Tag Archive for CIA

Obama’s DOJ: Gina Haspel’s CIA and Enhanced Interrogation Program ‘Saved Lives’

“I was crushed by the South Tower — my chest was caved in. I was buried, almost suffocated and drowned in my own blood. Then the ambulance that I was in was nearly crushed by the collapsing North Tower. Once in the hospital, my chest was cut open while I was wide awake and I watched the burn victim on the next gurney screaming as the doctors attempted to treat her horrifying injuries. I thought 9/11 might be a cure for American amnesia. I was mistaken.” — Robert Reeg, former FDNY, Engine 44

Gina Haspel’s nomination to lead the Central Intelligence Agency as its first female director has hit a stumbling block because of reports that she played some role in the Rendition, Detention, Interrogation (RDI) program at a so-called CIA black site. After news that some members of the Senate are unhappy that she might have been involved in the harsh but then legal interrogation program, Robert Reeg expressed his anger on Facebook, noting that he was about to undergo his sixth surgery for the injuries he sustained 16 years ago responding to the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Those most personally affected by 9/11 have maintained the perspective and moral clarity that the entire country once shared. The permanence of their losses, the vivid memories of the horrors they witnessed, prevent them from forgetting the ultimate cause of our government’s inability to protect its citizens from the most deadly attack on America in our nation’s history. The 9/11 Commission declared it a “failure of imagination.” But that was a gloss over of the real problem — the refusal of vast government bureaucracies to put aside turf wars, careerism, and more attention to partisan politics than the real threats that face us.

Now we are seeing it again. Politicians are attacking the very people who have done the most to keep America safe for some of the same reasons, and this is a grave danger.

The RDI program has been unfairly branded a rogue operation and Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs) “torture.” Real torture can be seen in videos made by Al Qaeda and ISIS — Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg, humanitarian aid workers and Christian martyrs lined up for beheading, a caged Jordanian pilot burned alive — which testify to the savage inhumanity of the enemy we, and our troops, continue to face. Worse, contradicting hard evidence, critics of the program are advancing the narrative that it didn’t work.

A succession of CIA directors has declared that the RDI program have netted more actionable intelligence than every other source combined. We don’t have to take their word for it, we can turn to the sworn statement of former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for verification. Appointed by President Barack Obama to head the New York Southern District, he was the lead prosecutor in the 2009 trial of Al Qaeda bomb maker Ahmed Ghailani, captured in Pakistan after a 14-hour gun battle, and charged in a 286 count indictment for his role in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya that killed 224 people and injured 4,000.

In a 132-page legal brief explaining why holding Ghailani for two years in the CIA’s Enhanced Interrogation program hadn’t violated his right to a speedy trial, Bharara described how Ghailani’s status as a senior member of Al Qaeda with knowledge of the organization made him suitable for the program. “[T]he defendant was believed to have, and did have, actionable intelligence about al-Qaeda, by virtue of his longstanding position in al-Qaeda; his assistance to known al-Qaeda terrorists; and his close relationship to long-standing al-Qaeda leaders, including Usama Bin Laden.”

The brief continues, “[T]he United States justifiably treated the defendant as an intelligence asset — to obtain from him whatever information it could concerning terrorists and terrorist plots. This was done, simply put, to save lives. And when significant intelligence had been collected from the defendant, the U.S. made the decision to continue holding him as an alien enemy combatant pursuant to the laws of war….” [Emphasis added.]

The brief added a citation to a 4th Circuit Court ruling in the 2004 Zacarias Moussaoui case (charged for his role in the Al Qaeda plan for a “2nd wave” of aviation attacks) which stated that “the value of the detainees in the CIA’s interrogation program ‘can hardly be overstated.’” This was followed by pages of classified information elicited from Ghailani, further stating that “the results of the CIA’s efforts show that the defendant’s value as an intelligence source was not just speculative.” [Emphasis added.]

Ruling in the government’s favor, presiding judge Lewis A. Kaplan, stated that the government had offered credible evidence not only that it was reasonable to believe Ghailani had valuable information essential to combating al-Qaeda and protecting national security, but that this valuable information “could not have been obtained except by putting him in that program….” [Emphasis added.]

It is important to note that all four Office of Legal Counsel memos describing the Rendition, Detention (RDI), and Interrogation program, detailing EIT methods, as well as two Inspector General reports were part of discovery in the case. Thus, the defense was unable to make the kind of egregious accusations and outright falsehoods which have characterized much of the media’s reporting about the program over the last ten years.

Judge Kaplan further said that the government provided credible evidence that Ghailani continued to provide valuable evidence which didn’t diminish over time. This suggests that the CIA repeatedly went back to him after he began cooperating, as new intelligence was acquired. Indeed, to reduce his sentence, Ghailani’s lead defense attorney actually described his client as a “hero” for providing so much valuable intelligence.

Here we have the Obama Justice Department and two federal courts crediting the work done at CIA black sites and the life-saving intelligence gained in the process. Now we have United States Senators condemning Gina Haspel because she was a part of that process.

The record in the Ghailani case is an important rebuttal to the shameful slander of the men and women of the CIA as they scrambled to defend our county after the devastating attack of September 11. At great personal cost, they did everything asked of them by their government. They repeatedly sought legal confirmation that the RDI/EIT program conformed to policy and law. They repeatedly fulfilled their obligation to inform the legislative branch of government as to the details of the program, even inviting members of Congress to help them shape it. Those members stood silent.

How can Congress ask dedicated CIA officers to fulfill their responsibility to protect the country from future attacks knowing that their careers might be in jeopardy or that they might be subject to prosecution, depending on shifting political winds? Gina Haspel has accumulated an exemplary record of achievement in her 33 years with the agency. The rank and file of the agency and 53 former CIA senior officials who cumulatively served seven presidents endorse her. Senators must show that they respect, support and understand the mission of our defenders.

Gina Haspel answered the call on 9/11. Confirm her, senators.

Debra Burlingame, a former attorney, is the sister of Charles F. Burlingame, III, pilot of American Airlines flight 77, Pentagon attack, September 11, 2001.

Gina Haspel, Congress, the CIA, and deliberately failing memories

Al Qaeda ruthlessly slaughtered 3,000 men, women, and children on 9/11.

Terrified and screaming, eight kids aboard the planes were slammed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Seen among the 200 forced by searing heat to leap to their deaths from the Towers was an eight-months pregnant woman whose last act was to wrap her arms around her stomach. As FDNY Engine 216 set up near the South Tower, a falling body struck and killed Danny Suhr, who had been a firefighter since 1983. Most remember the numerous acts of courage, humanity, and self-sacrifice that day.

The American people – including every Member of Congress – said, “Never again.” It was mandate to every soldier, law enforcement officer, intelligence officer, and official charged with the responsibility of defending our nation. We knew the enemy was still coming and had to be stopped. Our best and brightest had to step up and they did.

Gina Haspel was among the patriots who answered the call.

The intelligence gained by the CIA using EITs was enormous. On June 23, 2013, then CIA Director John Brennan predicated the CIA’s response to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report on the Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program. In part, Brennan wrote:

“In particular, the Agency disagrees with the Study’s unqualified assertions that the overall detention and interrogation program did not produce unique intelligence that led terrorist plots to be disrupted, terrorists to be captured, or lives to be saved. The Study’s claims on this score are inconsistent with the factual record, and we provide detailed comments in TAB C on where and why the Study’s assertions and representations are wrong.”

The implementation of the Enhanced Interrogation Program was not Gina Haspel’s decision; it was the President’s decision after her seniors at the CIA recommended its approval. It had been cleared by the Office of Legal Counsel and briefed to Majority and Minority Leaders of Congress, to include the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee Nancy Pelosi. The moral high ground was to deny unlawful enemy combatants the protections of the Geneva Conventions, to not allow those who acted outside of the Rules of War, who slaughtered civilians and soldiers alike, to remain silent.

Gina Haspel has served our nation with honor for thirty years. The EIT Program saved American lives. She deserves our thanks and far better than to be smeared by those with short memories.

CIA saved lives; Senate’s partisan enhanced interrogations report endangers Americans

It was infuriating watching outgoing Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein on the Senate floor Tuesday vividly describe, “the sound of bodies striking canopies at ground level as innocents jumped to the ground below from the World Trade Center,” and within seconds state, “In 1990, the United States Senate ratified the Conventions Against Torture.”

There was no mention by Senator Feinstein that CIA Directors under Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama are all on the record stating enhanced interrogations worked.

During all her years on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Feinstein never introduced legislation to ban enhanced interrogation techniques. Her report made no recommendations which is the main oversight function of the Intelligence Committee.

Successive DOJ investigations by the Bush and Obama administrations brought no charges related to the use of OLC-approved EITs. Does any rational person truly believe Attorney General Eric Holder would not have prosecuted CIA officers and contractors had he found evidence of torture?

We are still at war; Americans are getting their heads cut off by terrorists driven by the same ideology that drove 19 hijackers to slaughter 3,000 men, women, and children on 9/11.

As The Washington Free Beacon illustrates, the Islamic State immediately began using Senator Feinstein’s 5 1/2-year, American taxpayers funded handiwork to incite further atrocities and recruit to their bloody and vile jihad:

This tweet from Abu Bakr #Caliph (undoubtedly a reference to IS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi) urges outraged Muslims to curb-stomp their offenders: “From now on when someone accuses your Muslim brother of terrrorism, stick the #torture_report on the heel of your shoe and shove it in his mouth.”

The Twitter user Mus’ab al-Iraqi justified torture of Americans: “The #torture_report says that torture was necessary to prevent possible attacks, I hope for reciprocity and we say that torture was necessary to prevent American attacks.”

If you only read the opening letter in rebuttal to the Senate “study” by the current Director of Central Intelligence John Brennan, you will begin to know the CIA’s detention and interrogation program worked. And make no mistake about Mr. Brennan’s politics; he served as President Obama’s chief counterterrorism advisor from day one of this administration before being appointed as the DCI:

“Notwithstanding the above areas of agreement, there are several areas of disagreement as well. In particular, the Agency disagrees with the Study’s unqualified assertions that the overall detention and interrogation program did not produce unique intelligence that led terrorist plots to be disrupted, terrorists to be captured, or lives to be saved. The Study’s claims on this score are inconsistent with the factual record, and we provide detailed comments in TAB C on where and why the Study’s assertions and representations are wrong.”

In part, DCI Brennan added: “I have carefully reviewed and concur with the Agency’s comments…”

The CIA’s TAB C rebuttal ‘Information on the Courier that Led to the UBL Operation‘ and all 20 of it’s detailed debunkings are stark evidence that Senator Feinstein’s “study” is a $40 million dollar pack of deliberate distortions.

9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America stands with those who did what was necessary to prevent further attacks. We know that the CIA saved lives.

We are saddened by the political partisanship that divides, and fear for our homeland and those that serve it abroad in harm’s way. More bitter days may lie ahead; America can and must rise together as a Nation once again.

Post updated at 11:16 a.m. December 11, 2014. The spelling of Dianne Feinstein’s first name was corrected.

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.

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.