As you have before, we urge you to vote “no” against cloture in the nomination of Caitlin Halligan.

Respectfully submitted,

Debra Burlingame
Tim Sumner
Co-founders, 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America

Related reading:

File – Caitlin Joan Halligan, Nominee, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, January 19, 2011 (document file)

THE INDEFINITE DETENTION OF “ENEMY COMBATANTS”: BALANCING DUE PROCESS AND NATIONAL SECURITY IN THE CONTEXT OF THE WAR ON TERROR The Association of the Bar of the City of New York Committee on Federal Courts February 6, 2004 (pdf)

Did enhanced interrogations of high-value detainees work, lead to bin Laden, and were they ethical?

Today at the American Enterprise Institute, panelists Elisa Massimino of Human Rights First, former Attorney General Judge Michael Mukasey, former Acting General Counsel of the CIA John Rizzo, AEI fellow Marc Thiessen, and Brookings Institute fellow Benjamin Wittes discussed whether the enhanced interrogations of high-value detainees worked, lead to Osama bin Laden, and if they were ethical. One interesting point made by John Rizzo was while he served at the CIA until October 2009, the current administration asked the CIA to recommend a list of interrogation techniques above those in the Army Field Manual:

I hope to someday hear a robust debate on the ethics of not aggressively interrogating high-value detainees. One way you protect civilians during war is to deny Geneva Convention protections to unlawful combatants — a right to remain silent — to not allow them to only give their name, rank, date of birth, and serial number.