Two senators privy to classified information angrily dispute the claim by a former CIA official that the Bush administration's coercive interrogation techniques were effective and helped locate Osama bin Laden.
Jose Rodriguez, former head of CIA clandestine services, told the Washington Post last week that he is “certain, beyond any doubt" that the techniques "approved at the highest levels of the U.S. government … shielded the people of the United States from harm and led to the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden."
But senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said in a statement on Monday they were "deeply troubled" by Rodriguez's statements that the CIA"s "so-called 'enhanced interrogation techniques' used many years ago were a central component of our success," in finding the al Qaeda leader, killed by U.S. commandos in a raid in Pakistan a year ago Tuesday.
"This view is misguided and misinformed," the senators wrote.
Feinstein's Senate Intelligence Committee has prepared a 5,000-page report that, according to Reuters, concludes that records from the Bush administration fail to support claims that torture was effective in stopping any terrorist attack.
Feinstein and Levin wrote that the CIA didn't first learn about the courier who led the U.S. to bin Laden's hideout from detainees who were "subjected to coercive techniques." The techniques didn't help identify the courier by name or the location of bin Laden's compound, the senators said.
"Instead, the CIA learned of the existence of the courier, his true name and location through means unrelated to the CIA detention and interrogation program," wrote Feinstein and Levin in the statement.
Rodriguez, on tour promoting his book, acknowledged that rather than turning to trained interrogators in 2002, the CIA consulted a former military psychologist who had helped train American soldiers in how to resist torture if they were captured.
Feinstein and Levin noted in their statement that the "techniques used in the CIA' s interrogation program were never intended to be used by U.S. interrogators" and were "based on Communist Chinese interrogation techniques used during the Korean War to elicit false confessions."
On CBS's 60 Minutes on Sunday, Rodriguez described his decision to destroy videotapes documenting waterboarding and other coercive techniques long considered torture.
"I was concerned that the distinction between a legally authorized program as our enhanced interrogation program was, and illegal activity by a bunch of psychopaths, would not be made," Rodriguez told 60 Minutes.
Feinstein and Levin wrote in their statement: "His decision to order the destruction of the tapes was in violation of instructions from CIA and White House lawyers, illustrates a blatant disregard for the law, and unnecessarily caused damage to the CIA' s reputation."
Rodriguez said he insisted that every interrogation technique be approved all the way up to the White House. "We needed to get everybody in government to put their big boy pants on and provide the authorities that we needed," he said.