I do believe, from the very beginning, that our senators were fully aware of the intelligence operations undertaken after 9/11. Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) knew that the CIA created clandestine 'black sites' and used 'enhanced-interrogation techniques' in each of them, even though she speaks negatively of them now.
I wanted to hear the facts about the EIT program right from the horse's mouth, so last year I planned to travel to Tysons Corner, VA to hear Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr. talk at the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) Summer Luncheon. Unfortunately, I couldn't make the meeting and forfeited my registration fee. However, I learned much about the presenter, Rodriguez, who is a former CIA National Clandestine Service Director and was the person who, after 9-11, led the U.S. counterterrorism operations and oversaw the highly controversial enhanced interrogation technique (EIT) program, which was created to obtain vital and timely intelligence from terrorists bent on killing as many Americans as possible.
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At the AFIO lecture, Rodriguez discussed how the CIA’s undercover operations and tactics were implemented during the George W. Bush presidency, how they were approved at the highest levels of the U.S. government, how they were certified as legal by the Department of Justice, and why they were supported by bipartisan leadership in the congressional intelligence oversight committees.
It's unfortunate that Rodriguez and the CIA are under relentless criticism and smear campaign rhetoric. After reading his AFIO lecture transcript, conducting personal OSINT research on EIT's, and interviewing two of my intelligence consultants, I question if these critics of EIT's forgot the stark realities of 9/11. Even the AFIO questions whether the EIT critics can offer a sensible alternative. The current inaction, weak responses, "touchy-feely" hand-holding, "tell-me-all, I'm your friend" sessions with terrorist detainees would not have been an appropriate response to the deaths of thousands of fellow citizens trapped in the twin-towers, helplessly pinned inside the Pentagon or held hostage on board the commercial airliner that crashed in a rural Pa. countryside. Grieving and anxiety-ridden Americans did not know if future terrorist attacks were in the making!
As the shock of 9/11 faded, the support that the CIA enjoyed and deserved gave way to shortsighted and potentially dangerous political correctness. The tools which effective counterintelligence and counterterrorism rely on have been neutralized by lack of funding and ineffective legislation. Our counterintelligence agents are hamstrung, spread thin, overworked, and subject to ridicule and prosecution…as was Rodriguez himself!
His book “Hard Measures” reflects on the justification for the techniques used and why they were necessary, why they worked, and how, ultimately, they saved American lives and contributed to the capture of the world’s most-wanted terror operatives, including bin Ladin.
I watched the 60 Minutes program that grilled Jose Rodriguez and concluded it was an unbalanced 'script' skewed heavily by the critics of EIT, including some grandstanding politicians who claimed to be "experts" and unnamed others who stood on the sidelines to lob stones at officials, like Rodriguez, who were in the 9/11 trenches
making tough, real-time national security decisions.
You may view both parts of the 60 Minutes program by clicking HERE It was aired on 4/29/12 and Jose Rodriguez showed no regrets about the CIA using "enhanced interrogation techniques". His interviewer, Leslie Stahl, exhibited intimidating body language, including raised eyebrows. It was quite obvious that she considered EIT’s unnecessary, evil and unbecoming of the U.S. Through her criticism, Stahl tried to make her prejudice plausible, but failed. She talked with Rodriguez about water-boarding and other EIT methods, but he said they proved essential in getting information from suspected terrorists. He emphasized that high-level detainees like Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah provided their best information only after harsh treatment.
Interestingly, at the time, I wrote an unrelated article about John Kiriakou, entitled “CIA HERO INDICTED FOR ESPIONAGE”. It mentions a groundbreaking 2007 interview with ABC News, where Kiriakou defined waterboarding as torture, but admitted that it probably was effective, thus backing up Rodriguez's claim.
We'll never know how many American lives that CIA Case Officer Rodriguez and the EIT program saved...those compiling the Senate Torture Report have no idea, either.
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes the online spy series "Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean." The views expressed on this site do not represent those of any organization he is a member of. Got a thought, article or comment you'd like to submit? Contact him on the Secure Contact Form