Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Tenet Justifies Torture

Via an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer:

BLITZER: I have to ask you a question on allegations the CIA, your agency, engaged in torture. You've said there was no torture. You won't describe what the "enhanced interrogation techniques" used against al Qaeda suspects involved.

But Khalid al-Masri[sic], a German citizen born in Lebanon, he wrote a piece in the "L.A. Times" saying this: "I was handed over to the American Central Intelligence Agency and was stripped, severely beaten, shackled, dressed in a diaper, injected with drugs, chained to the floor of a plane and flown to Afghanistan..."

Is that true?

TENET: I don't believe what he says is true. But let me say this. Let me say this about this whole torture question. In the after math[sic] of 9/11, we lived with a palpable fear of how much we did not know about what was going on in our country.

Senator McCain started a great debate here. Here's what I would ask people. I know that the program we engaged in saved lives, thousands of lives. I know it helped us against al Qaeda.

Policymakers, the president, the Congress determine where you want to be in the moral continuum. We are a country of laws and a country of values. Tell us where you want to be. Make it very, very clear to us. Have consensus on it.

Don't let the pendulum swing back and forth. Give you intelligence community clear instructions, and we'll follow them.

BLITZER: In a war, if American POWs were exposed to the same "enhanced interrogation techniques" that these expects were exposed to, would that be appropriate?

TENET: Well, you never -- look, Wolf, I would never -- I don't know what they'd be exposed to. And I don't want to talk about techniques. Here's the only thing I would say to you again.

Make a determination of where you want us to be. Tell us what the right thing to do is. We'll do it.

I know that in that time period after 9/11, we understood the risks. We understood we were on new territory. The president authorized. The attorney general said it was legal.

We briefed the chairman and ranking member of our oversight committees. Nobody was hiding anything. We were in a -- we were in a tough environment.

If you don't want to do it, that's fine with us.

BLITZER: One example. Could you give us one example? Because you say it saved thousands of lives. These techniques? Can you give us an example?

TENET: Well, we found out about additional airline plots against the East and West Coast of the United States.

BLITZER: Thanks to these techniques?

TENET: Thanks to these techniques. We found out about that surveillance of financial institutions in New York thanks to these techniques. We found out about plots in Karachi thanks to these techniques. We identified people we never knew about who were planning further terrorist attacks against the United States thanks to these techniques.

BLITZER: So if you had to do the techniques over again, you'd do them?

TENET: Well, it's not that you would do them. If you're authorized and it's legal and it's briefed -- and we play in a system of laws and governance. It's not just us.

You know, in the time period that I lived in, and the threats that we faced, and the issues we were dealing with, and -- Wolf, where are you going to be if you're holding someone who you know is coming to kill you and your family tomorrow afternoon, and you didn't do what you thought you needed to do to get the data? What would you be saying to me today?

You would be saying me, you didn't do your job and you didn't save lives. Well, that's extreme, isn't it? Well, that's what we were living with at the time.

So, all Tenet needed was clearance from Bush, which he got thanks to Gonzales and Yoo - all of them in panic mode after 9/11 - although the CIA's history of using so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" goes back decades.

Tenet chooses, conveniently, not to believe El-Masri whose lawsuit has been thrown out of court on "state secrets" grounds and even though the CIA admitted that it had mistaken him for an al Qaeda member named al-Masri when it kidnapped him.

In April 2004, CIA Director George Tenet learned that El-Masri was being wrongfully detained. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice learned of his detention shortly thereafter in early May and ordered his release.[3] El-Masri was released on May 28 following a second order from Rice.[3] American authorities met with him and agreed to release him if he agreed never to tell the story of his ordeal to anyone.

In other words, this administration doesn't want those real "techniques" exposed because they know the damage that'll cause. It doesn't matter what Tenet does or doesn't choose to believe. If Bushco had any credibility and faith in its policies that it claims saved so many lives, it wouldn't be so afraid to have to defend them in court.

Tenet - just another man named George who doesn't want to take responsibility for anything and who believes that torture is justified without providing any proof that it actually works.

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