WASHINGTON ― Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina may not be a career politician, but a new interview sheds light on some of her firsthand experience in the national security realm.
In a Yahoo News interview published Monday, Fiorina said that shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, she redirected trucks full of Hewlett-Packard servers on their way to retail stores to Fort Meade, Maryland, upon request of then-National Security Agency director Michael Hayden.
Hayden told Yahoo he remembered telling Fiorina, then head of HP, “Carly, I need stuff and I need it now.” The NSA needed the servers to implement the controversial “Stellar Wind” warrantless wiretapping program.
“I felt it was my duty to help, and so we did,” Fiorina said. “They were ramping up a whole set of programs and needed a lot of data crunching capability to try and monitor a whole set of threats. …What I knew at the time was our nation had been attacked.”
The presidential hopeful also told Yahoo she would endorse some of the country’s most controversial intelligence tactics, including the CIA’s torture program.
“I believe that all of the evidence is very clear ― that waterboarding was used in a very small handful of cases [and] was supervised by medical personnel in every one of those cases,” she said. “And I also believe that waterboarding was used when there was no other way to get information that was necessary.”
Those comments stand in stark contrast to last year’s Senate report on the CIA’s torture program. That study, which had bipartisan support on the Hill, charged that the CIA mismanaged and abused its interrogation program, and that the use of the harsh tactics was far more widespread and abusive than the agency let on. The report also challenges CIA claims that the use of torture provided intelligence that was unavailable otherwise.
The Huffington Post asked Fiorina’s campaign if the candidate had actually read the executive summary of the Senate torture report, which was released in December. They have not yet responded.
Fiorina additionally told Yahoo that she urged former CIA Counterterrorism Center chief Jose Rodriguez, who oversaw the agency’s torture program, to ditch his cover and come out into the open in an effort to make the agency more transparent. Fiorina even urged Rodriguez ― who ordered the destruction of nearly 100 CIA interrogation tapes ― to be a spokesman for the spy shop.
“The reason I made that recommendation is that people would have been amazed to meet him,” Fiorina said. “People would have been surprised by who he was, and what he had done. … For the American people to look into your eyes, to see your face, to hear your story ― they are going to see you’re not some scary guy. You’re actually a small, mild-mannered man who cares deeply about the safety of the nation and dedicates his life to the safety of the nation.”
Fiorina also expressed support for the government’s sweeping surveillance programs, including the NSA’s data collection program ― saying she did not think it “went too far” ― and the post-9/11 warrantless wiretapping program, which was ordered by the Bush White House and collected in bulk the phone records and emails of Americans.